Monday, June 15, 2015

Honor and Restoration [a father's day moment]

How do you start writing a post to honor someone who you have known all your life?
How do you begin to share the story of your lives?
How do you expound on moments that were hard, yet turned out for good?

I suppose that is the wonderful thing about the [backspace] key. So here it goes.

I'm a couple days early for the next holiday, but it is never too early to honor. I don't honestly remember ever meeting this man, but my first memory of him was sitting on his lap at a neighbor's house on Sunday afternoons when we still lived in town. I remember I was wearing fuzzy pink pajamas with feet, sitting there happy and content eating M&M's on my daddy's lap.

The years until I was almost a teenager are blurry, smudged with good, normal memories. I had everything I ever needed, and to be honest, short of the silly things all young children want, I wanted nothing extra. I really had it all.

Then something shifted, and my daddy and I didn't just drift apart. There was a chasm separating us as far as the eye could see. Oh, we'd be in the same room together, but our hearts were far from together. Before you gather assumptions like flowers, read some more without presuming too much about what I am about to say. Life was simply dark and scary from shortly before I hit my teens until several years ago. I didn't realize how much I needed a daddy, wanted a daddy, but due to things neither he nor I knew or understood at the time, it was as if I could not go to him. It was easier to push him away because I felt he didn't understand me or want to. He might not have understood me, but I know he wanted to. I look back now at those years and see a greater enemy, intent on destroying not only me, but also my relationship with my dad.

It is incredible to me how God's timing took me away from my home for a year and a half. That season was the hardest, most painful season I had ever gone through. God blessed me with eyes of other people who saw Jesus in me. Yes, there was Jesus, but there were also areas of my heart that were rebellious and painful. Through the months that I was gone, I learned to sit at His feet, learning, albeit slowly, to take everything to Him. Slowly, conversation with my dad turned fun, warm even. I welcomed moments that I would get to talk with him. There were times when a package from home would arrive, and he had written me a note. (all of these I have kept, sweet reminders on the hard days). As my parents and I meandered through the wilderness of memories I had, things continued to change.

I moved home almost two years ago. I wish I could tell you that it has been simply perfect since then. But it hasn't. I don't live in a fairy tale, so I won't feed you one. What I will tell you is that there has been restoration. It hasn't been easy, it hasn't been fun, and it certainly isn't over. And truly, I'm glad it isn't over; it means I keep getting more chances to know my dad better, more chances for both hearts to heal, more chances for me to let him be my daddy. The truth is, we still argue; but even that has changed. Where once my heart would shut down and anger would take over, that is no longer. We may not always agree, but that is okay. We won't always agree; that's what makes me, me, and my dad, my dad. What I would highlight here is the need for honor and living in accordance with God's Word. God does ask me to honor my parents, and when I started doing that from my heart, it was incredible the things that happened. I am merely one, but I haven't shared a victory in a while, and this one is worthy as it is heading toward a decade and a half of a battle.

So, this all being said, I love my dad. And today, I honor him. This man who changes my oil, checks my tires, puts my washer fluid in (even though I know how), and reminds me to get my tires rotated and balanced. He's the man who drove with me two hours because we both had the gut instinct that the car I was looking at would be a good one. He's the man who will literally tell me the same story three or four times because he forgot he already told me (at least we know he's honest :) ). He's the man who makes sure I have plenty of firewood for the nights I just want to sit outside and make s'mores. He's the man that will buy that random frappe' for mom and me simply because. He's the man takes me to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He's the man who drove with me six hours (listening to hours and hours of Odyssey) to see if Chicago was worth my time. He's the man who just the other morning at 5:30, brought me coffee in bed because I asked him to. He's the man who keeps trying to understand me, and I am ever so grateful.

In closing, I write these things to point out that Satan truly is here to steal, kill, and destroy. But, by the grace of God that didn't happen to me and this situation. And by the grace of God, it can change not only my life, but everyone else' lives.

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
-Ephesians 6:12

Monday, June 1, 2015

Weddings, Rainy Days, & Psalm 63

A recent wedding of a friend had me pondering life and the way God restores our brokenness. I have seen Him work His grace into heart after heart, including mine. Yet, there have been times when I questioned whether that same grace was restoring anything at all. Often looking the past is detrimental, but there are days like today that it is encouraging and fruitful. I had to look back for a moment and remember the person I was four years ago. I cringe when I remember her. I also took a moment to look at my present and my future, my thought processes then vs. my thought processes now, and my heart’s desires then and my heart’s desires now. The darkness of the past could not even begin to compare to even the smallest of changes that had started in my heart.

But God.

All that to point out the beautiful tears that were shed by my friend’s daddy, her fiancĂ© (now husband), and herself as her daddy gave her away to a man that had loved her like Christ loved. My own tears ran at the beauty of it all, reminding me of the things that are being restored in my own life. The pureness of this moment was only added to by a message straight from the heavenlies. The man who spoke shared much, but what stuck out the most to me was the grace and mercy and love Christ had toward us. How this extended into the beauty of this particular wedding and marriage.

So I pondered on my way home, pondered life and all that God is doing, and asking questions. Having gone to bed several hours after I flew in, I woke up hoping that some of my questions had vanished. But, no, they still lingered, poking my heart in agitating ways. Sharing them with Jesus, I got into my car and went to work, expecting to have to fight all day, forgetting for a moment how gracious He is. That moment came when I got a text from a dear friend asking me to stop by this week sometime. Time allowed me to do so today. I smile because Jesus is phenomenal at taking care of this heart of mine. Walking to my friend’s front door, I wondered what it was that she had brought me there for. As I saw what she had, I almost burst into tears. Her gift was a gift that spoke of the volumes of her heart for me (her heart mirrors what I know Jesus' heart is for me). And I was again reminded that the way I see myself is not necessarily how God sees me. We sat with cups of coffee and stopped for a brief but full moment to chat. Rain dropped lightly as she allowed me to share something woven deeply into my heart. Once again I was blessed to see that the things she said were things I had been bringing to Jesus.

Now, I don’t write this to write about myself, but to encourage those who have questions or are in a season of dryness or some other heavy moment. Maybe it’s your past creating chains that burden or maybe it’s a worry that you may never be fully healed from a painful experience or maybe it’s something else entirely. He is good and faithful to care for your heart in the middle of it all. The truth is this sweet friend of mine who got married, and my friend who listened to my heart today, and I, have tasted and seen that the Lord is good even in the middle of pain and crazy. His love is truly better than life. Jesus is the Redeemer, the Restorer, and the Healer, truly indescribable. His grace IS sufficient. His discipline is actually quite kind, though at times painful.

So, in summary, the things I’m learning are these: life is not about me but about the glory of God and who He is and what He has done for and is doing for us (hence this muddled post). I am also learning that God has many people who plant seeds and many who water those same seeds, but it is always, ALWAYS God who gives the growth and will someday (if not at the time) receive glory for what He has done. And finally, I am relearning His vast love for me and that I really do not have to have it all together before I fall at His feet. His graciousness is amazing.

 “O God, you are my God; earnestly I will seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you are long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”
 –Psalm 63:1-4