Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Ultimate Test of Character

informal: an odd, eccentric, or unusual person: he's quite a character.

Dad was a character, in the best sense of the word, of course. He wasn't really odd or eccentric, but he was quite a character. He loved to make people laugh and usually did not take himself to seriously. He had a fun, and very sarcastic, sense of humor. To hear him laugh again...

I remember a time when my Grandfather, who was definitely a character, got my Dad laughing so hard he was on the floor gasping for breath. His dad could do that to him, and my Dad could do that to me.

Dad was a bit quirky. He had a bunch of silly songs and funny sayings, ie. "Spam gravy ain't wavy" and the Dirty Bill song (ask me about it, I would be happy to sing it for you). He never liked to say things the right way either. This has caused some grief in my life as at the age of 37 I still say 'aminals' instead of 'animals'. And who sings the Mickey Mouse song spelling it m-i-k-c-e-y- m-o-s-o-e? That would be my Dad, he sure kept things interesting.

a person represented in a play, film, story, etc; role

Dad liked to play characters. He did some local amateur theater and always had roles in the church plays. He had an outstanding voice, deep and clear. One of his most memorable roles was in the play Pilgrims Progress. He played all the characters Christian ran into on the path to the city Beautiful. He was a cool giant!

Theater was fun for him, a hobby he never grew out of. As us girls got into theater in high-school, Dad joined right along. He built sets, ran the fly and cheered us on. He was the cool dad too, everyone loved him. He was like a kid himself and made us feel so loved spending time with us.

the combination of traits and qualities distinguishing the individual nature of a person or thing.

They say a person's true character comes out during the trials they face. Dad had character.

He was always loving, giving and hard working, but just in an average sort of way. The way of all of us sinners, sometimes good, and sometimes not so much. However, when Dad received his cancer diagnosis, his real character came out. To live well is a great accomplishment, to die well is an amazing blessing from God. God's character became reflected in my Dad.

Dad live his last year with purpose. When he was faced with a time limit on his life, he worked with diligence to accomplish the things he knew God had given him to do. He made sure Mom was taken care of, from the house and cars, to finances and support. List after list...he knew what had to be done. His character helped him have character. His ability to find humor in life, allowed him to find it in death also. This shocked some people, but those who knew him well, knew it was his character to laugh.

He died with contentment, with the thoughts of Job, should we accept good from the Lord and not bad? He never openly questioned why he had cancer, he never openly pitied himself. He just set his eyes on the prize of heaven and pressed on. He loved deeper, made every moment count, laughed more, hugged more, cared more. He showed no fear, only patience and purpose, sure of his salvation in Christ Jesus.

Dad's life was a beautiful picture of the changing power of the Holy Spirit, Dad's dying was an even more beautiful picture of the power of the Holy Spirit living inside him.

Romans 5:1-5 (personalized)
Therefore, since Steve has been justified through faith, he has peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom he has gained access by faith into this grace in which Steve now stands. And he boasts in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but he also glories in his sufferings, because he knows that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured out into Steve's heart through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 

How to have character? Have hope...

Only Jesus living inside us can give us the hope, and the character, to live well and die well.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Broken Hearts

It's the middle of the night. Dad is quiet, sedated into a peaceful sleep. I am keeping watch, a vigil in the night, trying to keep my soul alert for my Savior. I spent time reading to him, first from a book of poems he read to me many times as a child. When I was sick or sad, out would come The Bumper Book, a special bond between me and Dad. So I read our favorites, trying to bring to him the comfort those words always brought to me. Then I read the Words that give life to the soul. The Psalms, promises of the almighty. Our ultimate comfort can only come from the living God of comfort. I am feeling so small, so helpless, so different from the other side of the bed I am usually on. Being the nurse is so much easier than being the daughter. And letting God be God, is harder than anything. Realizing that although we have decisions to make, we are not really in control. My soul is trying to hold to the amazing freedom in that. My heart is tearing away, ripping in the most painful way, from the heart of my earthly father. But in the still of the night, the Savior whispers to my heart... "Though your heart and your flesh may fail Andrea, I am the strength of your heart and your portion forever." -Psalm 73:26, personalized So I will rest and be still and open. And the Savior will save...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Questions in the Night

It is late, late in the evening and late in a life. I sit here by my dad's hospital bed, someplace I never thought I would be again. The tears come in waves. The thoughts, prayers and Bible verses come and go, haltingly, as I grasp for some comfort, some hope. It wasn't supposed to be like this, and we had talked about it. We knew about the cancer, we talked about hospice, but not about this. Not about a sudden panic, a red face, doctors, ambulances, CPR...the nightmare. I sit here, as a nurse, and know too much. And yet, as a daughter, I don't know enough. I stroke his head, kiss his brow, tell him that I am sorry, tell him it wasn't supposed to be like this. When he wakes, if he wakes, will he forgive me? He never wanted this, not this way.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A year of purposeful contentment

A word for the year, a new year, perhaps a year where I turn a bit more intentional about life.

I try to take in the lessons God gives me from so many places. The Word, a note, a sermon, a friend, even my children. All these things to focus on, to work on in my life. Isn't that what it is all about, becoming more like Christ? But then life happens, it just happens. Even if I just sit there and try to think about something God is teaching me, life is still happening all around me. It won't stop for me, I'll just loose more time to do it...whatever it is.

How am I to plan this then? Can you plan the movement of the Spirit in your soul? Can the lesson wait until I have time to think on it? Not when the children are calling and laundry is piling and dust is settling in (and growing). Not when the sacred moments are so often the unplanned moments, a smile, a comment, a thought like a breeze, a glimps of real life.

I wrestle with contentment in these things. If I had more time to teach them, to hold him, to clean that or fix this; to fix me. If I didn't have to work, if we could have learned to live on less, make a different choice, have a different dream...dismiss a calling. Oh, God sighs at my wrestling sometimes...

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
Isaiah 30:14-16

Salvation through rest? Growing closer to God while being quiet? Contentment in where I am, trust for where I am going...

"Contentment isn't a state of organization, a weight on the scale, a state of better: better kids, better marriage, better health, better house. Contentment is never a matter of circumstances; contentment is always a state of communion — a daily embracing of God. A thankfulness for all the gifts – and moments and life, just as He gives it. Trying harder may only bring harder trials and contentment, it won’t be be found in the resolutions, but in the revolutions – in the turning round to God." -Ann Voskamp

Trying harder may only bring harder trials...

So the year is purposeful contentment, purposeful rest, purposeful quietness. It may be that God will work out in me what is best for me, when I quit trying to grasp a fleeting moment of inspiration and just love the feel of it across my soul.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Heroes

Heroes are a big deal these days. Everyone wants to be one, or to have one at least. We ask our children who their heroes are, who they want to be like when they grow up.

I have thought, in the past, who is a hero to me? I admit that there have been times when a person of fame or position has caught my attention.

The problem I see is that we have lost the true meaning of what it is to be a hero. And with that we have set our sites, and our children's, on things that just don't matter, on qualities that are more like passing fancies than character building.


noun, plural -roes; for 5 also -ros.
a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
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I have new heroes lately. Men of courage, brave mighty men.

They face uncertain futures, suffering, grief, loss, injustice, pain and disappointment with an attitude of thanksgiving, acceptance.

One more surgery, one more chemo. One more day of nausea and one more sleepless night. One more missed game, more laughter and stares from other children.

They have no understanding of why they suffer and they no know secret to the mysteries of life. They are the very young, and the very wise.

Somehow, I see that they walk a little closer to God than I do though. Maybe because they have too, or maybe they just know that is the best place to be.

They keep moving, keep believing, keep breathing. He is just learning about life and not letting the pain color his opinions. He is choosing to really live, even while slowly dying. They are submitting to a plan, not of their own choosing, but of faith in their Father.

Maybe that is a real hero; someone who submits to the plan of their Father. A heavenly Father who is more certain, more just, more glorious, more courageous and more noble than any of us.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:1-2

Monday, August 8, 2011

How Beautiful

Feet are not usually considered a beautiful thing in any culture. However, following in the footsteps of someone wise and wonderful is always a good thing. As my children get to know their grandparents more, I pray they would follow in their footsteps. That they would learn from them to love the Lord, to be generous, to laugh, to be loyal, to pray hard and work hard. To love family more than self, to share the gospel in actions and words wherever they go.
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Our God reigns!'" Isaiah 52:7

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Friday, July 22, 2011


"When will I be 9 Mama?" Hannah asks. "I can't wait any longer!"

Life is fast these days. We talk about how fast the months and years go by, how fast the kids grow. We like life fast; fast food, fast Internet, fast service-no waiting. We want everything now.

I can be a lot like that. I want tomorrow so I can do this or that, I want the kids to go through one phase or another. I fly through my days not even realizing what I did, what I ate, what I thought, how I lived.

Little faces of my beloved children ask how much longer-to the restaurant, to the park, to their next birthday. Heavy sighs come, to long, can't wait any longer!

Looking back, some things came slowly. A little longer nap, a little less food, a few shallow breaths. Why so slow that we didn't notice?

Why are we so caught in the rush of life that we don't see the creeping of death?

Time goes to fast, and it needs to slow down. We don't know how much time we have left with him, a month, a year, a day? It won't be enough time. I am trying to stop ticking off the days in an endless blur of movement. How do I stop the moments to make them lasting memories? I focus on making the pictures of real life stay in my head.

Life has seasons, times, changes.

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.

How do I learn to laugh and dance in a season of mourning? If I slow down, will I see the moments, the miracles in the flying of time? I need to catch the real living in the time of dying, the gradual decline. To really see the last things, the first times, the sweetness of love and laughter.

To savor the sacred moments of life.

God fills every day with holy, sacred moments. These are the real living, the things that will last through the declining.