A Tribute To The Dads–Because You Just Do Some Things Better

thumb_IMG_4979_1024There are some things a Daddy can do like no one else. It used to annoy me that I would do exactly what Jon did only to get a much less enthusiastic response. I remember especially the devastating moment when Kieran, at five years old, excitedly announced, “Daddy just taught me to ride a bike!”

Never mind that I had spent five days in a row running breathlessly down the street hanging on to him. Never mind that I cried more than he did when he fell off and scraped his knee. None of that counted five minutes after Jon went off with him, gave him a shove on his new bike and called out, “Now pedal!” Daddy did in minutes what I could not in nearly a week of dashed hopes and tears.

Over the years, Jon has stopped doing some of these things because the kids have grown too big. Others he still does no matter how big they are or how much they think they don’t need them anymore.

Some Things Daddy Just Does Better (I’m not saying we moms can’t do them, but in our house, Dad just has a special knack):

  • Give pony rides that rival a circus event.
  • Carry toddlers on his shoulders for hours to give them a better view.
Daddy and Avielle

Daddy and Avielle

Daddy and Samara

Daddy and Samara

 

  • Dance with his girls standing on his toes.

 

 

 

 

 

Kaila no longer needs to stand on her daddy's toes, but sometimes still does.

Kaila no longer needs to stand on her daddy’s toes, but sometimes still does anyway.

  • Give the biggest, best bear hugs.
  • Watch the same Disney movie over and over and over again.
  • Tell jokes that make his kids laugh out loud.
  • Come home to a chaotic mess and bring it peace.
  • Make his daughters feel like they are the most special girls in the world with just one look.
  • Be ridiculously goofy no matter who’s watching.thumb_IMG_5061_1024thumb_IMG_6751_1024
  • Empower his son to treat all women with dignity and respect by seeing how Dad treats Mom.
  • Teach his daughters what to look for in a man.
  • Turn boys into men.
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    Jon and Kieran (at 5).

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    Jon and Kieran (at 20).

  • Make his daughters feel beautiful, and loved, and treasured.
  • Pass on an appreciation and respect for heritage.

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    Commercial fishing in Alaska.

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  • Make all of them feel safe in the worst of storms.
  • Teach his children that nothing is more important than them–no job promotion, no amount of money, no “stuff”.
  • Release them to become all they can be and encourage Mom to do the same–who otherwise might clutch them for dear life (of course, not yours truly ;)).

To those without a daddy like this here on earth, I believe you have One in Heaven who assures you that you are the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8) and that “He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

To my children’s daddy, thank you for doing so many things better than I can.P1020532

To my own Daddy, thank you for showing me how to find someone like you. You will always be my greatest hero.

My Daddy

My Daddy

And to all dads, ones who have it good and ones who are struggling, thank you for trying to do what only you can. You are the most incredible man in your children’s lives, whether they say it or not. You may feel under-appreciated, but you are always needed.

Happy Fathers Day Every Day!

(This post was pulled from the archives and updated. See original article from June 2014.)

 

Good Grief – Part 2

To see more on the goodness of grief, here is Good Grief–Part 1.

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In the midst of grief L-O-S-S is a four letter word. We like to win, not lose, but we do lose when someone we love dies. It can be the loss of what was or what never was. Either way it hurts!

“But we don’t talk about it very often. Like a silent conspiracy, we seem to have an unspoken agreement with others not to talk about our losses. Yet with each and every loss comes the potential for change, growth, new insights, understanding, and refinement – all in the future, and we fail to see that far ahead when we are in the midst of our grief,” says H. Norman Wright in Recovering from the Losses of Life.

Interestingly enough, just before Malorie entered hospice I read a wonderful post about grief which stuck with me.  Of her time with the Lord, Brooke Kireta said,

“He (the Lord) was telling me how people don’t grieve enough which I thought was kind of weird because most people are really sad.  But then I heard Him say-the reason there is so much depression is because there is not enough grieving. If we knew the importance of taking the time to grieve-we would stop bottling up all the painful emotions that lead us into addictions, illicit relationships, and unhealthy patterns. As Americans with our staunch belief in the pursuit of happiness-we cannot stand the idea of grieving. We want to be happy all the time. It is our right as Americans. The only problem is-it’s not healthy or realistic.”

She was telling my story and H. Norman Wright confirmed it. I do not think I have ever grieved and Malorie’s death touched every loss I ever denied.

“When a child doesn’t grieve over a loss, a similar loss in adult life can reactivate the feelings associated with the childhood experience.” H. Norman Wright

Grief is important. Grief is Godly. Grief is healthy. Grief is GOOD.

We have probably all read the stages of grief at least once in our lifetime:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I like lists, they make me feel safe. Seeking safety above all else has kept me from grieving my whole life, so this list will be put aside. I will consider this list and may even refer to it, but I am going to hand over the reins and allow my Savior to lead and guide me and comfort me through the stages of grief.

“And we can take the time to process the pain and grief with God or we can pull up our boot straps and muscle our way through it. But eventually the straps break and our muscles give out. We cannot do this on our own. The pain is too much to bear. So we need a Savior”Brooke Kireta

My muscles have given out and I recognize my need to grieve for the loss of my friend and so many other losses, but I will not do this alone. I lay it down at His feet for Him to sort through the mess of losses I have made and trust Him to make it into something beautiful as only He can do. I desire all God has for me, but His path, not mine is the perfect one to get me there. So, I can trust that the difficult road of grieving leads to His perfect plan for my life and ultimately my freedom.

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In Recovering from the Losses of Life we are told, “The purpose of grieving over your loss is to get beyond these reactions to face your loss and work on adapting to it. The overall purpose of grief is to bring you to the point of making necessary changes so you can live with the loss in a healthy way.”

What have you lost? A friend, a relationship, a spouse? Maybe it was a job, a dream or a house? Regardless of the loss the pain is eerily similar. Can you invite your Father to hold you and lead you through your grief toward your freedom? Will you make the necessary changes that will bring growth and healing?

Father, thank you that grief is a process, so we know it has a beginning, but also an end. We trust You to bring us through the process making all things new. Not forgetting, but learning to hold dear, that which we lost. Thank you for being with us in the sadness, anger and denial. You are a faithful God, an ever present comfort in our times of grief. We need Your help to experience the joy you promise in the morning.

 

How To Tame Your To-Do List and Take Back Your Time

Family Photo copyIt stares at me. From its place on my side table, my to-do list takes on a life of its own and demands I do this and do that, go here and go there as it whips me into a frenetic pace that drains me. Until I decide who’s really in charge, it becomes a relentless dictator that drives my life and my choices. And unfortunately even my joy.

Whether or not you make a written to-do list or carry one in your head, I’m sure you have days or weeks that it gets out of control and begins dictating your time instead of the other way around.

In itself, my to-do list can be liberating. But when I fail to rule what goes on it, it becomes a taskmaster that demands too much, rewards little, and keeps me chained to the insignificant. I find myself racing from one thing to another instead of doing what I truly love and making an impact in what matters most to me. 

The Word says, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10).

Life is short. If we establish our priorities as we talked about in 3 Steps to Putting First Things First, then we must also ensure that the snatch of time we have each day lines up with those priorities. If we do, one day we will look back on these moments with satisfaction instead of longing for what could have been.

So how can we tame our to-do list and experience the joy of doing what we love and pursuing what we were created for?

1—Protect the important things by putting them on the calendar first. Is it a date with your husband? A game night with the kids? Time to exercise, or work on that book you have inside you? If it’s really a priority, then your calendar should reflect it and your to-do list should include it.

2—Eliminate everything that doesn’t line up with your priorities. Is a birthday party of a friend’s friend really something you should allot time for simply because you ran into her at the mall and she extended the invitation? Will that really move you closer to where you want to be or will it rob you of time you could be spending more wisely?

3—Keep it short and be realistic. We all have a million things to do, but we can’t do a million things. Effective people know they can do perhaps 5 things and they can do those 5 things well.

There are days I actually believe I can enthusiastically homeschool my children, pay the bills, organize my closets, finally sift through my emails, make business calls for my husband, whip up a gourmet dinner, get 4 loads of laundry finished, and still have the energy to be the perky little wife my husband would love me to be by lights out.

Instead, the fact is, I impatiently hurry the kids through lessons, pay the wrong amount to the electric company (really!), throw a few things out of my closet and plan to get back to it later, press “Delete All” on my emails (except yours of course:) ), get annoyed with the customer who asks me the same question 4 different ways, order pizza, wash some underwear, and collapse into bed unshowered. Busy, yes, but hardly the outcome I wanted.

4—Give yourself permission to say, “No.” If this is hard for you, then practice saying, “Can I let you know tomorrow?” Then consider if the request is really something that lines up with your priorities. If not, craft a kind response and move on. I usually say, “I’m sorry. I appreciate the offer, but I have to honor the commitments I’ve already made.” You cannot make everyone happy, and you are not responsible for trying.

5—Have grace. You’ll get off track. You’ll get irritated at the unsuspecting cable guy who showed up 30 minutes late (and they always do) because your day is now behind schedule, you’ll glare at your husband when he asks if he has clean jeans and say, “Why doesn’t ANYONE else EVER do ANYTHING around here?!” (Of course that’s hypothetical since I’ve never done that). It’s okay. Claim a do-over, a pray-over, and then start over.

So, when you find yourself feeling like there’s no way to get everything done, you’re probably right. It’s a good way to know you need to dial back the insanity of busyness and be more intentional. So, take a deep breath, determine what is really important–what you hope your children will remember about you in 20 years, tame your to-do list and take back your time.

What would taming your to-do list leave you time for today? I’d love for you to leave me a comment telling me what your perfect day looks like.

 

 

 

Good Grief – Part 1

“Have started hospice for Malorie,” a text from her husband flashed across my screen as I clicked on the new message tab.  It was February 27, 2016 at 9:49 a.m. I was in my bedroom and I stayed in there for a long time, in disbelief. I was afraid to respond to the text and denial quickly set in. Thankfully, my sweet husband took the liberty of booking a flight so I could spend time with her the next weekend.

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Malorie flew to Georgia in 2006 to be with me for the birth of my daughter Kaira. This photo was taken before Malorie went home when Kaira, who was born on her birthday, was just four days old.

Malorie was my dearest and closest friend for almost twenty years. In a recent letter to her I wrote, “I am the mom (woman) I am largely due to your love, prayers and support. When I met you I was a mess, but you loved me, befriended me and taught me and never treated me like the mess I was.” She was the single, most influential person in my life. How do you say good-bye? Well, I still do not know, but I am learning.

When I arrived at the hospice facility on Friday and Malorie heard I was there her eyes popped open and she looked around for me until her beautiful eyes settled on my familiar face.  I will never forget that.

Sunday morning I got time alone with her and I used that time to remind her of all she had taught me, to use her very words to bring comfort. I reminded her of all she taught me about our Father and how it had changed my life. It was a precious time. She was reciting scripture, finishing my sentences and still believing in her good, good Father. Grief did not set in because her faith was still contagious.

A month and a half after that text came my children and I sat in a church for Malorie’s memorial service.  I had to be there, they had to be there, to hear about this woman who had affected my life and in turn affected theirs, forever!  Everyone said the same things:

  • You did not meet Malorie you “encountered” her
  • We had lively discussions about scripture
  • She treated others the way she wanted to be treated
  • She made you feel like her best friend
  • She was a pioneer
  • We got lost while driving to (fill in the blank)

We flew home on Mother’s Day, which was usually a day I talked with Malorie and she always honored me as a mom although a mom much longer herself.  We did not talk this Mother’s Day.  Monday the grief set in. I would not see or speak to my friend again in this life.  

I was given a book Recovering from the Losses of Life by H. Norman Wright and as I began to read a lifetime of grief stored up in me began to surface. Losing my friend was going to be a catalyst for a journey I needed to take. The Lord nudging and encouraging me to embark on this journey of grieving. The journey of releasing all to Him to receive all He has for me.  The journey of believing in my good, good Father just as Malorie had modeled.  Believing that although sorrow may last for a night, joy comes in the morning. Believing that grieving is good and necessary for growth. Believing that through grief, although sad and painful I will more fully see and experience the good. Believing that the seeds Malorie planted are being watered by the Father to bear good fruit.

What losses are you grieving or denying? Ask your Father to show you areas where you need to grieve and areas where you have grieved and can now receive the blessing and joy from the completed process. Invite Him into your grief, for He alone can bring the peace that surpasses understanding.

Father, your Son taught us that, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” We thank you for the comfort and assurance. You are our God and Father of mercies who comforts us in our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any afflictions, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Thank you for your promise that sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Amen.

Join me here for Good Grief–Part 2 on June 9, 2016

 

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed

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This is a beautiful story of faith in spite of great loss. Katrina Workman has great experience and wonderful insight in learning to trust God in the longing, the waiting, and the loss of a child through miscarriage. I hope you’re encouraged by her words..

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2)

Being all too familiar with pregnancy loss, a friend recently asked what I thought was more challenging in my faith walk, struggling with trying to conceive again, or dealing with the anxiety of being pregnant again after suffering a loss.

I have been on both sides of this emotional see-saw, and I think they are equally challenging.

After our first baby died at 23 weeks gestation, it took me almost a year to get pregnant again. It was a tremendous struggle emotionally and spiritually. Every month spent waiting to see if I would get my period was so stressful. I would obsess over my ovulation timing and keep charts to track the “best” days to get pregnant.

I prayed fervently, “Lord, please, please, PLEASE just let me be pregnant again!” Then, although I kicked myself for it, I would get cranky at all the people on Facebook announcing pregnancies and births.

Finally, at the end of that long year and another disappointing “Negative” on the pregnancy test, I had an epiphany: I was asking God for what I wanted, instead of trusting Him to give me what He knew I needed in His perfect timing. Of course, I knew this all along but until that moment, I didn’t truly accept it with my heart.

Once I had that realization, it was like a huge load had been lifted off my shoulders and I just said, “OK, God, I’m along for the ride, whatever it is, wherever it might lead.” And then, one week later, despite a negative test and no way medically I should have been, I was pregnant.

But once that initial excitement has a few moments to sink in, so does the anxiety! Once you have lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth, being pregnant can be terrifying even though it’s joyful. You can never really relax. Every appointment, every wave of the Doppler wand, every second spent waiting to hear the baby’s heartbeat was like a pop quiz of my faith. My heart would stop for a half-second while I waited to hear those reassuring thumps.

But that, again, was an opportunity for God to strengthen my faith. It really was like falling off a tightrope and trusting that God has put a net below you.

During those long 9 months of waiting (OK, who are we kidding, it’s really 10 months), I learned to rely on faith and fellowship and it became my sustenance:

  • I would group-chat on Facebook Messenger with some of my close girlfriends who are believers and they would send me verses and encouragement.
  • I leaned on the support and love of the older women in my ladies’ group at church (most of whom were moms and many of whom had also suffered pregnancy loss in their lifetimes).
  • Before every checkup, I sang praise songs loudly in my car and in my head in the waiting room (and sometimes out loud there too!).
  • I read a devotional book for pregnant mothers to help me stay in the Word. Reading about God’s promises to others reminded me that I wasn’t alone.

The entire pregnancy was a reminder of how I’m not really in control of any of it. In the end, I experienced the sweet relief of having a healthy son placed in my arms, and I will never stop being thankful, especially because I know not everyone gets that result.

Unfortunately, going through one loss doesn’t make you immune to more. We suffered an early miscarriage this past fall and another, later miscarriage just last month. In some ways those were more challenging than our first loss, because when you walk through a fire like that once, you feel like you’ve paid your dues…until you remember your not the only one. The Bible is full of people who were tested over and over again!

Think about Joseph being thrown into the pit by his brothers. He never saw it coming and often the same is true for us. Terrible things can happen with no warning. Joseph’s story got worse before it got better as he continued to have unexpected and undeserved challenges. But he never gave up and never lost his faith.

We too need a solid foundation to hold us steady in the midst of all the twists and turns and anxieties that life and motherhood and womanhood throw at us. God is that foundation. Just as Jesus calmed the storm in the Sea of Galilee, God calms the storms in each of our lives.

“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He still the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” (Psalm 107:28-29)

So just weeks ago, I was managing the anxiety that came hand-in-hand with being pregnant after suffering prior losses. Now, I find myself on the other side of the equation again–grieving our miscarriage and confronted with the questions about whether and when I will become pregnant. And holding my breath again.

But then I remember: It’s out of my hands. And whose better hands to be in than God’s?

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials & sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)