Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day.
So, predictably, I'd like to talk about the fathers in my life.

The "Dads"

My own father and I had a strained relationship.
One of the greatest things I grieved at his death
was the fact that there would never be a chance
to have the type of relationship I always dreamed of.
But, despite our differences,
I loved him.
And, he loved me as best he knew how.
I loved my dad's wit and sense of humor.
I loved his charm.
I loved his intelligence.
I loved his gifts of words and music.
I loved his cooking.
(Sorry, my Lanny Love, that gene got passed to my brother.)
I loved his creativity.
There were many wonderful things about my father.
I love you and miss you, Dad.
I hope you made it!

My father-in-law was my dad.
I never called him anything else.
He could be gruff and hard to take.
He spoke truth.
And I knew he loved me 
because he spoke truth to me too.
I didn't get company treatment.
I got the same as the rest of his kids.
He was generous, even if it meant giving til it hurt.
He was the third best grandpa I ever knew -
behind my own grandpa and my sweet Al.
He wasn't educated,
but he was very, very smart!
And he loved and cared for and protected his family!
And what a looker he was -
even as he aged, he was strikingly handsome.
In many ways, he was more my dad than my own father.
I love you and miss you, Dad!
You were one of a kind!

My Grandpa

My grandpa was the second best grandpa I ever knew.
He was a wonderful man!
He loved and doted on his grandkids.
I'm pretty sure he knew we could do wrong,
but he never mentioned it!
He was one of the most Godly men I have ever known!
His example of Christ-likeness often kept me on the straight and narrow.
He was wise and, 
when asked,
gave sound advice.
When not asked,
he prayed.
And he comforted when things went wrong.
His example of loving his mate was the example I used -
and am still using -
to select a husband.
I wanted a man like my grandpa! 
I love you and miss you, Grandpa!
Thank you for being a positive constant in my life!

My Sons

I don't have sons-in-law.
I have sons.
They are the two finest examples of sons a mom could hope for
for her daughters and grandchildren!
They are good husbands!
They are good daddies!
They are good sons!
They work hard to provide for my daughters and grandchildren!
They are there for me at the drop of a hat!
I love you, Craig and Dusty!
My daughters are blessed to have you!
And so am I!

My Husband

My Alfie.
The very best daddy I ever knew!
The very best papa I ever knew!
He loved our girls with a passion and appropriateness
that I had never witnessed.
He was attentive.
He disciplined in love and kindness.
He was not a push-over when it mattered,
but those girls had him wrapped around their little fingers!
Daddy was the one they asked first when they didn't think I'd say yes
because they knew he wanted them to have everything they wanted
regardless of what it may cost him personally.
He worked hard to provide for not only their needs,
but most of their wants.
He played with them.
He worked with them.
He taught them.
He learned from them.
He was fun.
And funny.
And one of the four most Godly men I have ever known.
And he loved their mama
and showed them what to look for in a mate
by his example!
Al taught me about the love of our Heavenly Father.
I never understood it until I saw him with our children.
Then, yes, only then, it became clear to me.
And my, oh my, how he loved those grandchildren!
He was "Big Papa" and loved it!
He enjoyed having his grandchildren around!
He loved playing with them!
He loved seeing them grow and change.
He loved teasing their frustrated mama's about how
he "once had a kid like that."
I love and miss you, my Alfie!
I always will!

My Lanny Love

I do not share children with Lanny.
I did not know him, witness him raising his children.
But I see the love he has for them.
And more importantly,
I see the love and respect they have for him!
And I see the love and respect he has for their mama.
And I know that my children and grandchildren are safe with him.
I know that I am safe with him.
One of the four most Godly men I have ever known,
thank You, Lord, for blessing me so a second time!
I love you, Lanny!
I always will.

Happy Father's Day to the dads in my life!
God has richly blessed me!
And I am grateful!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Consolation Prize

I've been thinking about gifts lately.

Miss America.
The winner gets a crown,
a really big bouquet of roses,
a nice contract,
and lots of great prizes.
The runner up gets a small bouquet,
the gratitude of the network for helping increase ratings,
and the distinction of being almost good enough to be the best.
Consolation prizes.

Super Bowl.
The winners get a great big trophy,
a really nice ring,
lots of money and contracts.
The second best team in the nation
gets tagged as losers.
They get a little money,
some may get a contract or two
playing on their status as losers.
Consolation prizes.

TV game shows.
The winners take home a lot of stuff.
Worth a lot of money.
Losers take home a "Thank-you-for-playing" gift
worth $2.95.
Consolation prizes.

Winners line their wallets with cash.
Losers have confetti from the shred bin.
Consolation prizes.

In other words,
people who don't get what they want,
who lose something they planned to win or keep,
get a "good enough" settlement.
Something that is better than nothing at all.
A consolation prize.

When my Al died,
I didn't think I would ever be happy again.
Then I feel in love and,
in the midst of my sorrow,
found a nugget of happiness.
Then more sorrow.
And happiness was again elusive.

I spent a lot of time talking to God
about taking my prize from me.
Not once, but twice.
I didn't understand.
I tried to find that nugget again
and failed miserably.
And God spoke.
"Be still and wait."
And so I did.
And finally, He said, "Now!"
And my Lanny Love.
Who is no consolation prize!
He is winning Miss America AND Miss Universe!
He is winning back-to-back Super Bowls!
He is buying the winning lottery ticket twice!
He is winning ALL the prizes on two game shows!
He is an amazing and wonderful gift from God.

And it has made me think.
Sometimes the Christian life is hard.
Sometimes it is costly.
Sometimes we have to give up things that,
in the eyes of the world in which we live,
are extremely valuable!
A friend.
A job.
A promotion.
A place.
A thing.
A spouse in death.
And, sometimes, even our own physical life.

But these things,
these expensive, precious things to which we cling,
these things are the consolation prize!
They are gifts God gives -
and takes away -
on our journey to get the real deal!

Picture it.
Judgment Day.
God looking in the Book of Life.
Seeing your name written down.
Saying, "Well done my good and faithful servant!"
Jesus, with love in His eyes,
placing a crown on your head,
wrapping you in His arms,
saying, "Welcome Home, my brother/sister!"

The race is hard!
There will be sweat!
Your heart will pound!
Your muscles will ache!
You will sometimes be short of breath!
Sometimes the path will be easy,
but sometimes it will be excrutiatingly difficult.
But when you cross that finish line as the winner,
it will have been worth it all!

Don't settle for the pleasures of this world
in place of the glory in eternity!
Don't settle for the consolation prize!
Run the race to win!
For great will be the reward!

But as it is written in the Scriptures:
"No one has ever seen this,
and no one has ever heard about it.
No one has ever imagined
what God has prepared for those
who love Him."
                                                                  ~~ I Corinthians 2:9 NCV ~~

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him,
and He helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise Him.

                                                                 ~~ Psalm28:7 NIV ~~

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"In My Heart" vs "In My Life"

I've been thinking about my title phrase a lot lately.
As my Lanny Love and I have grown
in our love for one another,
he has become a permanent fixture in my heart.
But being in one another's hearts
is not the same as being in one another's lives.
The two usually go hand-in-hand
with life involvement increasing
as love does,
but not always.
Not if one or the other chooses to keep a part of their life
separated from the one they love,
or chooses not to become a part of the other's life
outside of "just the two of us" relationship.
Unfortunately, lack of life involvement
usually indicates lack of commitment
or readiness for a real relationship
and will eventually kill it.

So, when we first "met"
we read about each other through
profiles and daily emails.
Eventually, we met in person,
exchanged phone numbers,
And began texting each day.
One week later, we had dinner together again.
More daily texts,
some phone calls,
lunch in the middle of the week,
longer, more frequent dates,
lunch with the kids,
well, you get it.
the natural desire to see more of each other,
become more a part of each other's lives
as love increases.

It is a danger signal,
relationship growth stops,
if one or both begin to pull back
or stay at status quo for too long.
If one is shut out
of keys aspects of the other's life,
or refuses to become a part of their life,
the relationship stagnates and,
while the love,
though at some point changed,
goes on,
the relationship will eventually die.

Finally, here is where i am going with this.
It is the same with God!
In the beginning is the excitement,
the desire to know Him,
spend time learning Him through His "profile",
the Bible,
talk to Him about the details of our lives.
We talk about Him some to others,
we begin to assimilate Him into our lives.
We want to spend time with Him,
we want to share our hurts and disappointments,
we thank Him for our joys and successes.
And it's wonderful!

But then He asks to go to that place.
You know the one.
Yes, that one.
That one where you allow no one
or only certain people!
That one where you know.
If you let Him in there,
nothing will ever be the same.
It will change your life.
It will change your relationship with him.
And you tell him "no, not there, not yet."
And you back off.

Suddenly, you aren't spending as much time with Him.
Suddenly, you find that you have other areas that are yours alone,
areas you don't want to share with Him,
areas you don't want touched by His presence.
You don't take Him there.
And you don't take that area to Him.

Oh, He is still in your heart.
You still love Him.
You still want a relationship with Him.
You just don't want it to be all encompassing.
You just don't want it to affect those areas.

And there it is.
You have two separate lives.
The God life where you love and serve Him.
And the other life that you keep Him away from.
And just like in human relationships that are shallow,
your relationship with Him begins to suffer.
You no longer feel as close to Him.
He is not your priority,
that other place has taken over.

A friend posted a wise saying on Facebook recently.
"How do you spell love?
T - I - M - E!
Spending time together."
If you are not spending time with Him,
if you are shutting Him out of key aspects of your life,
He will be the gentleman He always is
and will not go where He is not wanted.
But your relationship will suffer.
It will eventually die.
And it will be your choice.

So where are you not allowing God in your life?
Is it at work?
At school?
In a human relationship?
Is it an attitude?
Is it an emotion?
Where is it?
Where is He asking you to come that you don't want to go?
Is it church?
Is it a ministry?

Is it worth your relationship with Him?
Make the choice!
Let Him into your life,
not just your heart!
Let Him take you into His life for you!
Let the whole world see!
Let them know you love Him!
That you are His!
That He is yours!
Let Him into your life,
not just into your heart,
and see what happens to your relationship!

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him,
and He helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise Him.

                                                                 ~~ Psalm28:7 NIV ~~

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Significant Day

Yesterday was a significant day.
I couldn't figure it out.
I'd been sad, thinking about something -
a loss I experienced -
a lot the last few days.
Then yesterday afternoon,
it hit me.
It was a "date".
One of "those" dates.
And I allowed myself to weep for a bit.

I read an interesting blog post on grief and loss today.
I especially like this quote:
I think Christians have an added obstacle to grieving in a healthy way because we get scared when our thoughts are despairing and our emotions are unstable. We punt those thoughts and feelings as fast as we can because we think they mean we don’t have faith. Instead of allowing ourselves to ask the hard questions before a heavenly Father who loves us, we explain away our anger and pain by slapping on some Bible verses and forcing ourselves to smile through the pain.

But this is never what God intended. So many of us are bleeding. And not the type of bleeding that comes from a scraped knee. We’re talking gunshot wounds and jagged cuts. We don’t need a Band-Aid. We need a surgeon.
My Lanny Love and I talked about grief last evening -
in a different context than my grief of yesterday,
but the oddities and survival of grief nonetheless.
A recently remarried widow friend woke weeping
for her deceased husband the other night.
She wondered if it was normal,
even though she loves her new husband
with all her heart,
to still love and miss her late husband.
I, and a number of other widowed women,
told her it was.
She was concerned her new husband,
also widowed,
was hurt.
So I asked my Lanny Love.
He agreed that, from a male perspective,
it was completely normal
to love and miss one's late spouse.
He also agreed one could indeed deeply love
more than one person -
within the context of loss and grief -
without taking anything
from the other(s).

One of the most difficult things to reconcile in this process
is the never-endingness of grief.
While it changes, softens,
the loss is always there and,
from time-to-time,
it feels fresh and new
even as it ages.
And while the type of grief may matter somewhat,
I think that loss of any kind
produces grief.
The depth of the grief is in direct relation
to the depth of the loss.

But there is hope!
God does not want us to remain mired down in our grief!
Regardless of what our loss is,
whether relational through death or break-up,
or an event loss such as job, home, finances, etc.,
we honor God by moving forward!
If we believe God is in control,
then we must believe He chose to allow our loss.
He didn't necessarily cause it,
but He allowed it!

And so, once again,
I picked up the pieces of my broken heart yesterday.
I placed them carefully in God's Hand of mercy and grace.
I turned to Him with tears,
said, "I don't understand..."
And He replied softly,
"I know."
And He held me close,
caressed me,
whispered words of restoration to me.
And I move forward,
live the life He has given me!
With joy!
With abandon!
With gratitude for His touch,
His love,
His understanding,
His many blessings!

Life is good!

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him,
and He helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise Him.

                                                                 ~~ Psalm28:7 NIV ~~