My Father's Daughter


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How Sarah helped me blog anew

I haven’t posted on this blog since September 2008. My eldest daughter was born in early October of 2008. Coincidence? I think not. After baby number two I started a new blog called Tales of the Reluctant Mother in order to navigate the murky waters of motherhood and my place in it.

But sometimes I want to blog about other things. I have other journeys, other battles to fight, and other issues to shed light on (and clearly far too many metaphors for just one blog). I’ve been toying with returning to this, my humble blogging beginning. And then, then I read Sarah Bessey’s blog post In which we are saved, right now and it set my heart a-hummin. I wander over to Sarah’s blog periodically without following her formally as I covet her writing talent. But I will take up her challenge to share a post on the same theme. So, here I go.

What is saving my life right now.

What is saving my life right now is the need my babies have of me. Not because I am a good parent, or a better parent than their Dad (I give them too much sugar, allow too much TV and don’t get on the floor to be their human jungle gym). They need me because I am Mom and I am THEIR Mom. I see into their little hearts and know the tenderness there; I hear their laughter and know the wisdom there; I feel their little arms around my neck and know their love – that precious, precious love of a child for her mother.

What is saving my life right now is my parents. The tearful pride in my Dad’s eyes when he thinks of his kids – of me. He’s proud of me. And the pride I have for my mother who at age 66 started a new job and found passion – and because she was passionate about it and because she was perfect for it she excelled at it. This gives me hope for my own career search and dissatisfaction.

What is saving my life right now is my husband. Through 8 years we have navigated (read: fought) our way through the difficult times of work frustrations, personal heartaches, loss, grief, painful growth, and our individual selfishness and are now coming through it to finally start to see each other, know each other, love each other (you know, what we should have done from day one).

What is saving my life right now is finally, finally, finally, understanding at a heart level things I should already know about my God – how he values me, THAT he values me, how wide and deep his compassion is and how amazing is his love. Why don’t I know these things yet? Where have I been? Oh, yeah, lost in fear and doubt.

What is saving my life right now is the big things in my life – the big loves, the big relationships, the big reasons to be alive. I would love it if I was noticing the little things in life to counter-balance the little irritations, but right now my problems feel big, and I need the big things to save me. And I will cling to the big things until I can see clearly enough to notice the little joys in life. I know they are many, and I know they are just out of my sight, I can feel them like a childhood memory that is close to being remembered but still hazy. I will find my balance and breath in crisp air and be happy, see flowers and be peaceful, hear the wind and be relaxed. Someday.

Until then, coffee is saving me too.

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Dreams

A friend at work has a little plaque that states the following: Dreams can’t come true if you don’t have any. The past two weeks I’ve been thinking that dreams aren’t broken if you don’t have any.

While it isn’t everyone’s dream, it is a dream of Phil’s to drive for a living. Since it appears the major league baseball career is out of reach he longs to spend his days on the road, seeing new places, singing/humming/whistling along to music in his private one-man concert. And, bless his heart he has pursued that dream. And like any dream pursual it hasn’t been easy. It’s been remarkably hard. There have been a number of set-backs and with each one of them we’ve focused on being supportive of each other and leaning on God and trying to see what we could learn from it all.  Oh, and we cried a lot.

I think what I’ve learned about Phil is some of his biggest areas of vulnerability and his greatest areas of strength. From pushing me to pray, pray, pray, to his endless optimism and his courage to even begin the journey, he has shone through this experience. I think you really get to know your partner during your most trying times together. How can we not be grateful for that?

It appears now as though Phil’s dream is, if not firmly in his grasp, within reach. He is insured (the biggest hurdle to date). Next we will learn if dreams really do come true.


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First House

There are a lot of firsts in life that mark a person’s growth and development and the passage of time — first steps, first day of school, first kiss, first time someone rips hair from your upper lip with piping hot wax lest you continue to look like your grandmother. A notable first in my life in the last month has been the purchase of a house. A house. Nothing makes you feel more grown up than a mortgage.

What a blessing a house is. A greater blessing still a sense of home. Home is a place to belong, a place to rest, a place of comfort and [hopefully] joy. Owning your own house makes the realization of that sense all the more tangent.

But as a friend and I were discussing this morning, C.S. Lewis points out in The Screwtape Letters (run, don’t walk, to rush out and read this book) it is laughable for humans to believe they own anything on this earth. To claim ownership of their time, money, even body and soul is ridiculous. We are given things to tend to, but ultimately they are not ours.

So, I will try to think of this new development in our lives as one of the “talents” the master has given us to tend to until his return. I will try to be thankful for this gift while refraining from believing it to be mine. I will appreciate the sense of belonging, the rest, and the comfort and joy we gain from having a home while keeping in mind that these gifts merely point to our true and ultimate home.


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Greatness

I like sports movies. I like the human drama — Joe Athlete who is talented but disadvantaged in some way overcomes the odds to reach victory. I like that the “games” you see are only the highlights and moments of big action; the defining moments. I like the excitement and intensity. I especially like it when they are based on true stories as so many of them are.

So it was with no great difficulty that I sat down to watch The Greatest Game Ever Played awhile back(Joe Athlete in this case is a very talented, very young, working class golfer who wins the U.S. Open in a time when only “gentlemen” played the game). One of my thoughts while watching was that it would be so neat to have an extraordinary talent and to know you needed to use it. To know that you were great at something, or even among the greatest at something. That would just be cool.

The very next day my Bible reading found me in Matthew 20 where Jesus’ disciples ask him about greatness. Jesus tells them that for anyone to become great he or she must be humbled as a servant. The day after that I was putting my oldest niece to bed and HER Bible reading was in Mark 9. Again, Jesus teaches his disciples about greatness stating that, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35, NASB).

What is great about the greatness that Jesus teaches is that it requires no talent. While he does admonish us to use the talents we’ve been given for his purpose and glory, the greatness he speaks of in the aforementioned passages is the result of humble, simple service. Foot-washing kind of stuff. It requires no special training or environment — it is attainable by anyone in any context.

I know what I put forward here is not a novel concept. It is one of those, Well, duh moments. I just think it is a good reminder for those of us living in a society that gives labels like “The Great One” to the Wayne Gretzky’s of the world. And while I think that talent like that of Wayne Gretzky’s is God-given and admiration of it is admiration of God’s creation (note I said admiration of Wayne’s talent, not Wayne), I also think it’s pretty cool that I can achieve greatness far greater than The Great One’s by humbly serving someone else.


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Can’t we all just get along?

Last week I was following the story of a church of Christ minister in Tennessee who was killed by his wife. My morbid fascination was fueled by the fact that this couple met at Freed Hardman College — the college my Dad attended, and that one of their daughters is named Mary Alice. But other aspects of the story interested me as well — I felt the congregation’s reaction to the trauma was very admirable, and I just wanted to know why this woman, who members of the congregation described as “lovely” and “precious” did this horrible thing.

Because of my interest, a friend of mine showed me part of a transcript from a CNN program. It seems they had a Baptist pastor on to discuss the shooting death of this minister and the church of Christ in particular. His comments were, from what I read, very slanderous, and, from my experience, inaccurate (I was going to include the link or some direct quotes here in my blog, but I feel no need to spread the slander). He made claims that the church of Christ is cult-like, closed-minded, and legalistic. Some of the things he said may have been true of some members at some time, but from ALL my experience with churches of Christ in Ontario and the United States it is NOT TRUE of the majority.

After I got over my initial feelings of ire, my questions were, WHY? WHY? WHY? Why use this as a platform for hate propaganda against one church? Why, in a world where a man was nearly executed in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity can’t those of us living under the umbrella of “Christian” in North America find some common ground? Why can’t we see that this kind of division hurts the Kingdom? Why can’t we see our similarities instead of our differences? We are not that different.

I guess my last question was, How can you say that? How can you say that about a congregation that has rallied around this wife who confessed to killing her husband? They have responded in love and support. They have been there at her court dates. They have stated they will get her what she needs. All without knowing her motive. In fact, they have discouraged speculation and gossip about the details and motive for the murder. They have posted pictures of the entire family on a bulletin board. They have come together to support the three daughters of this couple. They have come together to get through this. That just doesn’t seem like a congregation that belongs to the church described in such a hateful way on CNN.


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Today I will…

Today I will think good thoughts, Godly thoughts.
Today I will give others the benefit of the doubt and offer love and mercy instead of judgement.
Today I will remember those the world has forgotten.
Today I will be thankful for, and generous with, what I have instead of longing for what I don’t.

Today I will focus on whose I am instead of who I am.


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The Rock[star]s will cry out

I think one of the surest testaments to God’s existence as well as His desire to have a relationship with His children, is the longing for Him that each human possesses. One of the surest testaments to this longing is our art, our literature, our music — expressions of the pursuit of fulfillment of the void. SO many “love” songs are actually sentiments more appropriately reserved for God. Human relationships can never replace a relationship with God. We will never get from another person the things we can get from God. And so these modern day psalmists are actually penning words that express in meaningful ways love of, need of, and praise of God.

Exhibit A:

PUSH

Every time I look at you the world just melts away
All my troubles all my fears dissolve in your affections
You’ve seen me at my weakest but you take me as I am
And when I fall you offer me a softer place to land

Chorus
You stay the course you hold the line you keep it all together
You’re the one true thing I know I can believe in
You’re all the things that I desire, you save me, complete me
You’re the one true thing I know I can believe

I get mad so easy but you give me room to breathe
No matter what I say or do ’cause you’re too good to fight about it
Even when I have to push just to see how far you’ll go
You won’t stoop down to battle but you never turn to go

(Chorus)

There are times I can’t decide when I can’t tell up from down
You make me feel less crazy when otherwise I’d drown
But you pick me up and brush me off and tell me I’m ok
Sometimes that’s just what we need to get us through the day

(Chorus)

Written by Sarah McLachlan