Faith, family, Uncategorized

Looking Through Kid-Goggles

flower-line

Years ago, my young son and I attended the funeral of a lovely, young cousin, who was taken from her family far too soon.

 

Her funeral service was one of the first I had ever attended which struck me more as a celebration of who she was and the impact her life had left on all those who knew her. The atmosphere was uplifting and the center stage was adorned with her picture and several clusters of balloons. Among the tears and sadness, there was laughter and smiles and love, because that is the kind of young woman she was.

pexels-photo-221361

My son was about 7 or 8 years of age at this time, and we sat waiting for the service to begin, amongst the many, many people who had come that day.

 

My son tapped me on the arm and quietly asked, “Mom, why are there smiley faces on all those balloons?”

 

I turned my gaze toward the stage, and much to my surprise, there were indeed smiley faces on each and every one of those balloons, as the helium-filled spheres stood tall and proud, radiating the room with their happiness! The lights in the room had reflected in such a way, that a bright, shiny smile landed perfectly on every balloon, as if they were sharing the same bright, full-of-life smile with which this young person had won the hearts of all those who loved her.

pexels-photo-343720

 

 

Talk about a new perspective! 

 

 

Previously, my eyes simply saw a display of colored balloons. But my little boy, whose eyes still saw the world through his innocent, untarnished scope, saw smiley faces!

 

My mind and my heart were instantly stirred with this new view. I could no longer look at the balloons and just see balloons. Every time I looked, there they were. Smiley faces! 

 

I silently thanked God for this wonderful gift, which imparted a new sense of peace on this celebration of life. After the service, we were given index cards on which to share a special memory of this beautiful young woman. I wrote down this unnoticed moment, hoping it would bring a little bit of joy to her family.
flower-line

Perhaps no one else in that entire room saw the reflections of light at just that precise angle in order to notice the smiley faces.

 

Or perhaps, their eyes, like mine, could no longer easily discern this childlike viewpoint. Just like in the beloved tale of Peter Pan, by the time that coveted objective of adulthood is attained, the magic of childhood imagination becomes clouded with the cares and woes of life.

 

God surely knew this about mankind, as He found it note-worthy enough to include a reminder in His written Word, imploring His followers to be mindful of their perspective on the kingdom of heaven.

“People were bringing children to Him so that He would touch and bless them, but the disciples reprimanded them and discouraged them [from coming].  But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and He said to them, “Allow the children to come to Me; do not forbid them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whoever does not receive and welcome the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”  And He took the children [one by one] in His arms and blessed them [with kind, encouraging words], placing His hands on them.

Mark 10:13-16 (AMP)

img_3970

We as adults sometimes think we have it all figured out… and some days, we find out in the most humbling way that we indeed have a lot left to learn about life. So many things skew our perspective and filter it all in the most unpleasant ways.

img_3969

 

 

 

 

May each of us learn to take a step back, set aside the political, social and pre-set ideals of what it all should look like, and put on our ‘kid goggles‘. 

Advertisements
Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Remembering God’s Assuring Love

 

img_2494

 

In this society which seems to be imploding with division and blind contention, I cling to the comfort I find in Christ Jesus, in knowing who God is.

 

This chapter of Psalm reads as if it were written only recently, its words so descriptive of modern day humanity.

sailing-ship-vessel-boat-sea-37859

The highlighted portion of this text is what I hope to leave foremost in your hearts today. For though the first few verses of this chapter describe a scene of hopelessness and a plot in which evil wins, the message of God’s love toward those whose hope is in Him comes shining through!

pexels-photo-722664

 

As a ship lost in the overwhelming storms of the sea, those onboard finally seeing a guiding light beam through the darkest sky, finding new strength which springs forth from within them, and they feel renewed determination to hold on and fight the good fight.

 

   “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

 

“I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
  In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
  The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
  Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.
  Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
  Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
  How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
  They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
  For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
  Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
  May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
  See how the evildoers lie fallen—
thrown down, not able to rise!”

Psalm 36

 

Find comfort, my friends, in this declaration of God’s unfailing love! I pray that your hearts are bathed in it until it saturates every part of your soul with His perfect peace!

border6-e1500506035606.png

Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Different Portrait of Father’s Day

As we celebrate Father’s Day, I cannot help but think about what that means to me. Like many of you, the portrait of Father’s Day, for me, looks different from the heartwarming pictures we see on social media or on television and advertising. Most parents have some of those moments of perfect parenthood and we wish it could always be that way and that all of our children’s memories of us would be full of happiness and joy.

 

If you can look at those perfect pictures and say “that’s what it was like for me!”, I am so happy for you! What a wonderful gift! However, my picture just looked different.

My intention for sharing these thoughts are not to paint a dishonorable image of my Dad.  I loved my Dad very, very much. There is not one perfect parent, be it mother or father, who can boast of a mistake-free, picture-perfect run at parenthood. Not one.

 

Rather, my wish in this is that the message of redemption sinks deep into the hearts of all those who still ache with regret, and who re-live in their minds all the ‘what if’s’.

 

Everyone has their own portrait of fatherhood, painted with their own experiences, losses, relationships, and perspective. I am so sorry if the thought of that stings your heart. I fully understand that for many, the memories are wrought with pain and indifference. Those hurts are some of the hardest to heal, but I know that God is able to do just that, for He has eased the sting in my own heart.

leafy-vine

My father made choices which separated him from his children. I have to believe that in the 40 years that he was away from us, that he too, contemplated the ‘what if’s’ at least a time or two. And even still, I always loved him.

 

During those years, life went on for us, and for him. I don’t believe it was ever in God’s plan for families to be separated. He knows how important both mothers and fathers are in the roles He created. But even though circumstances and sin bring corruption, God loves us so much that He brings beauty from the remaining ashes.

 

In spite of the choices that were made, God gave us a good life here. I was happy, healthy, and I had my family surrounding me and we loved one another. God was always there and we made it through.

 

The very beginning of my portrait of fatherhood wasn’t nice to look at. There was no indication of beauty or promise.  But you see, in the end, that plain, ugly canvas became a lovely picture. Not perfect, and not the stuff dreams are made of, but beautiful just the same. Because when God adds His touch of redemption to the portrait, it becomes a work of art. 

img_3731

 

In the last 15 years or so of his life, my Dad chose to move to Washington to be near us. We made new memories, shared life together, some of our children were able to know their Grandpa from the very start. They will always remember when Grandpa played Santa Claus, and the times he made them feel special.

 

 

dfb9e74f-0765-42d6-ab81-a1537a9854d1

Some of our most special times were when we sang together as a family, and in music ministry. The years we shared with him were a blessing to us, and to him, and brought some needed restoration.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

 

None of us could go back and re-do the past, not even my Dad.  Though that loss was something each of us would have to grieve in our own way, and never would we be able to have the kind of relationship with him that many others have had with their fathers, we were given enough time to paint a different kind of picture. It would never be the ‘perfect one’, but it would be ours. It was a gift, and in the end, it became a portrait of God’s redemptive love.

img_3952

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

img_3951

Whether you are the child who still aches for something you never had, or the father who carries the weight of regrets, know that it is never too late to seek redemption and forgiveness.  Some things can’t be erased and undone, and there will come a time when you will have to uncover those hurts, feel the sting, and allow healing to take place. It will be hard, but it will be ok.

Then, pick up that paintbrush, and begin to add beauty and color to your picture.