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.

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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. 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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“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

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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.

 

 

 

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Faith, family, Uncategorized

The Day I Said Goodbye to My Sister-Revisited

img_3822Image may contain: 1 person, hat, closeup and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, hat, closeup and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, hat, closeup and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, hat, closeup and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, hat, closeup and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, hat, closeup and outdoorIt’s been 9 years since my family lost our sister. She battled with her disease for many, many years, until that day when she succumbed to medical complications. We miss her.

 

It is this story which inspired me to begin this blog about one year ago, igniting a love for writing that I didn’t know I had within me.

 

So, during this anniversary month for both of these, I’m re-sharing this glimpse into the day that we all said goodbye to Cynthia, my sister.

 

See the source image

May is Lupus Awareness Month

To learn more about this disease, visit:

Lupus Foundation of America

 

 

 

Originally published on May 25, 2017:

I was at work on Thursday in May of 2009 when I received the call. Cynthia was at the hospital and it didn’t look good. She was in bad shape and it was time to call the family in. I immediately left for Yakima, where she had been taken.

 

It wasn’t the first time we had been afraid we would lose her. In all the many years in which she battled chronic, debilitating illness, there were a couple times that I made that dreaded drive, worried that I would have to say my goodbyes, but praying all along the way that God would spare her and bring her through. And He did.

 
But this time was different. There was urgency in this call. So I went and it was not good.
Other family members were already there with her, my sisters, my Mom. It was a troubling sight, seeing her struggling for life. Little was to be done.

 

She was admitted to a room and as the day wore on, the family gathered and waited. It was a harsh reality, a first for our family. Being from a large, very close family of 8 siblings, and later, many foster children who we called brothers and sisters, we certainly had our share of tragedy and troubles, but we had not lost one of our 8. We were all heartbroken.

 

The atmosphere was quiet, but even in this time of grief and waiting for an end we were not ready to see come, my wonderful family found comfort in being there together, still finding little things which held some remnant of joy. We all sat in vigil through the night. Medication had quieted our dear sister, but the expected outcome did not change.

 
After a long, restless night, Friday came and we continued waiting through the morning. All of my siblings who lived in the area were there, their spouses, some of my nieces and nephews, my Mother and my Dad.
Later in the morning, there were some ever so subtle signs that maybe again, Cynthia was going to pull through. Small, faint signs of hope.
So in light of that, some of us went home for a while to rest.

 

When I got to my home in Prosser, and because I felt a deep sense of peace, my husband, children and I decided to go to town, in the opposite direction from where my sister and family were. I can’t say why I felt that way, because Cynthia was still in the hospital and certainly not well at all, but I felt like it was ok to go.

 

We had something to eat, and was at Walmart shopping, when I got a call from my sister Gwen. “Robin, you need to come. It won’t be long.”
A deep urgency hit me and I knew we had to go NOW!

 
Oh, why did I go to town?! Why did I feel like I should go an extra 25-30 miles away from where Cynthia was? I knew I would be pushing it. I had to go all the way back to Prosser, drop off Andy and the kids (we lived 5 miles outside of town), then drive another 35-40 miles to Yakima, and across the city to the hospital.

 

Praying all the way, I left Prosser, got on the freeway and pushed the speedometer as far as I dared, knowing that getting pulled over would only lengthen the already pressed time it was going to take to get there.

 

I prayed out loud all the way, crying, begging God to literally make time slow down so I could get there before she passed! I wanted to be there, I knew everyone was there. My family! This is what we do! We gather together for each other!

 
I listened to Christian music cd’s the whole way, just trying to breathe through my weeping and focus on driving safely and getting there!
Then, as I approached Yakima…..God gave me a gift.

 

About 8 minutes before I got to the hospital, I heard a song on the cd and the lyrics caught my heart. It went like this:

 

I hear music, no one’s singing
No one’s playing, I hear music

 

I am dancing, in the stillness
In the silence, I hear music

 

I hear music, no one’s singing
No one’s playing, I hear music

 

I am resting, in the stillness
In the silence, I hear music

 

Carried on the wings of Your Spirit
Bowing at Your holy feet
The symphony of worship, now I hear it
Waves of peace are washing over me
Your tenderness unspeakably sweet

 

I am singing, deep within me
You sing with me, I hear music

 

In the stillness, in the silence
In Your presence, I hear music

 

By Allen Asbury “I Hear Music”

I Hear Music
You can find this song online and I highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful song.

 
When I finally pulled into the hospital parking lot, my heart beat faster than ever. I just had to take the elevator up to her room, and hopefully, I won’t be too late.
But as I approached the elevator door, a family member stood there and said she had passed away. No!! I didn’t make it! My heart sunk with regret!

 

I went upstairs and entered a solemn room. As the many members of my family were there trying to come to terms with this first-time-felt loss, my other sisters were gathered around her bed in the quiet moments following her passing.

 

Cynthia, my sister, who had suffered through so much in her short 53 years here, and through it all, always held her child-like love for Jesus, was now with Him. Her once contorted, crippled hands now lay so softly, as I took them into my own and said goodbye. We always knew that someday, this time would come. But today was that day.

 
I grieved the loss of my sister, but also was heartbroken that I was not there. Everyone was there, except for me. I didn’t understand why and I struggled with that for a long time until someone later helped me understand that maybe God had a reason for keeping me away, that it was for my benefit. Maybe it would have been too difficult for me. I don’t know, but I couldn’t, and cannot, change the way it happened. I trust that God knew what I did not.

 

But I do believe with all my heart, that at the moment Cynthia entered into heaven and met her Jesus face to face, this specific song played for me to hear. The time it played and the time she died coincided, and I felt that God allowed me to share in that moment in a different way.

 

As I heard the tender lyrics, I knew. Go back and read them again. Can’t you just picture it?! This song is about someone who is ever so gently leaving this earthly life and is entering into the presence of God! Carried by His Spirit! Bowing before His feet! Heaven standing still in silence because one of God’s children has come home! And it is so quiet that all you can hear is the music of heaven, and it sounds like a symphony!

 
So even though I did not stand by Cynthia’s bedside as she left this world, I felt it in my heart as I heard these words.

 
A precious gift. An everlasting consolation, until we meet again my dear sister.

Faith, family, Uncategorized

Our Unexpected Detour

We had just departed from my older brother’s home in Oregon, after spending a few days visiting him and his wife. It had been a great time, as usual, but we were ready to head for home, and we were only a few hours from our destination.

 
We had borrowed my Mother-in-law’s motor home, an older, open-designed model, with a nice, comfy couch located directly behind the driver’s seat. This is where I sat as we made our way down the highway.

 

 

I brought along some journals, one of which I had been writing in periodically since the beginning of our marriage. As it often goes, there were more entries from the earlier years of our lives than the more recent ones. Included were details about our first-born daughter, Melinda. Memories of her infancy, toddler-hood, and many of her first words and such.

 
I had also started journals for my other children, Michael, who was about 11 at that time, and 1 & 1/2 year old Marty. I thought the long drive would give me a chance to jot down more cherished memories.

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We left LaPine before noon, stopping in a neighboring town to top-off the large gas tank before resuming the long drive home.

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Andy drove, of course, with Marty seated next to him, buckled into his car seat in the front passenger seat. Melinda and Michael were enjoying the ride in the bedroom, which was located at the very rear of the motor home.

 

 
Less than 10 miles from where we had stopped for fuel, as we rounded a curve in the highway, the front tire of the driver’s side blew without warning.

 
I’m thankful for the good driving skills of my husband, for he was able to keep control of the motor home, as he carefully pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder.

 
As we came to a stop, smoke was billowing up from under the driver’s seat, and into the interior of the motor home, quickly becoming thicker and darker. Andy said, “Get out!”

 
I dropped everything, yelled to Melinda and Michael to come on and grabbed my baby out of his car seat while trying to stay calm. Andy struggled for a few seconds to get the latch on the old door to come free, and Melinda said, “Open it, Dad!”

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By the time we all got out the door and began walking away from the motor home, the driver’s side was engulfed in flames. By the time we were a good safe distance away, looking back at the peril from which we had escaped, the entire motor home was an inferno.

 
The thick, black smoke smothered both lanes of the highway, with the fire so intense it literally melted the asphalt beneath it, and ignited the dry brush along the roadway.

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Kind witnesses of our distress stopped to see if we were okay, as the kids and I stood crying and in shock, watching the motor home be reduced to nothing more than the frame it was built on. The only thing that survived the blaze was a pair of cast-iron wall hooks which I had purchased at an antique store. One good Samaritan literally gave Melinda the shoes off her feet.

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We left the motor home with absolutely nothing. The irreplaceable journals, my purse, phones, baby supplies, identification. Nothing. I had packed some of our best blankets on the motor home, including the wedding-ring quilt which I had pieced, crafted, and hand-quilted myself….. It was all gone.

 

After the fire was out and all the legalities were taken care of, a local man who had extinguished the brush fire took us to his home, where he and his wife extended open arms and warm hospitality at what we had just endured. We quickly came to realize that they were fellow Christians, and he was a singing cowboy for Jesus, no less! God-sent is how we would describe them.

 

 
They drove us to a quaint, near-by town, where we waited for friends to come take us home.

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Even though we were all okay and extremely thankful to have come out of the ordeal unscathed, the effort to process what had happened, and the numbness we felt from the traumatic events, was still with us well into the evening. In fact, all the children slept in our bedroom that night. We just needed to be together.

 

 
Sometimes, my mind plays out the other possible outcome. The more I think about it, the more frightened I get, but I remind myself that we were not alone that day.
There was one more passenger with us…Jesus.