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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Joined for Life

George Eliot wrote, “What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.”  Last weekend Becky and I were privileged to reconnect with people with whom we are joined for life.  We returned to a church family we were part of more than twenty years ago.  It was like going home.

The Country Club Road church in Roswell, New Mexico is a special family and place.  Our youngest was born there, and all three of our children spent some of their most formative years there.  This is a community of faith that helped to raise our children.  What am I saying?  They helped to raise us!  It was a great weekend.  We reminisced.  We laughed.  We shed a few tears.  We reconnected with people who were dear to us long ago and who remain so.

What do people do who have no such family?  How do they cope?  Where do they find the joy in living?  Today, I’m thanking God for family, for church families to whom we are joined for life, for opportunities to revisit one’s happy past, and for the truly wonderful gift of memory.  All of these are priceless gifts of a loving, heavenly father.

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Last week I was able to talk to a sweet lady as she waited for surgery.  I noticed an accent and inquired about her home country.  It was a simple question really.  But her answer will long live in my heart.

She was a baby when WWII began.  One night when she was two years old her daddy left home to purchase some milk for her.  He never returned and they discovered that he had been arrested by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz where he was executed.  As I held her hand I was riveted to her words as she unfolded events of her life.  The story of her childhood was filled with pain, abandonment, abuse, and terror.  It broke my heart.

Suddenly she said, “I’m sorry.  I am talking too much.”  I quickly assured her that she was not and thanked her for sharing her life story with me.  I told her how deeply it had touched me.  She leaned up on one arm and, dropping her voice, said in broken English, “Do you know some people don’t believe this really happened?  The Holocaust.”  I knelt down to where we were eye to eye and I called her by name and said, “Please hear me my friend.  I believe it happened.  And I am so sorry how it hurt you and your family.”  She began to weep.  After 70 years it still makes her cry.  I also said, “Please don’t stop telling your story because if people forget that the Holocaust happened we are at risk of letting it happen again.”

She squeezed my hand tightly and said, “We just can’t forget.”

It is beyond my ability to understand how a group of people can target another group of people and incite such unspeakable atrocities.  It is also beyond my ability to understand how people can actually say that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

Denial.  Forgetfulness.  They can be dangerous things.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was also executed by the Nazis when he was only thirty-nine years old, said “Satan does not fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God…”

How can we EVER forget God?  Talk about another atrocity!  How can I ever forget how good God is to me?  How much he blesses me – even in dark and difficult places of life.

It strikes me how important it is to also keep sharing the stories about God’s precious work in people’s lives – in days gone by (Hebrews 11) – in my life today.  We must keep sharing the stories of God.

Because we just can’t forget.

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My “Blessed” Mother

Mom and Susanna at Spring Sing 2008

Mom and Susanna at Spring Sing 2008

My brother, Jeff, started a tradition in our family a few years ago that I wish had been started much earlier.  It’s a fine tradition that gives honor to whom honor is due.  When any of us children have a birthday, we send Mom flowers.  I’m thinking of this just now because I just ordered a dozen yellow roses for Mom for my birthday.

Of the worthy woman of Proverbs 31, it was said, “Her chilren rise up and call her ‘blessed.'”  That’s my mother.  She is one of the most spiritual, God-fearing women I know, and I owe much of what I am to her.  Godly parents are a wonderful gift of God.  Thanks, Mom, for being such a gift.  I love you.

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A proud father and a beautiful bride!

A proud father and a beautiful bride!

My wife and I had a major life experience a week ago Sunday with our daughter’s wedding, and I would like to process some of my feelings in this online journal, if you in cyberspace don’t mind.

Susanna is our baby, our only daughter, and the last of our three children to marry.  May I say that it was quite an emotional event.  I’m sure that is no surprise to you who have married off children, especially you fathers who have married off daughters.  We have married off two sons, but for some reason, our sons’ weddings did not affect me quite like the wedding of our daughter.  Why is that?  My love for them is no less than my love for her.

Her wedding brought out feelings that were all over the chart, for me.  There was some pain.  The joy far outweighed the pain, but there was pain, nevertheless.  I think I was saddened by the feeling that this event really marked a degree of separation from our daughter.  There was a feeling that in some sense, she was leaving our family.  Of course, she will always be a part of our family, but now she has started her own family.  I’m sure that is the way God intended it, but if I had my druthers, I would like to see her start her own family without the feeling that she was leaving ours!  I’m happy to add members to the family; I just don’t want to see any leave!

I think the overwhelming emotion I experienced was gratitude.  The tears were motivated by joy and gratitude, not by sadness.  This is probably too simple of an explanation;  what I felt at her wedding was likely much more complicated.  But, all day I was mindful of the goodness of God, and that touched my heart.  Becky and I have so many precious memories of Susanna and our time with her over the years.  I thought, “God, why have I been so blessed to have a daughter like this, and to have shared so many wonderful experiences with her?”

For those who love God, a wedding is but another opportunity to celebrate another of his countless gifts and to acknowledge his goodness and loving-kindness.  Right?  As I looked into my daughter’s face, as I saw her groom, as I scanned the faces of those who came to celebrate with us — my parents, my in-laws, my brothers and sisters, our friends, my wife, our children, their spouses, our grandchildren, and on and on — I realized again how richly blessed I really am.  God has been good to me!  All of which reminds me of these words: “O Thou fount of every blessing; Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy never ceasing; Call for songs of loudest praise!”

In spite of my joy and gratitude, I must admit that for a day or two, I was noticeably down.  I’m not sure why.  I was just a little depressed.  Has anyone out there shared similar feelings?  Do such feelings come to most parents who see their children marry?  Or, is it me?  Perhaps, I need to alter my perspective.  Thanks for listening.

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