Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmases Kept In My Heart

Yet again, it's been a while since I've blogged. Seems I rarely had time before and now that I have taken on babysitting Monday-Friday I have even less time. But ... here goes what's been on my mind lately.

It's the holiday season, and well, it's my first Christmas without my precious Daddy. I miss him so much - more than words can say.

I feel to some degree like I'm forgetting to do something - no doubt a feeling caused by the empty void left impossible to fill.

I started to write him a Christmas card and put a picture of Ellie in it as I have done every year, but then realized there was nowhere to send it. I kept wanting to pick up the phone to call him and tell him that I would see him soon, but ... tears instead. Instead I just talked to the air and told him how much I miss him and that where ever he is I wish him a happy and Merry Christmas. What I wouldn't give to hear his voice one last time.

Somehow I knew last year was indeed that - our last Christmas together. I wish I had spent that entire day with him or at least stayed with him longer. But too late for that now.

I've recalled the Christmases of my youth lately - times when Daddy was in better health and times when he and Mama were still together.

Daddy used to get so sad around Christmas. He had a hard upbringing and Christmases were just hard for him and his family. They were less than privileged, and I guess Daddy had a hard time letting that go - at least before he gave himself to God. But I guess what also made remembering his own childhood Christmases so hard was what I am now experiencing: Daddy knew the most important thing in life was family, and I guess when Christmas time rolled around he missed his all the more - his parents who had passed, his two brothers and even countless friends who had gone on before him.

I now know what my Daddy was feeling. This Christmas I did good to forget that my daddy is no longer here, if only for a few minutes of each passing day. And I told the air that - told him that. I told him that I finally understand what it was he was so sad about. I told the air that I was glad he didn't have to be sad anymore, but that I missed him all the same.

And then, as if in response, a few days after I told the air how much I missed him, I found a Christmas card from him that seemed to satisfy the void for now.

See, I have kept every card - especially every Christmas card - ever given to me. This year I decided it was time to throw some out, and I was doing just that when I came across one that read:
Keep in your heart
This warm special wish
For a Christmas that's filled with pleasure
Keep in your heart
The many dear thoughts
Of a daughter who's truly a treasure
Keep in your heart
The joy that you're wished
In so many big ways and small ways
Keep in your heart
The love that is yours
For today, for tomorrow, for always."

And then in the most familiar handwriting were written the words:
I miss you so much all the time. But much more at this time of the year.
- Love Dad"

I laughed and cried at the same time. I was both overwhelmed with joy and overcome with grief all in one moment. But I knew in my heart that Daddy had got the messages that I thought I was only blubbering to the air. I knew in an instant that Daddy wouldn't want me to be sad, because he no longer had to miss those he loves. I believe he is with them now, and that one day soon we will all be together. And where we will be, well I guess you could say they celebrate Christmas time for all eternity! And so ... I am a little less sad now.

With this blog I post a scan of the card and a collage of pictures from Christmases past - Christmases with my Daddy and brother - Christmases that I will always keep in my heart.

To everyone who reads, I pray that you too will always keep Christmas in your heart, but more importantly that you will always keep in your heart those who you call family, who mean the most to you and especially the one who makes Christmas possible.

I pray God's blessings to all who read.

Thanks for stopping by and for letting me share.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Forgive But Never Forget

I know every year on this day I write this same blog (or at least one very similar). But 11 years ago today (14 as I make some updates), hatred struck our nation with such cruelty that it is necessary to remember the outcome of those violent acts.  

See ... I was living on another planet 11 years ago. I was high on drugs and just living in a completely different "reality." My head was in the clouds. Anyone who knew or hung around me at the time can vouch for my self-destructive lifestyle. It never occurred to me that I had a soul to be responsible for, much less, it never occurred to me that America had enemies. Of all the countries in the world, I naively believed that America was the greatest and the most loved, and that everyone in the world wanted to live here.

The 9/11 attacks took place while I was en route to my job at Vanderbilt. When I walked through the doors there was a very heavy silence, and people everywhere were huddled around computer monitors. I asked my friend Katie what was going on. She said, "One of the twin towers has been hit by a plane. They think it's a terrorist attack." I was in instant disbelief.

 As the day grew on, we would watch yet another plane hit the remaining tower, and watch in shock as the towers fell. We would watch the reports of another plane flown into the Pentagon and even hear of United Airlines Flight 93 that crash landed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. Thousands of heroes lost their lives that day because America had a very real enemy -- AND STILL DOES.

My vocabulary expanded that day. I learned the words "radical," "Islam" and "Jihad." I learned about a radicalism so deeply rooted in evil that is cannot be fathomed. According to the authoritative Dictionary of Islam, jihad is defined as "A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad ... for the purpose of advancing Islam and repelling evil from Muslims." Jihad is an Islamic term and is an important religious duty of Muslims. According to the above definition, if you believe something other than what they believe -- like it or not, aware of it or not -- you are at war with them. I still cannot get my mind around one's desire to serve in a religion that would require them to see all other peoples of the world as enemies and even infidels who must be put to death for simply believing something different than oneself.

Most unbelievers in America think that Christians "force their religion down other people's throats," but in reality, it's not the religion of Christianity that they have to worry about. I am appalled every time I hear or read that over-exaggerated statement -- that Christians "force their beliefs on others" -- while around the world radical Islamic Muslims are cutting the throats of anyone who aligns themselves with any other god but Allah. (And do not be deceived: Allah and Yahweh are not the same God as many believe.) People should really think about the words they say before they let them leave their mouths. The unbelievers of America have no idea how good they have it!

We recently had a special guest speaker at Cornerstone Church, Brigitte Gabriel, who spoke of her life growing up as a Christian in an Islam-occupied Lebanon during that country's own civil war. She has many critics who do not believe her testimony to be the full truth, but full truth or not, her testimony is one that leaves you thankful for the freedoms of our American-born lives! Google her and read about the terrors she survived at the hands of "people" who really are forcing their beliefs and religion on others in the world.

Sept. 11, 2001, was a turning point in my life. It was beautiful weather much like today. As I entered the office that morning and was met with the news of what had just taken place in New York, my first assumption wasn't that of terrorism -- that was furthest from my mind. I once heard somewhere that government mandate wouldn't allow two born again believers of Jesus Christ to operate a commercial jet. It was said that one had to be a non-believer. I guess our government wanted to cover all their bases in the event that this whole "rapture thing" held any truth. And to this day I don't know if that statement is true or not, but I do know that God used it to convict me. Cause you see, that's exactly what I thought had happened -- that the Rapture had taken place. I sat there at my desk contemplating my life and the tribulations to come.

When those planes hit those two towers it was a wake-up call for me. I could've just as easily been one of the 3,000-plus people who lost their lives that day. I said to myself, "Okay, that's it! I don't want to live a life of sin anymore." For the first time in my life, though I had been raised in church and raised to know God, I finally had a revelation of who God was, who Jesus was, and how He, through the Holy Spirit, had always been with me -- operating behind the scenes of my life.

All the news broadcasts were confirming the terrorist attacks. Once I realized that the Rapture of God's saints hadn't happened, I began to question myself and how I was living. I felt compelled by a call to "take up my cross," but didn't immediately surrender to it. Over the next 4 days it was a call that became louder in my spirit; I was in a war of my own. All around me, an unseen, bloodless battle was being fought for my soul. I was waging God's will against my own. It had become painfully clear that I was standing at a crossroads. On Sept. 15, 2001, I finally said yes to Jesus! I could no longer concern myself with what anyone thought of me. After all, I had come into this world alone and I would leave this world the same way!

I am so glad for the sacrifice of Christ! And in a very reverent and respectful sense, I am glad for 9/11 and the 3,000 people who unknowingly died for me -- even those flying the planes. If it weren't for the price of their lives I would've never had this revelation!

Since that day, life hasn't been easy. I have had many struggles, both public and private. I have stumbled and fallen many times, but unlike life before Christ, I don't stay down! With His help, I am able to pick myself back up again, shake the dust off and move on with Him -- I in Him and Him in me!

And please don't take this blog as an attack on Islamic Muslims or unbelievers of Christ. There have been other news reports since my conversion that have struck a cord in my soul and have opened my eyes to the evil in this world: Like the fatal shooting of a technical school headmaster in Eching, Germany, by a factory worker who lost his job and then traveled to the school from which he had been expelled -- as though it was the school's fault he was fired! He wounded another teacher before fatally shooting himself. That was February of 2002.

In October of 2006, five Amish girls were shot and killed before the gunman took his own life in Lancaster County, Pa.

In April of 2007, the infamous Virginia Tech massacre took place.

I recall the murder of Canadian Tim McLean, who on July 30, 2008, was beheaded and cannibalised on a Greyhound bus while the bus driver and other passengers fled in horror.

The Dendermonde daycare massacre of 2009 will never leave my memory. The stabbings took place in a small village in Belgium. Three people were stabbed to death and 12 "mutilated." The killer was reported to have been wearing black and white make up with vivid red hair like that of "The Joker." A total of 2 infants and one adult were killed, six children between the ages of 1-3 were seriously injured. The perpetrator simply got on his bike and rode off like nothing happened.

And speaking of The Joker, the more recent movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises is most likely the freshest on most of our memories, but it is quickly moving to the back of our brains. Twelve people thought they were just going to see a movie, but they never came home. Fifty-eight people survived but are forever traumatized! How quickly our society moves on and forgets tragedy!

And perhaps the more recent and more local stabbings in our own Bellevue, Tenn., community can more easily be accounted. A 14-year-old boy, his mother and grandmother were stabbed to death at around 3 a.m. on Sept. 3. A 9-year-old girl survived. She ran to a neighbor's house for help. That same neighbor reported seeing the assailant going through the home of the victims "very nonchalantly." I find it interesting that the attacks happened around 3 a.m. -- what is known as the witching hour, the hour of day that demonic activity is at its peak.

*And since the original post date of this particular blog, Sandy Hook happened. On December 14, 2012, news reports have explained countless times how "a man dressed in black fatigues and armed with two handguns entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and killed 27 people, of which 20 were small children."

I cannot begin to fathom the fear in the minds of those precious babies! I cannot begin to imagine the anguish of those parents! Most of us give no thought each morning as we send our children off to school. We wake up in turbo mode with thoughts of the day already on our mind: What to wear? Who's dropping the kids off -- mom or dad? Getting to softball or soccer practice on time. What's for dinner? At the beginning of each day our thoughts immediately rush to the end of it and bypass the very moments and people who make our lives what it is. You ask those parents today what their regrets are and I'm sure it will sound something like, "I wished I had hugged my kids a little longer and a little closer that morning," or "I wished I had told them one more time how much I loved them."

My point in all this is that there is a very real evil in this world. One that is even after the very innocent among us -- our children. Evil has no compassion for age or innocence. In fact, that's what makes evil so evil; it seeks to devour purity. It takes advantage of the Godless and molests the idea of goodness.

And I'm not neccesarily pointing fingers at Islamic Jihadists, Muslims or the mentally insane. It is not that simple. There is an underlying, unseen devil at play who wants to destroy the human soul. When tragedy strikes, people ask how God can let such things happen but what they don't understand, what they don't see, is the invisible big picture. There is an unseen spiritual realm where the devil and his demons are constantly waging war against us. They win out every time we blame another or blame God. What we fail to realize is that the seed of evil is in us all. It is something we are all capable of, but also something we can keep at bay through the help of the Holy Spirit.

There are other words I learned on Sept. 11, 2001; words like "grace," "mercy" and "forgiveness." They weren't an addition to my vocabulary, but rather I finally learned the true meaning. Grace, for example, is unmerited favor. That means there is nothing I (or you) can do -- nothing too bad or nothing so great -- to earn the favor of God. Mercy is the compassion extended toward an offender or enemy. I was once an enemy of God. Because of the cross of Christ He now calls me "friend." And forgiveness ... well that's one of God's many attributes that I still have trouble getting my mind around. Let's break down the word forgive. For-give or "Fore"-give: to give away something before or ahead of a designated time. Forgiveness is the disposition of God about our sin. Meaning before time began, He decided He would give pardon to our wrong-doings even before they happened. That means that the sins I committed before I gave my life to Christ were settled by the debt He paid on the cross. And the sins that I will commit in the future (because God knows I am not perfect) are covered by that one same act. "It is finished."

We must forgive, but never forget ... lest we ourselves forget how to extend grace, mercy and forgiveness! God be with the families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks. God be with those who are born into and forced to serve evil radicalism and God be with us all today as we forget our own unGodly capabilities (because we will). Holy Spirit, please remind us of our human condition, but help us to be more Christ-like in spite of it! Amen!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Life Goes On ... On Eastboro

So we've been here almost 4 months and things are falling into place. Not a lot has changed since my last post. More things are probably hung on my wall, and I'm beginning to feel a little more settled.

Ellie is still potty-training. I thought we would be so much farther on that by now, but it seems she has begun to regress a bit. She prefers to run around naked, and I let her do that for a time because it was just easier. She sees pull-ups or panties as security, and so she goes in them; but when she's naked she goes to the potty every time. Well, here lately I have been making her wear panties so that she gets adjusted to them, and ... well ... I honestly think she is peeing in them just to spite me. She literally went through 5 or 6 pair today, and I think it was just so she could finally run out of clean ones and go naked again. It's all good though. We are getting there. I make her wear panties when we go to the park since it's so close to home. She has to get used to wearing them, so that's that!

And speaking of the park, we are trying to get there more regularly since some of this dreaded heat has died down. We both need the exercise. It's nice to wear her out early in the morning. She's out-growing those afternoon naps, but most days, if we can make it to the park, she will take one that afternoon. This nicer weather has drawn a few of the other neighbors out as well, and so I'm finally starting to meet people and make new acquaintances. Just the other day we met Mr. Gregory who knew some of my uncles. He was visiting Charlotte Park with his granddaughter Shyanne; she and Ellie played very well together. I often think about the family picnics we used to have there when Brandon and I were small. Mama and Aunt Jackie would take us there along with Greg and Kevin (Andrew wasn't born yet) and our Big Wheels! Brandon got stung by a wasp in that park. That's when we discovered his unfortunate allergy. As a teenager, when daddy lived on Ivy Street (one entry to the park), I used to sneak out in the middle of the night to meet Danny Sonn, Kelly Walker and whoever else would drink or smoke with me and my best friend Jamie. I'm glad to have this in common with Ellie now, though I hope it won't one day become her refuge for rebellion as it did me.

I don't think about daddy near as much; I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's nice to run into older people from time to time who remember him or my other family members. I do take spontaneous "alternate routes" to or from the grocery store sometimes though ... just so I can pass our old house or granny's old house on Deal Avenue. Brandon used to push his toy lawn mower all the way up Deal hill to cut granny's grass. That old duplex has been flipped to a single family residence now, and granny's house burned down. It's been rebuilt, but it just ain't the same. Or sometimes I will ride by my daddy's old house on Ethel. Now that's the one that's real hard for me. I did a lot of growing up there. I definitely didn't move out the same person that moved in. I really got to know my dad there, spent many Christmases there, broke up and got back together with Alan there. I lived there when Daddy gave me Scat (the cat), when I was struggling in my addictions, when daddy was diagnosed, and most importantly, I gave my life to Christ in that front bedroom. There's a willow tree he planted that stands tall and majestic in the front yard; it lords over the house! I doubt my daddy ever thought that thing would ever get that big. The little yellow house sits on some rocky ground, but daddy must have somehow found the only thriving soil in the yard. I wonder if he knows how big it has gotten? While I'm there I usually swing the truck down Mackey Alley where he and grandma lived in the little rock house. And then to get home, I of course have to pass by the gray house on Robertson Road that we rented from the Hulans. We lived there many years. It's hard to look down that driveway and not see my daddy tinkering on a car. Even when I go downtown for whatever reason (farmer's market or the bank), I drive by the old TDOT station where daddy used to work. The station itself isn't there anymore but the old warehouses are. I remember daddy would take us along on his "rounds" sometimes, and even would let us turn the key. Only my brother would know what I mean by that. We used to play for hours on the state construction trucks that were parked in the yard behind the gas station. It's amazing the memories that come flooding back when I see those old buildings!

I love being back here. Most days it feels like I never left. Columbia is such a distant memory -- like I was never there. I love being at home with Ellie, even though most days are a challenge for us both. I admit that stay-at-home-momness is harder than I could have ever imagined. It's still very much a full time job, and I often wonder how I didn't manage to work myself to death when I was at The Daily Herald. I worked 40-plus hours a week and somehow managed to be mom and wife. I just don't know how I ever did it! I mean, I still don't have time to blog like I had hoped I would. That's why it's been nearly 2 months since I last wrote. But I'm learning time management, and things are getting easier.

I miss my mama! I wished I could see her and talk to her more often. I miss the true friends that I made in Columbia, and I fear that unless I can dedicate some time to focus on those relationships, they will wither as life has a way of doing to all of us -- it just grows us apart. I do pray that in the meantime I make new friends. Maybe I can find some at Cornerstone. That's where we finally settled down for church. We visited other churches, but Cornerstone just felt like home. For a large church they are welcoming and warm, and you don't get that little-fish-big-pond feeling as you might think. The messages are always on time and relevant, and the worship is awesome, which is the main thing I needed!

Anyway ... that's the up to date on things as of now. I hope to continue to manage my time better so that I can write more often.

In the meantime, enjoy a listen to this song that's been playing in my head as I take these nostalgic tours through my childhood.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Home Again ... With a Little Help From My Daddy

Wow! Where to start! I finally feel like I can breathe again ... a little bit anyway.

As many of you may know, Robert and I finally made that move back to West Nashville that we had talked about for so long; we have now been here 2 months. It's odd ... I feel like I am home again. I always said I would never move back here because it's just not the same old West Nashville it was when I grew up here, but now that I'm here, it feels like I have returned to my roots. I have been very nostalgic since Daddy died, and since the move I find that feeling has increased. Something about living in the same town that he and most of my family are from makes me feel like I am where I need to be right now. It's almost like Daddy had a hand in this somehow. How so?

Well, up until he died, I struggled with not being able to get to him. I had so much going on. I worked full-time-plus hours at a job that paid a part-time wage. It was a very stressful job. I may have been hired for an 8 a.m.-5 p.m. shift with an hour lunch break, but the truth is I rarely got to leave for lunch and rarely left at 5 o'clock. The job alone was stressful enough to anyone who was young and single, but throw in the fact that I'm not as young as I used to be, am a full-time wife, full-time mommy, had an ailing father 40 miles away and rarely a vehicle that worked ... well ... I always felt like my life was in control of me. Ya know what I mean? I never had the reigns.

I would daydream about being a stay-at-home-mommy, and had even discussed moving my dad in with us so that I could always be with him. Every time I thought about the fact that my daddy was sick and lived alone I throbbed inside. I just knew he would die alone, and I wanted so much to keep that from happening. It was so important to me for him to know that I loved him and wanted nothing more than to take care of him.

But ... Daddy was bent on staying at his own home in Centerville. Plus, he didn't want me to be the one to bathe him and dress him; I think for him that was a humiliating thought. Sure, he knew I would do it, but I think the idea of his child being his caretaker in some small way robbed him of his dignity.

Besides that, Ellie has stayed sick since she was born. From birth to 12 months we dealt with acid reflux. Somewhere around 18 months she developed the allergy-aggravated-asthma thing. From 1 to 2 and 1/2 years of age, she kept ear infections and sinus infections. Then from around 2 and 1/2 until February of this year she has struggled with constant vomiting and what the doctors were diagnosing as "toddlers' diarrhea." It's just a fancy way of saying, "Hey, your kid pukes all the time and has chronic diarrhea, and we don't know why." Symptomatically it's the same thing as IBS. For Ellie certain foods set it off -- particularly anything that should be healthy for you. At her age, certain fats are essential and her body has this really gross way of rejecting low-fat or fat free foods.

Everything mentioned above is stuff I am told she will grow out of in time, but when this started happening I started losing sleep and really, I felt at times like I was losing my mind. I mean, only other parents who have dealt with this can understand what I mean when I say, "There's a point where you get lost in the poop and puke, and it's hard to come back!" Somewhere in the midst of "all this" we did decide to get Ellie tubes to tame the ear infections; plus we had hoped that it would help at least with the vomiting. It did. But the diarrhea continued. Even up until the day before my daddy died.

February 28th: We took her to Maury Regional's ER because we were worried that she had become dehydrated. They ran their tests, did their diligence, but at the end of the day (literally), they sent us home with the "toddlers' diarrhea" explanation. My Daddy called that night to check on her; he died the next morning.

If one could will themselves to die, in some small way I believe he did. I think he could hear the struggle in my voice; the toil of the hand life had dealt me was audible. Not only that, but just a few weeks before I had told him how stressed I was starting to feel about everything -- working all the time, being a wife, being a mom, how Sick Ellie stayed. I remember telling him that I felt like I just wanted to give up.

I think Ellie's trip to the ER kind of sealed the deal. Not that it's her fault or anyone's fault. No, not at all! It's just that he loved his children so much -- all of his children: Brandon, me, Peyton AND Ellie -- that he would do ANYTHING for us. Even if it meant his life.

When his insurance policy reimbursed what Robert and I paid towards funeral costs, it made the move to Nashville possible by covering our moving expenses. Once we made the move, we saved virtually the same amount in Robert's gas as I was bringing home from The Daily Herald. Which ultimately meant that I didn't have to get in a big hurry about finding a new job, making me, if only short lived, a stay-at-home mommy!

Now I know my Heavenly father knows what I have need of, and I know that He was working behind the scenes of it all. But a small part of me can't help but believe that my earthly Daddy knew what I had need of too, and somehow willed it all to happen through his death. The Bible says that there is no greater love than this (John 15:13), and every day that I am here -- at home with my baby girl -- every time I look at her sweet face, I know that both my daddies love me and care for me and have nothing but our best interests at heart.

And do you know what else? That trip to the ER was the last time Ellie has had any IBS symptoms! It's truly miraculous to me how it all happened.

Now, this week, she has shown signs of her first ear infection since getting tubes in December, but she has been a healthy, happy girl since that day. We don't have insurance right now, but we do at least have all the drops she would be prescribed anyway -- even if I could afford to take her somewhere. So we're taking care of it; she's getting better everyday. And if for some reason she should begin with the symptoms all over again, my experiences over these past few months have taught me that my FATHERS will take care of me and her, and I have nothing to worry for anymore.

So you see, I am finally breathing a little easier! I am home again -- literally and spiritually. I have put my trust in the Lord, in my Daddy God because I know he has nothing but good plans for me, for us. (Jer. 29:11) And I feel like I now have someone on the other side who is also making sure it all works out for us.

Well, I meant to catch you up on all that has happened in 2 months, but somehow, as usual, the subject has turned to my daddy. I'll try next time to fill y'all in about life here on Eastboro. Till next time ...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Remembering Daddy

For most who have not heard, my precious Daddy went to be with the Lord recently — Feb. 29, 2012, to be exact. Leave it to my Daddy to go out on a day that only comes around every 4 years. In life, he liked to think of himself as unique, and it is only fitting that he died on that day.
Thank you to everyone who has sent well-wishes, who have sent up prayers for us or who came out to his memorial service. To everyone who has called to check on me and my family, everyone who has pitched in to help with the expenses or who have even helped me start the process of cleaning up his place in Centerville: Thank you! Thank you to all his neighbors and to my family members who checked on him while he was still with us ... be it to make sure he had groceries, medicines or physical care. "Thank you" seems like such small words, but more profound words escape me right now. You will never know the depth of my gratitude.
I miss him so much already! I cannot explain this hole left in my soul. I know he wasn't my child; I was his, but all the same I feel a part of me died with him.
But I am not angry, bitter or upset at God. No, not at all. Instead I praise God that daddy is finally healed and whole; that he is not suffering anymore.
Ya know ... my daddy was born premature. It seems lung issues would always be an issue for him. He defied the odds though -- especially those of 1954. Daddy weighed just barely over a pound when he entered this world; I've been told countless times about how he could fit in the palm of your hand. His parents were told he would never make it ... but God!
Then, as he grew and his "club feet" became more apparent, his parents were told that he would never walk ... but God!
Over and over God placed my daddy in the hands of caring people and skilled surgeons. He had numerous surgeries to correct the ligaments in his legs and was repeatedly casted for "special shoes." I remember how daddy used to always tell me how he wore shoes like Forrest Gump when he was a child.
Daddy used to tell me stories about crawling around on his belly and talking to Jesus -- telling God, "Lord if you'll just let me walk ... " And walk he did! Because of God.
Daddy walked with a limp for the rest of his life, but ... those of us who wrestle with God over our life's blessings usually do.
So ... I'm not at all bitter at God, but rather I am grateful. Grateful for the life he gave my daddy and for the time I had him.
It was 9 years ago that he was diagnosed with end stage COPD. Then, around Thanksgiving of 2006 when he was hospitalized in Baptist Hospital's ICU, I was told to say my good-byes then. And in some way that is just what I've been doing ever since -- grieving him and his death before he was ever even gone. In a way, I feel that was God's was of preparing me for my daddy's passing.
I have often woken up in the wee hours of the morning just certain that he was gone. I would catch my breath then dial his number to make sure he was still here. It didn't matter if it was 3 a.m., daddy always welcomed the call. It wasn't till  after he passed that I found out about his sleep apnea. Who knows ... maybe in those wee hours he had stopped breathing; maybe he had left us. Either way, it wasn't his time then.
I miss him something awful now though. I know this wound is still fresh and that I have to keep pushing myself to move on, but ... well ... it's minute by minute. I breath in; I breath out and then I just keep pushing on. But I miss him.
I last spoke to him the night before he died. We talked for maybe 5 minutes. If I had only known I would never hear his voice again, I would've told him a million times that I loved him. Three weeks before that was the last time I saw him. Ellie and I spent the night at his place in Centerville. I spent most the night chasing her rather than caring for him. They fell asleep around the same time. I kept checking in on him to make sure he was still breathing. The next morning I got up and made him breakfast -- 2 fried egg sandwiches. Not long after that I was hurrying out his door to chase down the other responsibilities in my life. Had I only known that would've been the last time I would see him I would have lingered. I would've talked to him about nothing, watched a TV show with him before I left, held his hand a little while longer, hugged him just a little tighter ... something.
But how could I have known? Even though we spent years preparing for his passing, knowing how he would die, we still couldn't have known when. Someone you know could be diagnosed with cancer today, told the exact time and day they will die and it will still come as a shock when they do.
I dunno ... maybe somewhere in my spirit I did know. The wee morning wake-ups were coming more and more frequent, and on Feb. 16th I woke up at 4 a.m. and started writing his eulogy. I just felt led to do it for some reason. Another God-thing I guess. No ... I know it was God, because there was no one else but me to speak for him when his memorial came.
He had been home-bound for at least 3 years and though he had many church friends and was devoted in his faith, he had no pastor. I didn't want some funeral director who didn't know my daddy to speak up for his spirituality. That would've been so impersonal. No. No one was gonna speak up for my daddy but me! I felt in my heart like it was something I was meant to do. I'm so glad I woke up that morning and had most of it already written. God is good.
And sure ... there were others who got up and shared memories about him, but when it came to "preaching" the funeral, I know that is something I was anointed by God to do. It was only by His grace that I got through it.
And now ... now I know what it truly means to be homesick. I'm not suicidal, but I am ready to die. I hope someone out there understands what I mean by that. Now I have someone to look forward to. Not that I didn't already have Christ -- I do. But let's be honest: None of us alive today have never actually seen Jesus, talked to him, walked beside him, held his hand, hugged his neck and so on. Sure we all have had spiritual experiences, and because of the Holy Spirit we know that we are not alone, that we can have a relationship with God and that in the spirit realm He walks beside us, but somehow we can't get our minds around seeing Him one day.
Now I can. Somehow it's easier to imagine myself transitioning from this world into the next. Picturing my daddy kneeling before Christ makes envisioning heaven so much easier -- and sweeter! I can't wait to finally go home, and every day I am one day closer to that. This world truly holds nothing for me anymore. I love my family: my mom, my husband, my child and they are my reason for picking myself up every day and carrying on, but if God came calling today I don't think I would hesitate to go on with Him!
Anyway ... before this blog gets much sadder or longer ... I just wanted to say thank you to every one and share my daddy with y'all one more time. I'm sure it won't be the last.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Behold I will do a new thing," says he LORD

Isaiah 43:18-20

New Living Translation (NLT)
 18 “But forget all that—
      it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
 19 For I am about to do something new.
      See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
   I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
      I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
 20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
      the jackals and owls, too,
      for giving them water in the desert.
   Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
      so my chosen people can be refreshed."

It's a new year, and I'm glad for it. I look at the new year as a new opportunity to do new things: try something new, start a new project or just grant myself a new start on an old yet abandoned mission.
That's why this year I am starting a Bible study in my home. Now I don't know how long it will last or even how many will come, all I do know is that it's the something new I've been needing for a long time. I will begin it and hope to hold faithful. I can only trust God to send those who are as hungry as I am.
See, I need to be new again ... to let God make me new again. This is the year I stop trying to renew myself without his help.
I have been a Christian for a long time now, but it's been a while since there has been significant spiritual growth in my life. I'm ready for that.
If you're reading this blog then you are invited to my home this Tuesday night (that's tonight) at 7:30 p.m. for introductions. If you can't make it but wish to come in the future, I will try to review each week what was discussed the week before.
Tonight I will begin what I hope will become an eye-opening series I like to call "Whom Do You Say That I Am?"
It will be and in-depth look at Jesus the man and Jesus the Christ.
See, as a "Christian," I have pondered many times in recent years the practices, traditions and supposed beliefs that make up the faith; things like what holidays we celebrate and why, what versions of the Bible we read, the "Christianese" we speak or our many other "Heavenly" sayings.
I've rolled it over in my head so many times now that the only question I feel appropriate to begin a "Christian" Bible study with is "Who was Jesus of Nazareth?"
I mean, if being Christian means to be Christ-like then we could just as well call ourselves Christ Followers — that is if we are indeed following him.
So on this note I will begin my study with topics like:
The Jesus of Nazareth
The Jewish Jesus
Jesus The Man
Jesus The Christ
Whom Do We Say That He Is?
Why Should We Follow Him?
Letting Our Lives Reflect Him
I want to KNOW him this year — truly KNOW him.
I used to be someone whose life pointed to him, but some where along the road of becoming wife and mother I have forgotten how to be that person. Now I do good to do what the pastor tells me each Sunday.
But I don't want to be that person anymore. I want to know him for myself. I don't want my pastor to teach me about Jesus; I want Jesus to teach me about Jesus!
If you feel the same I would love to see you!
I'm at 908 Autumnwood Circle in Columbia.
Call for directions at 931.286.1326.