Life from the rear-view mirror

Heartlight… Vol 29

momanddad

I’m sitting in the hospital with my mom while dad has an angiogram. This time it’s not simply for observation…but rather confirmation for heart surgery in early May to repair or replace a leaky valve. Then cataract surgery after that.

My parents have reached their 80’s in pretty good health considering. There’s still a twinkle in their eyes and my dad is still my “go to” person for anything mechanical (just as long as he has paper to draw on…)

As our family has grown, gotten busy and not able to travel together as much, mom and dad have made the 90 mile drive from their home to ours every couple of months or so to be involved in the kids lives (and to see Rusty…)

But in the last year or so they have finally started to slow up. Dad can only work on a project for an hour or so before he tires, and mom’s knees and back keep her limping and in need of a walker. These days they both take more naps…as do I :))

But despite the health challenges, dad still serves and teaches at church and mom still hosts missionaries, cooks for the two of them and gets out with her friends regularly. They are enjoying life, their friends, their family and most of all, each other. They celebrated their 60th anniversary a few years back. That’s quite a feat these days…and quite a goal to shoot for. (Let’s see 60 years with Kathy would put me at 118…nope…gotta choose another goal…)

I don’t know how many years God will give them. I’m hoping for many more. But whenever the Lord chooses to bring them home, they will be greatly missed. They have been a beacon of faith and love and commitment that has shone some eighty plus years that fewer and fewer families get to see these days.  It’s a legacy that I can only hope to leave for my children. Mom and dad have loved and sacrified for Brian and me in ways we will probably never know. They have prayed for us…admonished us…helped us and shown us what Godly parents are supposed to look like.

Occasionally my kids will have to be someplace else when Grandma and Grandpa are at the house. To them it’s no big deal, Grandma and Grandpa don’t always have exciting things to talk about…and they don’t know the new music…sometimes it’s hard to bridge a 60-70 year gap. I understand that…but I have a better sense these days that my kids need to love them now…in any way they can…because my mom and dad will be going home before too long. And my kids have much to learn from them…heck…I still have a lot to learn from them. “Love them while you can” takes on a whole new meaning with older parents. They have always been there…but they won’t be forever.

Mom…Dad…I can’t tell you how much I love and appreciate all you’ve done for me and the way you have loved me in spite of me and my antics. If I had the chance to choose my parents…I would have chosen you!

Ephesians 6:1-4  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dugz4 April 9, 2013 1 Comment Permalink

Home for dinner….Vol 28

photoKathy and I will celebrate our 6 month anniversary at the end of the month. I’ll be honest…it feels like we’ve been together a lot longer…and that’s a good thing. The tensions and stresses don’t seem to hit us quite so hard (and we have had some…) we forgive quicker, and we’re quicker to  forget. Encouragement is a part of every conversation. There is lots of affection ..and dinner with the family has been reinstated.

My kids are older now and busy with their lives but this dinner thing has been interesting. They seem to have missed having dinner together…and they did…for nearly 5 and a half years while we were going through Lori’s illness. But Kathy has revived the tradition and it’s been welcomed…even celebrated. But as good as the food is…the interaction around the table has been the most rewarding and revealing part.

Everyone is more at comfortable around the dinner table and conversation flows more easily.

The kids bring up stories from the past and things that happened during the day. We talk about sports, music, church, health, God, job searching and more. For Kathy, it’s a chance to get to know the kids she is helping me parent. For the kids… it’s a chance to get to know Kathy and eat some amazing food. For me…its a few minutes to be together.. to peek into their lives and maybe get a bit of a bead on how they are really doing. (more on that another time) But any way you slice it…it’s pretty cool. I wasn’t sure we’d every have this kind of family time again…and I’m very thankful that we do.

Even though the tradition of dinner is reestablished, it is still rare that we have all 4 kids with us at every meal. There’s bound to be one or more kids at a friend’s house, working, playing sports or some other activity. And I miss them when they are not there. As I’ve grown older, and now lost some people who have been close to me , I’m more conscious of how short the time is with my kids to prepare them for life with its bumps and bruises.. It’s difficult not to focus on what I’ve done wrong rather than take advantage of the time I have left to do right. I realize that they will have to make decisions that will impact the outcome of their lives. I’ll feel responsible if they choose poorly and I’ll be thrilled when they choose well. But I will love them, encourage them, pray for them and support them either way…because that’s what a good parent should do…That’s what a loving parent does.

Of all the things I could do as a parent to raise them well…there is really only one thing that matters for eternity. That is their relationship with Christ. We have taken them to church and had them involved in youth groups, Bible camps and the like since they were babies. And each of them has told me they have put their trust in Christ. But I haven’t always demonstrated what a Godly father looked like at home. And that concerns me..as it should. Now, as the two older ones prepare to do life much more independently, they will have to make choices about the role Christ plays in their lives by themselves. He will always be their Savior…but he may not always be their Lord…unless they choose to make him Lord. It takes a conscious effort and daily prioritizing to keep Christ on the throne of our lives…running things. It can be hard work…it takes a lot of discipline. But it’s the only way to have true joy and happiness. If I have parenting regrets…here is a big one. We as parents can’t be Christ-like enough at home.

We’re making memories around the dinner table. I hope the kids remember them…I know I will. God uses the dinner table as a neat picture to describe heaven and our eternal home. For me, the lyrics of the song below say it well. Our precious Lord is waiting for each of us…no matter where we are right now.

There’s always a place at the table

He’d gotten used to living
On the outside looking in
Lonely was his only constant friend.
So when the invitation came
That clearly bore his name
He hardly could believe the words he read.
There is always a place at the table
There’s a feast that’s now waiting all your own
Your place is set each time the family gathers
It will never be the same til you’re home.
She’d made so many choices
That had torn her life apart
And hurt the very ones she loved the most.
She didn’t even know where someone could begin
Until she got this message from the host.
There is always a place at the table
There’s a feast that’s now waiting all your own
Your place is set each time the family gathers
It will never be the same til you’re home.
Come home, come home.
My child, come home.
There is always a place at the table
There’s a feast that’s now waiting all your own
Your place is set each time the family gathers
It will never be the same
It will never be the same
It will never be the same til you are home.

 

 

Let me explain….! Vol 27

165288_1689748758017_7907800_nIt’s rare that you can fix a misunderstanding. It can happen…but it’s rare. I know. I have tried. It doesn’t matter what the misunderstanding is or is about. Facts are ignored. It all becomes an emotional event…with the potential to escalate disproportionately to the misunderstanding itself.

With every effort to explain why you said what you said, or explain what you did all by itself…you dig another shovel deeper of “oh sure…” or… “you knew exactly what you were doing” or “that’s what I expected of you” Sheesh!

It’s hard to get a sincere “at bat” to explain or clarify your words or actions without getting “beaned.” But that is the nature of a misunderstanding.

It’s not what you say…it’s what they hear. Likewise, it’s not what you do but how it’s perceived that matters. Sometimes misunderstandings are simply unavoidable. But there is a pro-active methodology you can employ that might help avoid future misunderstandings:

1) Don’t just “hear” …actively “listen”. You have to engage. Ask clarifying questions…be sure you understand what was said. Don’t fall into the “yes dear” syndrome.

2) Don’t jump to conclusions. Before you determine how you’re going to react…get the facts. We all have off days. And we all do dumb things from time to time.

3) Listen with your heart…not just your ears. Was there some reason that caused the conversation or event. Try to understand the “why” of it.

4) If you are hurt or upset…don’t respond right away. Take some time. Then respond thoughtfully and in love.

5) Just forget about it…let it go. Sometimes the hardest thing to do…but often the wisest.

Even after all this, the misunderstanding may still stand…because misunderstandings are difficult to fix….but don’t let it be because of you. Just as Christ sacrificially reconciled us to himself…do the same for others. Even though “He was not willing that any should perish”….some will.

Romans 12:18 The apostle Paul says…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

 

He Gave Gifts! Vol 26

Christmas Present Wrapped in Gold and Silver 2000Do you know what your spiritual gift or gifts are?

You really should. The Bible speaks quite a bit about these gifts in I Corinthians. It gives instruction about when we get them… and how they should be used.

I know what my spiritual gift is. Like many of you may have done, I took a bunch of “spiritual gift” tests to try to find out. Some of the tests were goofy and confusing, but gradually I narrowed in on just how God had gifted me…not my natural talents…but His gifts. Even though the tests I took were helpful, the real “tell” for me was the feedback I got from other believers as they saw the gift in action as we worked together in ministry.

I  think that is the best way spiritual gifts are discovered.

I have heard many believers say that they don’t have any gifts. God must have forgotten them…or maybe they were standing behind the door when the spiritual gifts were handed out. Not true! At the moment we place our faith and trust in Christ to save us from our sins, and the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in our hearts…(our spiritual birthday if you will,).. the Bible says he gives us gift(s) right then. What a privilege! What a responsibility!

These gifts are to be used to unify and build up the body of Christ…his church. So it’s important that you know what your gift is… and more importantly…that you use it.

Still struggling with this concept? Uncomfortable asking another believer what they see in your life? Here’s an online test so at least you can get started thinking more seriously about this.  http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/ There are many more tests like these…but this one seems to be pretty good. I would pray that God would give you wisdom to discern exactly what his gift to you is and how best to use it.

There is a difference between growing old and growing up. One is simply a factor of time…the other of will and purpose. Growing up into Christ implies maturing. Not only knowing what is right (Study to show yourselves approved unto God, rightly applying the word of truth) but doing it as well.

Make a commitment to God and to yourself to understand what your spiritual gift is and then use it. Be a good steward of both the gifts and talents God has given.

See how God will bless you and grow you into a worthy servant for his honor and glory…and your joy!

I Corinthians 12

 

A time for contentment…Vol 25

watchI like watches. I always have. I really like guitars and basses too, but I have sold all my instruments to fund the kids endeavors while I build my life insurance business…so watches (and the motorcycle…) remain my vice(s).

One of the first things I look at when I’m meeting someone in a business or casual encounter is their watch. It tells me a lot about the person (at least I like to think it does…) When I recognize an expensive watch I visualize a successful businessperson with a high-end house, lots of disposable income, trophy family and the like. None of which may be true. On the other hand when I see a less expensive or “cheap” watch…I think this person just needs to know what time it is…they’ve missed the opportunity to communicate all the other stuff. None of which may be true either. Of course if the person is not wearing a watch at all I would just be aghast…it’s part of the uniform after all…

In my book, watches are the only allowable jewelry for men (with the exception of wedding rings). I apologize to those men who wear necklaces, rings, bracelets and earings…God just hasn’t convicted you about them yet 🙂 The fact is no other jewelry appeals to me except watches. I don’t want to poke holes in my body, I don’t want my neck to turn green, and I don’t want my wrist to get caught in a paper shredder or the like. So it’s watches or nothing for me.

I have a few watches that I’ve collected over the years. Most of them are nice but relatively inexpensive, but I do have one or two that have a little value. Many years ago I owned a Rolex for about 3 days but felt like I was showing off and sold it. Although secretly I had always wanted a Rolex. I lived in Dallas for a number of year and there It was a symbol of success. It told the world that the wearer had good taste and the ability to afford it. It was like “old money” if you know what I mean. It carried a certain prestige.

But for me…it was just puffery. There was no substance behind the nice watch. No old money, no new money…it more like “no money.” I was paycheck to paycheck at best. I just wanted to be looked at as successful even though the only evidence of that was what I happened to be wearing on my wrist. My friends knew (and probably laughed at) the real me and this wannabe mentality.

I am being convicted daily to be a man of God first. To put his will before mine. To “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” To live a life of authenticity instead of a facade of wealth and influence. Proverbs says a lot about character. “to have a good name is better than great riches” (Proverbs 22:1) I know all that…and so do you. But why do we still want this stuff. What is this hole in our lives that begs to be filled with _________? We will work and sacrifice to get a new watch or car or do-dad…but we won’t crack open our Bibles. Something needs to change.

If we really want God first and act on that desire…that guarantees a battle with self. Not just a skirmish…a full scale, head-on assault of self. Because when you truly desire to put God first, everything else drops away…and if you try to catch the stuff as it’s falling away…you aren’t trying hard enough to put God first. (Looking at the watch on my wrist as I write…)

You might not believe it now…but God IS enough. Most of us never  have that concept tested in our lives because God is such a good father, giving good gifts to his kids and providing so much that is so undeserved. To get to a place where we really understand that God is enough two things must happen:

1) We must decide to allow God to be enough and let go of the idols in our life

2) God will make the decision for us and allow trials and circumstances that take away everything that satisfies and/or anchors us until all we have left is Him.

Both paths are difficult. Oh yea…I forgot one important part.

I should have said we must be willing to let the stuff go. ( I can hear pucker factor working in all the rich young rulers out there as I write :)) That doesn’t mean that God is going to make us shed everything in our lives so that He is first. He just insists that we put him first…and be willing to let everything else go. That means we have to examine our lives. We have to know ourselves.

I pray that we can see the blessings that come our way when we voluntarily put Christ first. Let’s see…. there is Peace, Joy, Love, Satisfaction, Contentment, Blessing… anything else is pure gravy.

OK…how are you doing? Me? Not so good. I have a lot of work to do!

Anybody want to buy a watch?

10 Memorable verses about contentment

1 Timothy 6:6-7 #1 Memorable Bible Verse About Contentment- Godliness plus contentment equals gain

But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.

Luke 3:14– #2 Memorable Scripture Verse about Being Content- Content with your Wages

And some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”

Proverbs 14:30– #3 Memorable Contentment Bible Verse

A tranquil heart is life to the body, But passion is rottenness to the bones.

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11– #4 Bible Verses on Contentment

And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

Luke 12:15 #5 Memorable Bible Verse About Contentment- Beware of Greed

And He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

Job 36:11 ( KJV)– #6 Bible Verses on Being Content- Obedience

If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.

More Bible Verses on Obedience

Joshua 1:9– #7 Memorable Bible Verse on Contentment- God is with you!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Hebrews 13:5– #8 Memorable Bible Verse About Contentment- Be content with what you have

Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”

Philippians 4:11-12– #9 Memorable Bible Verses on Contentment- In every Circumstance

Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

Philippians 2:14– #10 Memorable Bible Verses About Contentment- Do not grumble and complain

  Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

Love while you can…. Vol 24

tatooI lived in Texas for about 8 years back in the 80’s. During that time, I would come home to visit occasionally.  It was easier, and most times cheaper to fly into Rochester so I would often go to church with my brother and his family. It was there I met this crazy pastor dude. We hit it off immediately. When he found out I could sing a little, he’d have me share a song and a couple of thoughts when i was in town.

When I moved to Rochester in 1988 I knew exactly where my church home was going to be. My brother and I attended this same church and served under the same pastor for 20 plus years. My pastor became one of my best friends in that time. We ministered together, prayed together, did a lot of life with each other…I was even married in his living room after we escaped my brother’s 33rd birthday party now 22 years ago. He was a man of God and he truly loved people. He loved me, and I him.

The last time I saw him was at his 60th birthday party, three years ago. I was not attending church there at the time and the circumstances of my leaving had been awkward and hurtful. We hadn’t spoken much in that time, but when he saw me in the audience that night he called me up on the platform and gave me a big hug…and told me that he loved me. In that moment all my hurt and anxiety and bitterness were gone and my friend was back. I’m still a big girl about that kind of stuff and tear up thinking about how that simple act made me feel. I was restored… forgiven.

Almost two years ago now this pastor, my friend, had an episode that left him without his memory. The doctors think it had something to do with all the stress he was under. They don’t really know what happened but his brain just did a reboot. Right after the event he didn’t remember much of anything or anyone except his wife and kids. The church scrambled to get someone to preach and lead while everyone waited to see what the outcome would be.

As it turned out, he could no longer pastor and retired. There was a long time where he didn’t remember much. And gradually things started returning, but not a lot. After a while he quietly went back to some services at church with his wife. But as people he had known and loved for years came up to him… he didn’t remember them…his wife would patiently tell him who they were and how he had known them. It was very sad and It was incredibly hard on him…but God continued to work. These days I hear that his current memory works incredibly well and that he is back at church every Sunday and has even preached…but his long term memory is still not totally back.

I have kept in touch with his family and friends since the event. But haven’t wanted to see him for fear he wouldn’t remember me.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with his son about some motorcycle riding and asked about his dad. He said that dad was almost 95% back. I asked if it would be OK to call him and his son said he’d love to hear from me…. So I was thrilled to be dialing my friend’s number late yesterday. His wife answered and handed him the phone…and I said something jokingly that normally would have made him laugh or evoked some snarky comment…but there was silence. He handed the phone back to his wife confused…and I had to explain to her that I was just joking…I was sure he would recognize me. But he didn’t…

When she handed the phone back…the rest of the conversation was extremely awkward…and a bit surreal  There was no common point of reference. It was as if I had never been a part of his life. As if I had never existed.

I had feared this. I hadn’t made an attempt to see him in the past year or so because I told myself that I wanted to remember the forgiveness and restoration… and not to look into the face of a friend and not be recognized. But here I was. He didn’t know me at all.  I’m not sure it was any less painful over the phone than in person. But I am even more grateful that the last time I saw him  I had the chance to forgive and be forgiven. It was a gift from God.

Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to actually go and see him face to face…I don’t right now. I’m not sure I could bear it.

Is there a lesson here?  You bet. Life is short and uncertain. Things we think will never change…change overnight…sometimes into things we don’t even recognize. It can feel cruel and it’s often painful.

Is there a broken relationship in your life? A wayward child? Is there bitterness between family members? Has a friend wounded you or you them?

Love while you can…don’t let the sun go down on your anger

Love while you can…whatever was said or done can be forgiven…so forgive and accept forgiveness.

Love while you can…we are like the grass of the field…here today then… gone.

Don’t miss a chance to love. Don’t miss a chance to forgive.

Jesus didn’t…he loved and forgave spontaneously…freely.

Go and do likewise 🙂

Mark 11:25,26 –  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.