Friday, March 30, 2018

I Can Truly Imagine

I want so much for my children. I want them to have good health, happiness, and blessings. More than anything, I want them to know what a relationship with Jesus is like. They were brought up in an era that questions everything. And questions can be a good or bad thing. But they also seem to be a little more skeptical of what is holy and good sometimes. They seem to confusion religion with what really is relationship.

I can't blame them because our faith always taught us that doing good and being good would earn eternal points. God seemed like a big nasty teacher, one that would pounce on you and give you a good smack with his almighty ruler when you got the answer to one of His questions wrong.

The God I've come to know is nothing like that. I am so grateful for my church's messages and music and how they've shown me what a loving God's grace is all about. Prayer is so very real to me now, and it's something that I cannot go a day without. My conversations with God are friendly and real. I can speak with Him about everything that is in my heart or on my mind.

This Easter I wanted to do something special with my son. I thought we could go to the Good Friday church service together. It had been a very long time that he'd come with me to church. He agreed to dinner and church, and I secretly glowed. But then something else hit me strongly. That nudging of the Holy Spirit. The new movie "I Can Only Imagine" is playing in our local theaters right now too, and I wondered if perhaps this was more of what I was looking for with my son. Visuals seem to resonate strongly with him. He had loved the movie "The Shack" and gotten much from it, he had said. So I gave him the choice: dinner and church, or dinner and an inspirational movie. He chose the movie.

If you haven't seen it, may I suggest "I Can Only Imagine." It's a true story of Bart Millard, the lead singer of Mercy Me. His journey was difficult at the hands of an abusive father. He could not realize his talent and passion until he came to grips with some very hard truths. This movie was real and powerful. Though we may not have suffered abuse as this man did, we all have our own areas of pain and suffering. My own was with my mother's mental illness when I was a child. All of a sudden it hit me; I should write more from my heart and pain. Not to make my mother look bad, but to make God shine. This is what Bart Millard did: he was able to tell a story, but not glorify the bad so much as give glory to the One who can make all things--all people, new.

When the movie was over, my son leaned over and said, "Wow, that was amazing. Everyone should see this movie. You didn't tell me it was a tear jerker, though." I glowed. This one-on-one moment with my son was priceless. Being able to discuss the Lord for a few minutes with him, and for him to have sat there in awe as the story unfolded before us, showed me that God had indeed answered my prayer for the day. I don't know my son's heart. And I worry that he isn't where I think he should be in a walk with God. But God assures me in the quietness of my soul, that all is well. He has everything in the palm of His hand. It will be His timing, not mine.

Today, another seed was planted. God will water it with His word. And I can only imagine where the journey will lead.

(Top photo courtesy of David Hoffman)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Birthday Letter to My Father

Dear Dad:

I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you  today. It's your birthday. I remember how much you enjoyed this day. You loved the little fuss that was made over you. The fact that Mom would bake a homemade cake, and we would place that one big candle in the middle for you to wish on. I wonder what your wishes were through the years.

 It hasn't been the same since you left us, but we are managing. I know you wouldn't want us to grieve too much, but some days are more difficult than others.

I listened to your favorite piece of music tonight after work, Dad. "The Emperor Waltz." Sometimes I can picture you dancing to it. Sometimes, I dance with you.

 I dream about you, Dad. It is so good to see you and I always wake up content, knowing that we spent a little more time together. Please visit me again soon.

Dad, my brother and son are so much like you. I can see you in them every time I talk to them. They have the qualities you passed along--a quiet strength and a good heart. I know I am a lot like you too. I find myself saying your silly phrases and it warms my heart.

I don't know how you celebrate a  birthday in Heaven, Dad. I guess it's all very different. But I can imagine who is at the party!

You were my knight in shining armor when I was little. You were the one constant in a turbulent sea. You showed strength with your simple ways and humor.

The time you spent with me when I was a child will be something I carry in my heart forever. I can remember the Crystal Radio kit we built together, the wood burning craft that made Mom worry that I might get burned. I picture us painting little miniature football players in my first electronic football game. I see you making plaster statues for me. I remember asking you questions during football games, and how you patiently answered them.

You were the best role model to my son, Dad. All the quality time you gave him when he was little, building blocks and towers for him to knock over and the crafts made out of clay. And the little plastic bowling set as you patiently set up pins and played over and over, just one more time. He was so proud of showcasing you in his YouTube videos, and his fans really loved seeing "Lamp" play. He really misses you too. And I know there are days he has a hard time. Won't you visit him in his dreams from time to time?

In closing, I want to wish you a Happy Birthday. I want to thank you from my heart for being the best man I ever knew. I want to ask you to keep us all in your heart and prayers. And give everyone a big hug from all of us.

I miss you so much, Dad. And I love you.

Your little Tenya