Category Archives: Marriage

A Letter From My Dad…

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A Letter From my Dad…

 

Some years back I got a letter from my dad.  It was the only letter I’d ever received from him – and it was the only letter I ever would.  He died shortly after writing it.

He wasn’t imparting some great bit of wisdom in it.  He wasn’t teaching me the important things in life.  He wasn’t trying to impart character or kindness or gentleness or an attitude of compassion or service.  He wasn’t instructing me to live a life that mattered or amounted to something.

It was short – about 3 or 4 sentences.  It wasn’t particularly well written.  It definitely wasn’t eloquent.

It was his best attempt at an apology, and I took it as such.  But if I’m honest, it wasn’t even a good apology.

When I was little – really little – my first vivid memory was seared into my psyche – that of a father, angered by something vague and confusing, storming around our house, slamming doors and yelling, and then getting in the car and driving away… for good.

It was a formative memory, as you might imagine.

Dads are important, but like so many other’s in our day, my dad left.

Father’s Day then, has always been a challenge.  I see cards with sentiments that I have never felt.  I hear testimonies to the “best dad ever” and I wonder what it must be like to think about someone that way.

But life goes on anyway, doesn’t it?  Time passes and children grow up whether their fathers help them grow up well or not, don’t they?

One year my kids were playing some music and the lyrics caught my attention.  Good Charlotte is one of those bands that can rock your ears right off, but this song (and several others) revealed an insight to this experience that made me listen again.  “Hey Dad” (lyrics here) verbalizes the pain that every child feels when they are abandoned by a parent.

And while the circumstances may be understood better as children grow into adulthood, the brokenness expressed in this song never goes away.  Read that again – it never goes away. The lesson that every child takes away from this kind if experience is this: he didn’t love me enough.  That’s a hard lesson to grapple with no matter how old you are.

What do we do?  How do we move forward?  How do we learn all of those important things that Dads should teach – no model – for their children?

It took me a long time, but I finally figured it out.

Not long after I received that one and only letter from my dad (which was many, many years after he had gone) it dawned on me that I do have an awesome letter from my DAD – my FATHER.

It’s long and wordy – full of wisdom and instruction.  It’s deep and thought-provoking.  It fills me with awe and wonder.  It challenges and convicts me.  It stretches me to think and respond and grow.  It’s the best letter any child could receive from any father!

It’s my Bible.

God’s Word is His letter to his children.  I read it now as a personal letter to me – from the One who tells me I can call him Daddy.  It tells me about His character.  It tells me how to live my life.  It tells me how to love him.  It tells me how to love others.  It teaches me to be kind and forgiving.  It teaches me to be helpful and serve others.  It’s got big lessons and small ones – lessons about how to view the world around me and what my history, my roots are; and it has lessons about how to handle money, how to deal with others in business, and yes, how to parent.  It has counsel for relationships and  it tells of His sacrificial love – that nothing would stop him from saving His own and nothing can steal them away – me away – from His tender care.  God’s Word makes it plain that He is not capricious, neither is he moody or selfish.  Everything He does is for my good.  Everything that He requires from me is for my good.  His word teaches me what true love is…

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (from 1 Corinthians 13)

God is love.  God is all of this and so much more and He is my dad – my Father.  And he wrote me a letter – the best letter anyone could ever receive.

It’s not that it doesn’t matter that my biological father did a bad job – it does.  But I don’t have to stay there – you don’t have to stay there.  Learn from it.  Feel deeply about it.  Minister to others who know the same pain.  But look to the love of God in the midst of it.  Know that you are learning things about the Almighty Creator of the Universe that you could not have learned any other way.  Stop aching for something your earthly father can never give you and fly into the arms of a Heavenly one who can’t wait for you to know how deep and wide and vast and free is HIS love for you.

So, to those of you who have been challenged by Father’s Days in the past, weep no more.  Look to the One who loves you better than any human man can.

And, to those of you who have wonderful dads – praise God for them!  Love them and honor them and cherish them.  Bless them and tell them how much you appreciate their steadfast, enduring love towards you.  Remember that no dad is perfect, but if they’re there, and they’re willing to try and fail and try again – you have been given a precious gift that is worth more than gold.  Encourage them today and maybe share them with some of those around you who need to peek into your family’s life to know what that should look like.  You have been richly blessed.

Happy FATHER’S day…

 

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O death

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My friend’s husband died today.  Cancer is an ugly word, but it’s an uglier way to die.  Death is ugly.  It really is the enemy.  Separation, loss, fear, anger –  all tied up in its inescapable grip that none of us gets to side-step.  Christians need to talk about this more.  We need to remind one another that everybody dies.  We need to live with the knowledge that at any moment our lives could end – how will they end?  We also need to live what life we have with purpose and energy knowing that we will be accountable for how we spent the minutes we were given.

She and I talked openly about what it’s like to be married to someone facing terminal situations – hers a more imminent one, but both death sentences, barring miracles.

Pain and fear never bring out the best in people.  It’s hard to go through it.  It’s hard to be married to someone going through it.  Try as we do to carry the load for our spouses for a while at least, in the end, it’s their load to carry alone.  But it costs us much.  Our spouses are both good husbands, but sometimes they’re pretty difficult patients.

We joked about having death preparation as part of pre-marital counseling – but we only laughed a little.  We wondered if we should write lists of things for other people to know.  Neither of us knew how to do this really – it would be good to have a guide book.  It’s been hard to walk through the maze of conflicting thoughts and feeling – all the details of preparations and decisions.  We commiserated about being torn between the searing pain of expected loss and the need to prepare to carry on, you know… “after”.  We confessed to sometimes creating distance out of self-protection, and then feeling indescribably ashamed for holding the person who needed us the most at an arm’s length.   We cried, and hugged, and left each other the last time feeling that at least we weren’t alone – but still carrying heavy burdens.

Run to Jesus, was all we could think to do.  We prayed.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Cor 15:55-58)

Your toil is not in vain in the Lord… that is comfort.  The toil of waking up again to serve a tired, irritable, scared spouse who is in pain was not in vain.  The toil of cleaning up vomit and so much more was not in vain.  The toil of trying to get him to eat, or take medication, or get up, or lie down was not in vain.  The toil of endless doctor’s appointments and tests and waiting rooms and uncomfortable car rides was not in vain.  The toil of praying against all hope for a miracle even as you watched your beloved wither before you was not in vain.  The toil of letting go, and watching the wretched process actually happen before your eyes was not in vain.  The toil of sitting by the bedside – steadfast, immovable – as he slipped into eternity, gasping, gasping and finally not… WAS NOT IN VAIN.

It is love.  It is the truest expression of caring.  Though the wickedness of our own selfishness screamed silently for an escape, still you stayed, and served, and loved through the toil of every day.   I know you did it because you loved him, but you were faithful because you love the Lord.

And none of it was in vain.  Thank you sweet friend for showing Jesus’ love to so many around you.  Your offerings of sacrificial love and service are like a cool drink in a barren desert.  What you’ve offered is an outpouring of your real and living faith – and none of it is in vain.

Confessions of a Veteran Mom

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Confessions of a Veteran Mom

I confess…

…to sneaking chocolate chips out of the cupboard when my kids aren’t looking.

… to answering, “Nophing,” when they ask, “what are you eating?”

… that over the years my husband and I have occasionally asked eachother why we ever started having kids in the first place

… that there have been long stretches of time where I’ve only changed the sheets on my kids beds when someone wet the bed or threw up on them.

…that sometimes, I like talking about being a mom more than I actually like being the mom.

… to taking longer showers than necessary because the water drowns out the noise.

… that I have actually asked the question, “SNAKE?  WHAT SNAKE??”

… that even though I love to grow vegetables, I sometimes only eat them out of a sense of duty.

…to reading books in 15 minute increments… often in the bathroom.

… to sometimes hiding in the bathroom and that when I hear one of my kids calling for me I quickly put the lid down and sit down so that I can yell, “I’m on the potty!”

… to dreaming about the days when my husband and I will have some time alone…

… to recently arguing with one of our teenagers that, no, I really don’t want them all to stay home for ever and am actually looking forward to the day when she and all the rest of her siblings are living somewhere else!

… that I can talk with another woman for two solid hours and not run out of things to say.

… that “Once-A-Month” cooking all in one day is a mean-spirited joke!

… that no matter how hard I’ve worked at making good-tasting, nutritious meals for my family, the babies would still rather eat the dog’s food.

… that there have been times when I thought, “If I hear that kid whine just one more time I’m going to send him into orbit!”

…that only other people’s children are playing three instruments, doing all their chores cheerfully, and never argue with their parents.

… that while motherhood is the hardest, most demanding job I’ve ever encountered, I can’t imagine living my life without these beautiful, wonderful, soul-stretching people that God has given us for – what turns out to be – such a short time.  That though we may have struggled in the most excruciating ways, I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything in this world.