Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)

That was nearly twenty years ago; I can still feel the sting of the pain even now…Goodness I miss my dad…

*This is part 3 of a 3 part series- links to parts 1 and 2 are located at the bottom of this post

Growing up I took for granted the idea of family time and commitment. We had many fun times, but I failed to place much value on our years together while they were occurring.

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Winter of 1999-a few months after my dad’s motorcycle accident

I’ve managed to mentally revisit and collect the moments we spent together and I hold on to those precious memories now.

I can also identify our number one struggle as well. We believed in God, but we were far from a relationship with Jesus, therefore our family-dynamic suffered in following Christian morals, which led to lenient parenting. Often times I was absent—drinking and partying with friends. House rules and expectations were shallow for me; late nights and a selfish mentality were abundant. Mistakes and poor choices were high as I ran wild.

It wasn’t until I was married with three young children and in my mid-twenties that I recognized the hurt and brokenness in me. I thought I could fix it on my own and I tried for the next five years.

I watched as my mother, meanwhile, had found healing over my father’s death by seeking Christ. I remember relying heavily on her for wisdom during that trying period and she pointed me to Jesus every time.

And then one day I finally submitted… Continue reading “Part 3: Remembering My Dad (lessons and spiritual growth)”

Part 1: Remembering My Dad (poetry)

*This is part 1 of a 3 part series- links to parts 2 and 3 are located at the bottom of this post

I must admit with all honesty, and with a guilty conscience, that poems are not always my favorite thing to read or write.

I sometimes think they sound a bit gushy or sappy. Maybe it’s because in my daily language I don’t use the kind of effusive talk which is typically involved with poetry.

However—I truly do appreciate and respect the effectiveness in expressing and communicating deep thoughts through a poem, thoughts that may not have been conveyed otherwise. It’s for that very reason, I take advantage of the power of poetic writing. The idea of  describing emotions in few words, in a simple yet meaningful way, is appealing to me, for sure. Regardless of how corny the words may sound at times, poems make for a great opportunity to share true passions, experiences, and feelings in a practical, heartfelt manner.

With the Father’s Day celebration among us, I took to honoring my dad (who passed away when I was seventeen) by writing a poem:

DAD

Hunting, fishing, camping, riding—
Things you loved to do;
Family and friends—
Loved being with you.

Thankful for the years together we spent, Blessed for how they went.

Home early you left to be with Jesus,
Some days I still search for reasons.

The Father of you and I—
Our Father in Heaven,
He knows our time here,
He knows when He’ll call us there.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

Those memories I have of you,
The Lord truly blessed.
Those memories I have of you,
Are no doubt some of my best.

Some days reflecting back on those years,
Leaves me in tears.

It’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

His ways aren’t for me to question,
But His words are for me to rest in.

Our Father in Heaven had a plan
When he made you my dad;
He brought me to you
to share as a daughter.

The Lord knew of our fun to be had.
He knew all our family would do.
He knew you’d love us like crazy too.

So it’s hard to understand,
Why He called you too soon—
But I have to trust what God had planned.

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Dad and I..I was maybe 4 years old here

As the years move on, I slip further away from memories of my dad. In this crazy, busy world I must intentionally reminisce of our times together or I risk altogether losing the memory of the sweet time we had together…

*Part 2 follows with my dad’s story and part 3 with the lessons I’ve learned as a result

More Grace

Mother’s Day has just passed and although I enjoyed my day, this past week has challenged me to consider that perhaps I expect too much from my kids.
It’s good to want to see my children make right choices, to want them to try harder in school, and to do well in life, and love Jesus like crazy. But sometimes my expectations reach beyond what really matters and other times I fail to adequately communicate what I expect and just assume they already know.

Within the past few weeks my oldest daughter has misplaced the new jacket her dad and I recently bought her, and I’ve been annoyed by this; not just a little annoyed either. I’ve managed to get my daughter annoyed now also with my constant nagging, “did you leave it at school?” I’ll ask her one day, and then the next day, “maybe it got left at church?!”…“how about in the vehicle?!”

More than likely at this point, my poor girl (mentally) eats, sleeps, and drinks this jacket because of all my harping.
Chalk up another “mom-fail.”
Can I make matters worse?…Yes!!! Because let me not forget to mention that I’m ridiculously frugal and the jacket was an Old Navy clearance and cost only $5.97. I know you’re reading this and probably thinking ‘then just go buy a new one’ and I would…maybe, but we live a few hours away from the store, so whining about it seems like the logical and mature adult-way to handle this situation…
Now if there wasn’t a lesson to be learned in this I wouldn’t waste my time writing about it of course….sooooo guess who recently lost their water bottle? (the water bottle they’re obsessed with—the one they take everywhere—the water bottle that if two fills of it are drank each day, her daily water-drinking goal is met…)
Me!!!!

Continue reading “More Grace”

Spring Cleaning: Out Satan!

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write due to a combination of super busy and miserably sick, and learning a new phone system!!!! (I’m still not even sure this will show correctly to my ‘email followers’; if you’re interested you may need to click into the link and read it from the blog’s website).

In the midst of all of the crazy, some really cool things have been happening…

I began guitar lessons a few weeks ago, something I have wanted to do for years now. I’m hoping one day I’ll hear my husband say, “good job honey!”…instead of, “it sounds like you’re strangling a cat.” He’s right though!! I’ll be strumming along nice and lovely…and then all of a sudden out of nowhere, “rrrreerrr”…not music to my ears or anyone else’s to say the least, but I have a fantastic guitar instructor and therefore I’m hopeful this will all get “harmonized” in due time.

Also I took a spiritual gifts test recently with the rest of my co-youth group leaders and discovered that my top strong points are exhortation (encouragement), serving, and hospitality. This has helped me know myself just a little more!

ENCOURAGEMENT seems fitting since I’ve referred to myself as my kids’ biggest cheerleader, including my husband’s. I’ve even poured that encouragement out on my classroom kids as I sub and my youth kids as I help lead them—kids and adults alike need rooted on!!

SERVING comes in as I get involved in mission trips, community service projects, and local outreach programs.

And HOSPITALITY has shown up as our family has held youth group events at our home, hosted the most amazing foreign exchange student, and entertained numerous guests between large birthday parties and dinner dates.

I have provided a link if anyone is interested in taking this spiritual gifts test: http://ebcrochester.org/misc/php/LifeWaySpiritualGiftsSurvey.php

**side note: there’s a huge difference between spiritual gifts and talents! In quick summary, God gives both; a talent can be possessed by anyone as the result of genetics and/or training, whereas a spiritual gift is the result of the Holy Spirit’s power at work in a believer. Romans 12:6-8, 1st Corinthians 12:4-11, Ephesians 4:11-13

Next, since garage sale season is among us, I browsed a few the other day. I was set out for mason jars to use for canning purposes and found NOT a single one; however, nearing the end of my search I came across what resembled more of a “garbage sale” than a garage sale and I spotted this little gem: Continue reading “Spring Cleaning: Out Satan!”

But He’s in Heaven Now…

20171203_083202He walked over to my “temporary” desk while I substitute taught and the words abruptly and nonchalantly spilled from his mouth, “my dad just recently died.”

Taken aback, I looked up from the top of my glasses and the pile of papers I’d been sorting to place a face to the small voice that had just offered me such matter-of-fact information. A young boy of about ten years old with light-colored hair, freckles, and a fair skin tone stood just feet away from me.

My mind quickly searched for words of comfort to give and with concern shown on my face the normal cliché consoling-phrase jumped its way out, “I’m really sorry.” …and I really meant it, but as I offered those overused words, my heart felt unsatisfied and desired to extend on the moment.

Continue reading “But He’s in Heaven Now…”

Sin City…More Than Just a Vegas Thing

Las Vegas has been referred to as “Sin City” for decades and some senseless man’s recent incongruity couldn’t more accurately fit the nickname, as bullets poured down on an innocent group of people who were expecting an evening of pleasure only to end up in a realistic nightmare.

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Instances such as this leave citizens wondering why…

Why is it that families can’t participate in movie outings, attend church or school, and other events without the lingering thought of safety issues?…

These are places that have been fabricated to fulfill the desire of happiness, fun, and necessity in the lives of children and adults alike, more importantly as ways to promote healthy family memories. Yet in the news it’s becoming the normal to hear of an event or location saturated with merciless sin as a result of one’s act of carelessness.

I don’t understand when these places became a monster’s playground. I don’t understand why some people are motivated by destruction and hurt.

What I do know is that evil exist this side of Heaven; it’s been in effect since Eve’s disobedient bite of fruit thousands of years ago in the Garden of Eden as she gave in to Satan’s evil lies (Genesis 3). Sin has been an ongoing disaster generation after generation and it will inevitably continue until Christ’s return to gather His followers.

However God has created each of us with minds that can choose― choose to follow Him or deny Him, choose to render positive influence and encouraging examples to the world, or choose to ignore or even contribute to the ugliness…and if I’m real with myself, often times I choose the latter of these.

God’s word tells us, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31)…meanwhile I’m so wrapped up in my own busy life that I’m neglecting to realize people who are desperately in need exist outside of the responsibility of my home and family, therefore I allow a void in one of God’s most important commandments that He’s given.

The distressing truth is that “Sin City” isn’t just a Vegas thing. It has penetrated every part of the world. It’s found in our neighborhoods and sometimes inside the doors of our residence. It shows up in the form of lying, killing, stealing, cheating, hatred, neglect and is by no means limited to these things.

I believe without Jesus’ words of hope pressed into our hearts and minds our world will only slip further away from God’s desire of love for one another.

I must admit I’ve been deeply convicted in the past few weeks between personal relationships and listening to my pastor’s messages each Sunday morning as he has been teaching a series on “Heaven and Hell”. I can’t help but notice the lack of care and concern for others that occurs in my own self…you see, sometimes “Sin City” is a little closer to home than I care to admit..sometimes it resides right in my very heart. Continue reading “Sin City…More Than Just a Vegas Thing”

The Three “F” words: Faith, Family, and Four-wheelers

Originally written and posted on 9/4/17, reposting on 9/4/18

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Psalm 127:3

“It was either a grasshopper or a mouse—just smacked me in the face and bounced off!”, I joked with my kids and they giggled and snickered behind me wildly.

We were on our annual camping trip, complete with four-wheelers, miles of sandy trails shaded within a thicket of pine trees, and of course marshmallows toasted over a camp fire in the evenings. My two youngest children rode securely behind me on our four-wheeler while my husband and oldest daughter trailed behind, each on their own ATV.

Just for the record, safety is a must…pony tails fly in the wind under tightly strapped riding helmets and boy hair shows sweaty evidence whenever the protective headgear is removed, chicken legs are always covered with blue jeans, and little toes are snug in a pair of boots or sneakers.

We’ve come to this particular state park a number of times now and it always proves to be a nice break from the routine of chores, work, and electronics back home. A wide array of colorful wildflowers dot the many hills of sand amongst thousands of acres of tall conifers; and Poison Ivy trail comes by its name naturally. In a playful manner sunsets seem magical, although I know it’s really God’s hand at a work of art. Finding time for relaxation, writing, and Bible reading always seems to occur effortlessly for me when visiting this home away from home.6EC270E2-8CDC-457C-866F-7701FD8595AF

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Labor Day weekend 2017

Some of our most favorable memories as a family can be traced back to four-wheeler tracks left on a sandy, winding trail at this campground…

I recall one time when we pulled along side a sand-covered path to enjoy a picnic. While I made sandwiches the kids picked up large pieces of tree bark and began using them as shields as they pretended to play a game of what must have been ‘Knights in Shining Armor.’ My son chose what he thought would make the best shield of all, but upon examining it further we all laughed hysterically when we realized he was actually holding a hardened “cow-pie”.

…Fast-forward a few years to the bittersweet outting I’m referring to as I write (Labor Day weekend 2017)— I felt a strong urgency to make every endeavor of having a good time, hence the reason for my silly comment to my bubbly passengers.

To be honest, at times I get stuck in discouragement realizing that my kids are growing up and this was one of those instances where I was struggling with those depressing thoughts. The problem is I focus too much on time quickly passing by, rather than soaking-in the moments of precious memories with these kids. Inevitably though, the years of camping and four-wheeler riding in the sand hills along with every day fun spent together as a family will cease as they mature and go out to experience life on their own and frankly this thought doesn’t settle well with me!

Realistically speaking, when I find myself tormented by these feelings I realize it’s Satan trying to swoop in and steal the joy I experience with the family God has blessed me with. To counteract this false logic Satan longs to impress on me, I have to remind myself that God’s desire for me is to find peace through Him (Romans 15:13).

These years on earth are temporary and pass quickly; I want to do everything possible to live in a way where I bring glory to God by what I say, do, and think (1 Corinthians 10:31). True lasting joy comes when I place my faith in the Lord daily and seek Him wholeheartedly. If I allow Satan to intervene without considering God’s truth I’m left standing at the risk of not enjoying the life God has graciously given me.

Even though my kids are growing up at a rapid rate I need to appreciate every minute I have with them without allowing Satan to interrupt. Life experiences and mine and my husband’s Godly influence will help mold these children. Through prayer, God’s word, and His grace-filled love I am reminded that He has chosen us as their parents.

Maintaining a positive perspective and watching my son and daughters grow in the Lord and love Him on their own will make every moment I spend with them worth it as I focus my attention to them rather than a swirling clock-hand. And if it includes shouting silly comments from the seat of a four-wheeler to keep this optimistic attitude then I’m in. I want my children, and my husband and I to be able to reflect back on these years we’ve spent together as welcoming ‘hill climbs’ in our growing faith.

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**UPDATE..Below are some pictures from our most recent camping experience, Labor Day weekend 2018… amazing how God works, I was able to fully enjoy my time this particular outting without dwelling on how quickly the time passes;) CEE759C3-31CA-47D6-B371-A57C140D102274426E4E-0E68-4964-9E85-E14D5025E7852BE51DAF-93D9-4AA0-B8C4-39FFE1B30E6EF638DB2D-7C1D-47CB-BCF4-C7AC1A9E774E

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