Monthly Archives: June 2014

Celebrating the Spirit

I have always struggled with the notion of predestination. I believe to strongly in free will. Recently, I got into a discussion about this with good friends. We talked about how we see God intervening in our lives, about how we understand His intervention or guidance in our lives.
I believe there are many “right” paths to take. I believe God continually creates opportunity for us to experience the future He has dreamed of for us. We just have to be open to the nudging.
Which takes me to a celebration of sorts. A lesson for me in listening to the still small voice {or sometimes screaming alarm} that I believe to be God’s leading.
A little over a year ago, last spring, I started thinking about a gap I felt in my life. A missing link or hole of sorts. I hadn’t done a Bible study for MANY years. When the kids were young I did 3 or 4 Disciple Bible Studies. They were so powerful for me and made a huge impact on my spiritual life. Then I went to work full time and the Monday morning study didn’t fit in my schedule anymore. And the kids started getting involved in lots of activities quickly filling my weekend. The timing was just not right.
Fast forward about 8 years and I found myself with a hole that I knew needed filling.
At the same time, I found myself longing for more connections with Moms in my life stage – with teenagers and kids with one foot out the door. It occurred to me that many of my relationships to this point centered around the life of my kids. And though there were lots of great women I had made this journey with, we were connected because of our kids or their activities. I realized what I was craving is women I could connect with because we picked each other! Women I would remain close to whether our kids hang out or not, whether we are on the booster board together or not.
I needed connection.
Connection to other women and reconnection to my faith.
And I had a compressed work week at my job so my Fridays were free – me time!
What to do…
I sat with it for a long time, mulling ideas in my head. I looked at options out there. What I felt God leading me to do was start a Bible study in my home. It seemed to be the perfect solution to using the beautiful space I had, creating real connection with others and deepening my faith. But that was a risky idea. What if no one wanted to come? What if their lives are already so full, they have no need for a connection like I do? What if everyone else has all the close relationships they want? What if they already have a safe, supportive place to study God’s word? It sounds funny for me to say out loud now, but those were real fears of mine. I was taking a risk. Risking being rejected when what I needed was connection. Risking being the only kid raising their hand and saying, “I need help.” It was scary.
But I felt like this is what I was supposed to do. So I started making a list. I checked it way more than twice. I thought about women I had met who I wanted to get to know better. About women I thought might be open to a Bible study. About those I thought could be available on a Friday morning. There were some on the list I knew really well, some I had known for years and some I had only had very short superficial conversations with at a game or meeting. I didn’t know if any of them knew each other, but that didn’t matter.
After carefully wording a letter, I emailed about 20 women inviting them to participate. I was careful to let them know, if this wasn’t their thing, I wouldn’t be offended. And then I waited.
There were plenty of no responses. Lots of reasons it just wouldn’t fit or wasn’t the right timing. But, there were a handful of yes responses too. You could say the rest is history. But the rest is the real heart of the story.
I am so blessed {and yes, I do mean God looked on me and gave me a gift} by these women. I can’t imagine getting through the loss of my father without them. I don’t know how I would have gotten through May with Dad’s illness, Middle Son’s graduation and Dad’s funeral. They cleaned my house! Who does that?! They brought us meals and all those things we do to help each other. But more importantly, they have prayed with me, wiped my tears, understood the struggles of my heart, held me close when I didn’t know if I could get through and continue to pray me through it all. That is really powerful stuff!
And now, a year after that first anxious Friday, I see why God put it on my heart to start a summer study. God knew I was going to need something special, something more than what I had, to get through the things to come.
Not predestination, but working on my heart to prepare me in the way I needed.

PS. I debated about writing this for fear of hurting someone in my real world. There is risk- why didn’t she invite me? I would have come. I am sorry if I left you out, sorry if you are searching and not finding. My hope is that this post inspires others to listen to God’s calling, to reach out and ask for what you need. God will help clear the path for you!

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Memories of Dad

Thinking of Dad so much. Here are the words I shared at his funeral. Thankful I did it and thankful I captured my thoughts at the time. Writing is so cathartic for me.

The last time I stood here with my dad was 23 years ago tomorrow when he walked me down this aisle to give me away as I married my husband Dan. I find comfort in saying goodbye to Dad in this place that holds so many good memories for all of us.
I’ve always cringed at eulogies or speakers who get up at a funeral and wax poetic about their perfect loved one. It always leaves me wondering about their weird habits or strange quirks. I promised myself that given the opportunity, I would tell the truth. Just like dad. He didn’t really sugar coat things. You always knew where you stood with Dad.
So here it is.
I have an amazing Dad. But he was a unique guy.
He has longer finger nails than any woman I know. I didn’t realize how odd it was until friends started asking. It always made me chuckle a bit when someone would say, “um…your dad has really long finger nails…”. Yup, he does. And wouldn’t you know it, I did not inherit them!
Dad liked a lot of strange foods. Who remembers being offered pickled herring? Nasty stuff and he loved it. And my sweet, generous mom stifled her gag reflex many times to make him beef or chicken liver.
I was a teenager before I found out not everyone had orange juice with their pizza. But we did. And when we have mom’s amazing cinnamon rolls, dad dunks them in his orange juice. And so does Scott.
But I think the strangest might be the pickled beef heart. According to my unofficial research, we may be the only family in the world that ate it!
Dad also came up with some crazy inventions. Like the side by side bicycle so a blind person could ride a bike. I know some of you looked at his inventions and thought, what the heck?
But what I saw in those was creativity and optimism and possibilities and potential. That’s what my dad was really about. Seeing a problem and immediately dreaming up a solution. Working through all the scenarios in his head and developing a way to make something work.
He had hope. He believed in potential and had the ability to imagine impossible things, especially when it comes to designing. Like a ramp for the scooter, a 3 stall garage or a theater in the church. He always had an idea in the hopper. And he believed in his ability to make it happen.
Anyone who knew Dad knew he had a generous spirit. Dad was a helper. From tools to trailers – dad would loan whatever he had to someone in need. And he was generous with his skills, talents and expertise as well. Just looking around the church you can see the physical impact he left on this congregation.
I will miss picking up the phone to describe the sound the car is making and get his thoughts on what might be wrong. I will miss being able to call him when I’m lost and have him point me home. But I am at peace knowing his body is now whole. And I believe he is telling a story to my uncles as they all sit around a workshop or piece of machinery.
Dad loved my mom fiercely. From the days when he pursued her as a teenager through the really lean times and the good times. He loved her until the end, always taking care of her.
I see my dad in each of my brothers. In Doug’s quiet contemplation with the wheels always turning, in Phil’s take care of business take-charge attitude that comes when something just has to get done and in Scott’s honoring of our past, respect for where we have come from and how we got to where we are.
Today, I can’t help but think what an amazing witness my dad gave to everyone he met. Micah 6:8 says …And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Well done Dad.
A life well lived.

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Anything But Content

I feel like my heart is raw. Like a wound that keeps getting torn open, again and again. There is no time to heal. There is no balm for my soul.
It is as though I’m running on a sandy beach, feet sinking deep into the warm sand making each step a little harder than the last. I know I need to keep going, but it’s so difficult.

I want to stop the world, stop all the change in my life, to regroup, to get my bearings again. I want to mourn and wallow, and feel sorry for myself. I want to cry until there are no more tears. And some days I do. But the next day they return, flowing strong and steady.

I’m going through the motions, but feel like my world is spinning out of control on the inside. Like the merry-go-round that I used to ride as a kid. The one that terrified me and made me feel ill. The one that spun and spun and left me puking in the grass.

I’m trying to be present. To be focused on the things that are big in my kids lives. The changes and challenges they face. I’m trying to be the mom they need me to be. But it’s so very hard.

I don’t want to take care of anyone else right now. I don’t want to problem solve with them or be their shoulder to cry on. I want my Dad back. I want to remember him, to think about the stories he told, to hear his voice again. I want him to not be gone. And I’m having a hard time focusing on anything else.

I guess I’m just shocked at how hard it is. I didn’t know it would be like this.

It has only been a few weeks. But life has gone on at breakneck speed. Work keeps happening, the house needs to be cleaned, the bills need to be paid the pictures need editing. There are college orientations and teenage transitions and all kinds of life still happening.

It all just keeps going. And I try to hide the tears when they come at work. I try to focus on my health and Bible study. I try to move forward. And yet I just want to cry.

A lot.

I find myself thinking of all the people who have gone through this before me. The people who seemed to keep going like their world hadn’t fallen apart when I know it had. They kept it together. I know they had to be hurting just like me, but they made it through. They went through the motions. They put one foot in front of the other and kept going. And I had no idea how hard it must have been.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I didn’t know what you were going through. I’m sorry I didn’t remember those things that would bring back the tears. I just didn’t know.

I am thankful to those who have been where I am today. Thankful for their understanding; for their notes and cards and texts.

I’m grateful I’m not going through this alone.

But most of all I’m thankful that I know I will see him again. That I believe life isn’t over at death. I believe in heaven and the afterlife. I am thankful that despite missing him terribly, I know that I will see him again. And that helps. It doesn’t take away the pain, but it gives me hope.

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