Saturday, June 18, 2011

In Honor of my Dad on Father's Day

Father's Day is upon us. It has been so sweet to see every one's pictures on Face Book of their Dads. (Katie Reynolds and her dad Jim, those pictures are priceless!) I wanted to find some old ones of me and my dad, but unfortunately couldn't. I know they are packed away somewhere, just could get to them. These are some more recent pictures, I thought I would share.

I love this picture. He loved playing golf, especially with his Love.

Holding little Iva Mae

Grandpa and Liam

holding Ben for the first time.

Today has felt like a fresh cut. Bleeding all over again. It seams this is the way grief works, a cut and a little healing, another cut and some more healing. I am grateful for the healing, but the cuts still hurt so bad. I still am a bit in disbelief that my Dad is gone.
Since my Dad got sick, almost 2 years ago now, I have had such a difficult time with my memory. Its as if that cancer sucked my memories away with his health.

There are nights that I lay in bed trying so hard to see a clear picture of my dad in my head. I can see him post sick, but pre... is very hard to see. I look at pictures and feel a small sense of shock at how much I love that face of his, and how hard it is to remember it, though i know it so well. I am so afraid that his sick state has taken over his healthy in my mind. I can vaguely remember things that my family talks about, 'oh, yeah...I remember that!' but on my own, everything is so fuzzy.

I have had many dreams of him, but he is almost always sick. I wake so sad to have seen him that way again. I have been asking God to please give me a good dream of him. I am so grateful that God answered that prayer a couple months ago.

I was in a room with lots of people standing around talking, I looked up across the room and saw Dad standing there, filled with so much joy I began to walk over to him, but Joe Smith popped in and was trying to say hi to him as well, my dad just smiled at Joe, with that bright blue eyed smile and, "Hold on, I gotta hug my girl." He wrapped his arms around me, and that was it.

It makes me cry every time I think of it. What a sweet moment to have, even if in my dreams.
Any way, I know this is getting long, but I thought this may be a good time to post the eulogy that I gave at his funeral. I had a number of people tell me that they would love to read a copy of it, so here it is. (no pressure to read, its long! :)

I remember when I was first able to really read for myself, I saw a sign at a local cafe that said “the early bird catches the worm” when I asked my dad what it meant and he told me “that’s what we’ll be doing next week. We will be the early birds.” So sure enough, the next week, we woke up very early. It was opening day of hunting season. Filled with excitement, we stopped at gartlets corner in the pitch black and freezing cold and walked in to enjoy a hot breakfast. I remember my dad letting me dip my donut in his coffee.

Dad, matt, and I traveled on to his friend’s property, making the long trek in the cold, snowy morning. It was so peaceful and beautiful watching the sunrise against the woods and the snowy. I can still feel the anticipation I had, eager to see what was coming next.

But very quickly the anticipation wore off because of the bitter cold, and the fact that I couldn't stay still for very long.

Even though he had prepared me for it, and I promised him that I could do it, after a couple of hours I starting crying because it was just too cold. He didn’t get mad though, he just gently told me it was OK and walked me all the way back to his friends house, whose land we were hunting on.

This became a yearly tradition. Me promising my dad I could do it this time, and then crying only a couple hours in. But this is a perfect picture of how my dad was with us. He really wanted to include us in the things that he loved, and was willing to sacrifice something precious to him, like the chance to hunt or fish alone, which he loved, in order to have us be a part of it. Because of that, I have many wonderful memories of being in the woods or on the lake with him.

Another memory of my dad is the time I was really young, I think around 4, and I had split my chin open and had gotten stitches. A few days later, in the middle of the night, they split open and started bleeding really badly. My parents had to call our family doctor to meet him at his practice. It was a cold night, I remember being in my thermal pajamas, my dad scooped me up out of the car, just like a little baby, and carried me in to the doctor’s office. I remember feeling so anxious and afraid of what was going to happen, but also feeling so safe and secure in my dad’s arms. He was a strong man and I always felt safe and protected.

There are many other memories that I could share, but instead I wanted to tell you about his last days, and one of the last conversations I had with him.

As many of you know, my dad loved nature. About a month ago, I was reading and came across a passage in “The Weight of Glory” by C S Lewis that I wanted to share with him, and I was able to the next day.

And although my dad’s interaction with me was limited at that point, we were able to have a simple conversation that filled my heart with hope.

In it, Lewis says that our love of nature, and awe of its beauty is God given, and talks about how this world is a representation of a more beautiful, more real place, a place where we don’t have to stop at just seeing beauty, but will actually become a part of it.

He says:

“We do not want to merely see beauty, we want something else which can hardly be put into words: to be united with the beauty we see. To pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it... At the present, we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.”

Lewis looks to that day when we are made perfect, and are perfect in our obedience, just as nature is. Then we will “put on its glory, or rather, that greater glory of which nature is only the first sketch.”

He goes on to say: “When all the suns and nebulae have passed away, each one of you will still be alive. Nature is only the image, the symbol, but it is the symbol scripture invites us to use. We are summoned to pass in through nature beyond her, into that splendor which she fully reflects. And in there, in beyond nature, we shall eat of the tree of life”

After reading this to my dad, he spoke of his excitement to experience this. We talked about the beauty that he saw in Alaska and how, as beautiful as it is, it is still only the “first sketch” that the landscape of heaven that he would pass into when be even more vibrant and real.

It gave my heart much peace to know that he was excited to go there.

First Peter says "According to His great Mercy, He has caused us to be born again into a living hope, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you. "

I am grateful to the Lord for his great mercy. Sickness and disease are wrong. Cancer is wrong. We have a desire to see things these things fixed. I have learned that it isn't up to me. I don't need to put my hope in something, like the cancer being healed. Christ is my hope. I have it, my dad had it. Christ came to fix this broken world and I believe in that. I know that Heaven will be our home, an unbroken and safe place. A place where my dad is now, fixed and cancer free, rejoicing with his savior. I am continuously comforted by this. 1 Peter goes on to say, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your soul."

My dad has received his inheritance.

He is on the right side of the door.

Obtaining the outcome of his faith.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adopted for Life

Two things that have been on my mind a lot lately: Adoption and Heaven.

I began reading this book, Adopted for Life, by Russell Moore, and wanted to share this section that resonated with me. This is only a small excerpt, if you get the chance, I HIGHLY recommend reading it. It is packed rich. Not even if you get the chance, make the chance!

It’s a bit lengthy, but please read… for reference, Russell Moore and his wife adopted 2 little boys, only 3 months apart from a rural Russian Orphanage.

The Abba cry just might be the most easily misunderstood and misinterpreted aspects of the biblical revelation of our adoption (our adoption by God, through Christ). How many of us have heard Abba described as an infant cooing out the words, “Da-Da” or “Pa-Pa”? This cry though in context of the Scriptures, is not an infantile cooing. The Abba cry is a scream. It’s at he sound of a child screaming, ”Daddy!” as his face is being ripped by a rabid bulldog. It’s a primal scream.

The bible tells us, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death…(heb5:7) Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane isn’t placidly staring…He is screaming to his father for deliverance, to the point that the veins in his temples burst into drops of blood (Luke 22:39-44). That’s the Abba cry. It’s the scream of the crucified.

Of all the disturbing aspects of the orphanage in which we found our boys, one stands out above all others in its horror. It was quiet. The place was filled with an eerie silence, quieter than the Library of Congress, despite the fact that there were cribs full of babies in every room. If you listened intently enough, you could hear the sound of gently rocking-as babies rocked themselves back and forth in their beds. They didn’t cry because no one responded to their cries. So they stopped. That’s a dehumanizing horror.

The first moment that I knew the boys had received us, is some strange and preliminary way, was the moment we walked out of the room for the last time on that first trip. When little Maxim, now Benjamin, fell back in his crib and cried-the first time I ever heard him do it-it was because, for whatever reason, he seamed to think he’d been heard and, for whatever reason, he no longer liked the prospect of being alone in the dark.

That is where the Spirit is leading us in Christ. The Spirit doesn’t lead us to be toothy, giddy caricature of a “spirit-filled” Christian. The Spirit leads us to see we are in enemy-occupied territory, and he teaches us to rage against the machine…to cry out with the rest of the universe, “O, God deliver us from this, this is not how it’s supposed to be!”

It is through this kind of praying that we know we have “received the spirit of adoption and sons” (rom. 8:15). Through this, “the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs” (Rom.8:16-17)…

The Abba cry is a groan…”the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (rom. 8:22). It is hard for us to hear the tenor and terror in that verse, living with the kinds of medical technology we have all around us…

The whole universe, Paul says, is screaming out like that- “longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom8.19) Yes, the creation ‘waits’ patiently, but it’s a patience that screams along the way.

But its not just the creation screaming, Paul writes that “we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (rom8:23). ..

The Bible speaks, paradoxically, of our adoption in Christ as a past event but also as a future one. “we wait eagerly for adoption as sons,” Paul writes, and he tells us what that looks like: “the redemption of our bodies”. We legally belong to our father. But as long as our bodies are dying, as long as the universe is heaving in pain around us, it sure looks like we are orphans still. We know that we’re children by faith, not by sight.

I want to see that orphanage one more time. When the boys are older, maybe twelve or fourteen, I plan to make the trip again, with them. I want them to see, to feel where they came form…I’m sure their eyes will widen as we walk up those creaking steps into that horror movie-looking front door. They’ll probably go limp inside, just like I did, when they see all those abandoned toddlers peering out from the corners of the doors inside…I am not sure what they will think of the orphanage. But I’m quite sure they won’t call it home.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Christmas Morning

The Set up Christmas morning! This is what the Boys woke up to! They are still a bit young to understand what was going on, but they warmed up to it quick!

Benner was afraid of the Rocking Horses! So he hung out inside the tent where it was safe!

Uncle Mike, trying to convince Ben that the Horses really are fun.

Liam didn't need any convincing, he loved it!

Uncle Paul and Mae, opening clothes from Mamo and Granddaddy.

Christmas Eve

For as long as I can remember, my family has done our big Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve. We keep the tradition every year. It was a bitter sweet event. Our first Christmas with out my Dad. It made my heart ache for him. We didn't get to see him be 'Santa' and pass out the presents, or hear the Christmas story by his voice. No tacky jokes, like, 'A BOX! Its just what I wanted!' despite missing him, we had a good Christmas. I am so grateful for my family, for the tie that we have and that we are all here to be together.

We got my mom a pearl ring with diamonds, pearl is Ryan's birth stone as well as the month that my parents got married, diamond is my Dads birth stone.

The boys got guitars, other wise known as 'ta-tar!!' Ben was so excited that he went to bed with it and i don't think let go of it for about a week! Its still his favorite toy, He's pretty cute jamming out with it. He's learning to play and sing and dance at the same time!

too busy on the phone to pay attention to his new clothes!

My mom got Sean a Mac book Pro!!! He was shocked!!! Those of you who know Sean, know that this is the perfect gift!

All the cousins! Ben, Trevor, Cai, Liam, Anderson, Mae, and Ryan!

Ben and Iva Mae checking out the presents!

Sweetie pie, grandma got her a tu-tu!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mr. Independent

This boy! If Ben thinks of something that he would like. He helps himself! (Very unlike his brother, who I am sure would have stood at the table screaming until someone figured out that he wanted an apple!) We didn't even notice he was gone until I walked into the kitchen to find him munching away! I love his little independent spirit! Happy that he craves apples and bananas and not chocolate or paint thinner or something crazy!

Earlier today, Ben found a wide strip of cardbaord and sat down to figure something out about it. I watched him inspect it closely, then he folded it in half. Stared at it and then exclaimed, "OH!!" and 'opened' it up and placed it on his ear and said, "hello!" He continued to do this most of the morning! He made him self a flip phone!

I love my boys so much and I especially love how different they are! 2 very cute, very different little goobers, for the price of one! Grateful God gave us twins!