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, Living Life, Uncategorized

Clothed in Splendor

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The clematis vine I planted last year has grown more than I could have imagined  and this spring, showcased a remarkable amount of blooms.

 

As you can see, it has settled quite nicely in its home under the pergola. In fact, I love it so much, I’m going to plant another one of a different color.

 

As I thought of a friend of mine who is struggling with health issues, a passage of scripture came to my mind, which immediately made me realize that this simple yet elegant flowering vine not only gifts me with its beauty, but also with an important lesson about life.

 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

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I know it is not in the best interest of anyone to worry excessively. There is enough scientific evidence now to confirm that the stress of worrying is not good for our bodies or minds.

 

But life is full of ups and downs, trials and conflicts, enough to at least bring concern to our minds now and then. I don’t believe that is any surprise to God. He told us these times would come and to hold fast to the words which He spoke.

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This passage of scripture is full of assurance and encouragement, and I find much comfort in it.

Because when I look at that little flower on the vine, I see that my God put so much care and thought into the intricate design of each part of it, shaped it just so, and used His imagination to decorate it with brilliant color.

And as He stated in His words,  if He would take such care to dress the field flowers so beautifully, and water them with the dew, will He not make sure that I am cared for also?

 

Sure, times of concern will come. Circumstances will sometimes feel overwhelming. I will even admit that sometimes worry overtakes my thoughts and weighs heavy on my mind.

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In times such as these, this scripture is a reminder to keep our eyes on God, to continue to seek Him, to press in closer to Him, where we will find strength and comfort, peace and wisdom.

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And one more thing about my beautiful, flowering vine… I know that when He was creating it, He had me in mind, knowing that when my eyes behold its beauty, it would remind me of Him and bring warmth and delight to my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith, family, Uncategorized

An Open Letter to my Children

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As parents, one of the assumed goals, or perhaps an expected conclusion to one’s earthly lifespan, is to have an estate of earthly wealth to leave to your heirs, an inheritance consisting of the culmination of the parents’ material possessions, monetary wealth, and other items of value or heritage. What a grand finale to one’s life, a testimony to the hard work and perseverance of the parent, and a testament for the child of the parents’ thought and care in putting this gift aside for them.

 

It’s an ideal and worthy goal, though not all parents have the means to provide such a generous inheritance.

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As for my own children, I have some bad news and some good news….

Though I wouldn’t say we have lived a life of poverty by any means, neither have we consistently had the easy road to financial success. Had we used more wisdom in planning for the future, perhaps things would be different now. As they say, it is what it is!

 

So, I’m sorry my dear ones, I cannot offer you or even promise you any earthly inheritance of wealth, prestige, or fame. I cannot give you that which I do not have. To my knowledge, there are no well-to-do ancestors in our family history, and if there are, I doubt their money trail will ever lead to our door. As far as material possessions, well, you know how much I love thrift stores! Most of what is in our home is 2nd hand, well used, and aside from a few pieces of vintage cabinetry, offers very little in monetary value. However, if you hold dear to sentiment as I do, you will find many priceless treasures.

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But if it is wealth, prestige and power that you long for, there is another path which holds more promise and satisfaction. It is the one carved out by you alone.

 

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It is the one which bears the manifestations from your own efforts, your own hard work and determination. You will decide what it looks like, and you will determine where it will lead. Your name will be printed on the road sign and the story it tells will be your very own.

 

As you go along, you may occasionally look behind you to see how far you’ve come. It will be a familiar sight, marked with evidence of your hard work and victories, your struggles and regrets, your sacrifices, and, no doubt, your rewards, also.

 

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Undoubtedly, you will notice some bumps in the road. Those were likely the life issues that threatened your journey with distraction or circumstance. You held on and with your eyes fixed forward, you navigated over and around them.

 

You also see the smoother areas of the path. Aww, those were good times… happy times! Life was good and you found joy in the little things. You held your head high and didn’t even have to look down to watch the road. With momentum going strong and steady, you breezed along easily.

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But you also notice, there are some pretty deep potholes.  In fact, you fell into some of those, got a few bruises and still bear some scars, too. They bring some painful memories to mind, and it hurts to think about them. But here’s the thing about those deeper holes. There’s a good ledge there on which to get a good foothold and lift yourself up and out. You found new strength that you didn’t have before, brushed yourself off, and once again, started moving forward. There you go, you got this!

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You didn’t know life would be so hard sometimes, but you also didn’t know how strong you could be. Cutting in those new paths takes strength, focus, and endurance.

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You’re just starting out now, and don’t know yet just where your path will lead. But wherever your destination may be, be sure to enjoy the journey along the way, for before you know it, the time will pass and you will wonder where it all went.

 

Though I hope for you a life filled with successes and financial ease, there is something I want you to remember:  Success isn’t always measured by a person’s level of education or their career accomplishments, and the value of material possessions and financial security isn’t always defined by a dollar amount or the balance in one’s bank account. Rather, true wealth is made up of the people who surround you, the relationships you have cultivated, your service to others, and the love and compassion which permeates throughout your life. And true riches is not measured in dollars, but instead is made up of the heavenly treasure which you have stored in your eternal bank account.

 

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 19-21

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One more thing…. this journey should not be taken alone. For though you do not know what is ahead, there is One who does. Allow Him to guide and help navigate your way. When those difficult times come in your journey, turn to your Savior Jesus Christ, who knows the end of your story and who will walk along side of you every step of the way if you ask Him to.

 

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

 

This is for you, my most prized treasure:

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With love,  Mom