Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Just like that. Two disparate pieces of information combined in her brain with no apparent prompting. I love those little peeks inside of her brain.
The singing had started and I barely had time to say, "A very long time." I know she is at the age where she is really starting to process a lot of information which has been "over her head" so I will probably go back and build on that answer...I just wanted to record it here and note that every once in awhile our kiddos stop being the cared for and seek to be the caretakers.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
My plan for her whole (8 year) life has been to model for her how to "look on the bright side" and "think positively." I tend to NOT be one of those people who automatically looks on the bright side but rather, have been accused of "worrying too much." That has not done much to make me a better person so, of course, I want to give my daughter the gift of seeing life differently. Over and over I have stifled my instinctive response in her presence and put a positive spin on whatever is happening at the moment.
Now, I also did not want to create a Pollyanna. Exchanging the delusion that everything is "bad" with the delusion that everything is "good" is no gift. I have worked to be realistic. I have found myself looking for and pointing out the "but at leasts."
Every once in awhile it seems as if my plan has crashed and burned...Dora is quite the dramatic when things are not going her way. But I try to hang on and have faith in the human spirit.
This morning I realized that the heater in my car is not working. Dora was quite interested in this and suggested I try this and that with the switches. At one point repeating something I know she hears from me frequently, "Well, let's give it some more time." Finally, when it was clear after 10 min. that the air was no warmer coming out of the vents she said in her best official sounding tone, "Well, that's ok, it's not TOO cold (it was 40). I'll bet it can be fixed."
I had to agree with a big knowing smile, "You're right Dora Diane, we'll get it fixed soon. And we are, after all, the 'Cold Team.'"
More on "Teams" later. But you know, it really is great to see a good plan come together. Now to work on the "Stay away from boys until you're 28" plan.
And an aside, my good friend just hit a "number of blog follower's milestone," and so did I! I broke 10. Thank you to everyone who follows! I appreciate your interest and hope that every once in awhile, you get a smile out of it.
Monday, October 5, 2009
She has Tiger with her, in his school hiding place in her backpack, so that made her smile.
Boy did we have some clashes this weekend though. So hard being so strong for her...I've realized that the strength I use to love her and play with her must be applied as well to disciplining her. It takes a special kind of strength to listen to her cry, close (slam) the door, and tell me to "go away" after I have sent her to her room.
She took the family for a walk last night after her 3 hour nap. Something we never would have done of our own accord. It was wonderful, the weather was perfect...and she only almost fell off of her razor scooter twice!
Hope you are having a GREAT day at school little one.
Monday, September 28, 2009
As I have continued to think about my earlier post on prayer, I realized that the line between praying and wishing is sometimes blurred; which possibly means that the line between a God who answers prayers and a genie who grants wishes has become blurred as well.
I know for a fact that, depending on my situation and my perspective, my view get’s blurry. In fact, I get angry when God doesn’t behave like a genie who answers my prayers on command. If my own personal genie refused to grant my wishes, I’d tell him to get back in his darn bottle and stay there.
Come to think of it, I’ve done the same with God. “Well if you’re not going to change this situation then you can just get back in the bible and stay there. I’m not going to believe in you anymore. I don’t neeeed you anyway.” (childish sarcasm too often mine).
I thought of another crowd by the way (see “Three’s a Crowd" blog below). It’s the crowd my mother told me about a long, long time ago. The “God always answers prayers, He just answers them in three possible ways, ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Wait.’ crowd.” I don’t know if it’s because she told me about it or if it’s because I STILL don’t like to be told “No,” especially when I am as old and wise (smirk) as I am now; but I really resist that crowd.
All I have is a model:
Once, there was another really good guy (actually he was perfect) who prayed a prayer and asked to be “given a pass.” God said "no" and the guy was beaten to a pulp and tortured to death. (Death by hanging on a cross from the nails in your hands makes water-boarding look like a soothing sponge bath.) God’s own Son said (and I paraphrase) “PLEASE Daddy, I don't want to die like this! Can't You fix it another way?” And God looked at His only Son, who had lived a perfect life, and He said, “No.”
How I hate them, how they infuriate me, how I suffer for them but every once in awhile, I have to thank God for His “no’s,” especially that one.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I don't know if I can ever adequately express what this one human being meant to my life. I could say that I owe nearly every good quality that I possess today to her patience and unconditional love for me...but that is too wordy...for me, I believe I have found the closest I can come:
Some people believe that the streets of heaven are paved with gold. Some say we will have wings and harps. I used to think it would be cool if we would be able to play video games all day long. At the ripe old age of 42, I want to make the following offer...
If I get to choose ANYthing for my stay in heaven...I would choose to live in my Grandma Retta's house, with her, as I experienced my time with her during the summers of my youth. Just return me to the smells, the sounds, the sights, and most of all, the feeling of complete unconditional acceptance. That is enough. I don't have to fly, or play the harp, or ever see a video game again. Just let me walk through the door, sound the bells, and hear the clank of the glass as the floor vibrates with every step.
And God, I really, really disagree with you for disallowing my daughter to experience the joy of grandparents. I think that was wrong......................I know it is wrong. I know You do too. Please allow me to make up for that lack.
I pray she can get a small glimpse of the love I experienced from my Grandma through the love she experiences from me.
Maybe someday, when we are forever together, we can share my Grandma Retta.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
That's how my Mom always did it. Then we would do "God bless ______, God bless _____, etc..." It's important to me that I start that way, though there are some who frown on "programmed prayer" or prayers that are the same every day. We move on from there though; praying for him or her, this or that, etc. Each of us take our turns and Dora closes it out, always signaling the time to say "In Jesus name..." in unison by making her incredibly unique and, I believe noteworthy final prayer that I hope some day will sell some books when I expound upon it so I'm not going to share it here since SO many people read this blog that it might be borrowed......
I know Dora Diane believes that I believe that God listens, hears and acts upon those prayers. Unfettered by adult skepticism born of "unanswered" prayers, humanistic indoctrination, etc...she has no doubt that if Daddy prays it, it will be done...if God decides to do it.
I do too. And therein lies the reason for so much doubt and disbelief in the world; that last little disclaimer..."If God decides to do it." Imagine if God actually answered all the prayers of the faithful. Who would dare to disbelieve?
Joe Johnson's car breaks down by the side of the road. He prays, "Dear God, please let my car start"...and it starts. Sally has a horrible headache and prays, "Dear God, please let my headache be gone." and it goes away. Fred's mother is diagnosed with H1N1 flu, ends up in the hospital and all of a sudden, someone realizes that they forgot to pray, says a quick fervent prayer and, Mom sits up, smiles, and says it's time to go home.
If it worked that way, the way most of us probably secretly believe we would run it if we were God, hospitals would not exist. There would be no need for heart transplants or chemotherapy. No cancer, no hemophilia, no blindness, no hearing problems, no tumors, no need for hospitalization for baby delivery because there would be no birth complications...
And there would be no crime. No murders, muggings, no abductions, no theft; prisons would not exist, rehab would be a thing of the past. For, if there was a crime, the victim would pray that it not happen, and it would be thwarted, then the criminal would notice the miraculous thwarting and give up a life of crime in favor of praying for a job, which he would get.
And his job would be a "good" job with a nice boss who lets him take as much vacation time as possible, which would be ok because the job would be really easy because no one would really have problems. I doubt we would really need banks, because no one would need loans because everyone would have plenty of money. In fact, everyone would win the lottery...but there would really be no lottery because no one would be attracted to it in the first place because no one would suffer from a feeling of want.
This would equalize everyone. If Steve makes $500,000 a year then I don't think, if I could pray for what I want, that I would really settle for less. We would all make $500,000 a year...unless we needed more for a big LCD HD TV...which I would.
But...it doesn't work that way. God is God, not me.
There begins the problem.
Why doesn't it work that way? Impracticality aside, why don't "good" people live easier lives than "bad" people? Is healing a person of a disease really more difficult or more impractical than creating that person in the first place? When Jesus was physically on earth, he did a lot of amazing things. Including healing and raising from the dead....so we know it is possible.
I think it is interesting to note how many different ways great thinkers have worked to reconcile the problem of believing in an all powerful, all knowing, all good God in a world with wars, poverty, famine, plague, murder, disease, and computer crashes.
1) The "If you are suffering it is because the Lord is punishing/testing/tempering you crowd.
2) The "If you pray and it doesn't happen then you don't have enough faith" crowd.
3) The "Suffering is important and necessary for growth" crowd.
4) The "Suffering is really blessing because God gives the suffering so you can avoid worse suffering down the line" crowd.
5) The "God is good, and God is all knowing, He just isn't all powerful" crowd.
6) The "Suffering is allowed so that through it God may be glorified" crowd.
7) The "Prayer is not for God anyway, it is for me...God already knows what we want - and need" crowd.
8) The "Because there the bad stuff exists in the world, there can not be a God" crowd.
9) The "The bad stuff comes from the Satan, who is prince of this world." crowd.
10) The "I don't know but let's not talk about this because it may cause some suffering" crowd.
(Forgive me if I left out a crowd.)
Now by no means do I mean any disrespect by calling people crowds...I have been and am a member of several of those crowds myself. I'd like to talk more about it in another post.
For now, I will keep praying and I will marvel at my little girls prayers. Her faith "like a child" is certainly beautiful.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
I would never do that for our own room. We haven't even thought of it. But since it is my little ones...hey, we are willing to spend the time and effort.
I have noticed that I am not one of those who likes to share tasks. I kind of want it done my way and would rather do it all myself. Ask my daughter if that is the way she likes to do things. NO. She feels that we should all be in there together, the three of us, painting. I love having her there...but she tends to get paint places that I do not want paint.
I have been really good for the most part...only barking at her a couple of times...but still. I recognize that actually, SHE is right, and I am wrong (of course). We are painting our child's room. OF COURSE it should be a family affair. OF COURSE we should be doing it together, and OF COURSE we should get paint in our hair, on our hands and feet, etc. That's what makes it memorable, that's what makes us family.
I once heard a speaker note that he looked forward to the problems encountered on a family vacation almost as much as the vacation itself. We are crisis driven people who would get bored without the flat tires, the lost room keys, the blisters, etc. Not to mention, those difficulties force the family to work together...and reveal the hidden strengths within each member.
My daughter has the gift of mercy (unless I've told her "no" or otherwise upset her...then, she's ruthless). Every drip, every mis-step and I can be sure she will chime in giving me an excuse ("Well, you didn't mean to daddy. Every body drops their paint brush sometimes.")
My wife on the other hand just grins and remembers all my warnings to her and my daughter to "Be careful, or else you'll get paint on that."
And by the way, the paint was on MY foot.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
What kind of a world...
I HATE that a child has to even THINK this thought...much less know anyone who has had to deal with this tragic occurrence in their life. Much less, MY child. I want to protect her from all of these things. And to think that MY life has led to some of her questions? Well that's just sick.
Talking with her revealed that she is not overwhelmed with the thought...just morbidly curious. Oh course we all do that on occasion:
"What would happen if I lose my job?"
"What would happen if I lost my house?"
"What would happen if I lost my spouse?"
"What would happen if I got a disease?"
"What if I lose my sense of sight?"
"What if they made a blockbuster movie about ROM Spaceknight and my whole series of ROM comics sold for $5,000,000?"
I try to throw a little wishful thinking in with my morbid curiosity from time to time...
(Yup...I have ALL of them...in little plastic bags...in a box in my closet...(oh no, I'm still a geek!))
Anyway. I think her Mom and I did a pretty good job of helping her understand that we would not do that to her...AND...that there are plenty of people to care for her (Big Brother, Auntie Hill, Auntie LaLa, Auntie BoBo....etc....)
Besides, she used her fears to reassure herself that Mommy and Daddy would indeed fight over her (and she demonstrated for us by having us act this out by playing tug of war with her arms.)
So, until her next bout of morbid curiosity...
Thursday, June 25, 2009
If God were like my earthly dad, I'd be hearing a heavenly "I'll GIVE you something to gripe about!" right about now...fortunately, I am pretty much finished with the old Pity Party. (It was certainly a nice one though... complete with popped balloons, dark brooding colors, wasted time, and oh the irritability!")
I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I (and don't forget ME!)
We're engaged in an excellent study in Sunday school right now about spiritual gifts/strengths. I was struck this morning ONE, that I pretty well figured mine out and TWO, that unless used for service, the gifts lead to total brokenness. For example, for those of us who have a gift of sensitivity (Read with an Eddie Murphy lisp as in: "He's so sensitive.."), when used for service it becomes a tool to identify and build up those who are emotionally broken. When used for self...you guessed it...it leads to self-pity, hurt feelings, and isolation.
I was not designed to be this -I was designed to be a part of this -- Thank God for His provision for the numerous back-ups needed when I decide to go it alone for awhile!
No wonder I feel useless while serving self....I am.
Lucid living...get plenty of rest, pray, eat right, bad stuff in moderation, spend time with my child, love my wife, and open my arms...
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Then my daughter got into the act and, without knowing it, made my 42nd birthday more special and more important than any other. She gave me a card. Actually she gave me three cards. She loves the cards that play songs when you open them and so she had been collecting them for quite some time to give to me.One of those cards, happened to be a father's day card she decided to give me for my birthday, was one which allows you to record your own message prior to the music playing...(have you put this all together yet?) Well, she recorded a message for me. She did it all by herself, worked really hard to get it just right. I had no idea and so, when I opened it and heard her voice, I cried. Not that little crying which you can hide; not the couple of tears sliding down my face cry but a real live total loss of composure. She has never seen me cry before. That's probably not a great thing to admit, but it is the truth. I am as guilty as many other men of hiding that range of my emotional expression.
She probably had no idea what was going on for a short time, then I remember someone telling her that she had just made her Daddy VERY happy and she understood that these were happy tears. Well then she climbed on my lap and held me very tight...which of course touched me even more so I had quite a little cry with my daughter (who by now was crying too).
I was assured after the fact by my sister that Dora Diane would forever remember that day as a wonderful day when she deeply touched her father's heart. Indeed, she has been quite close to me since that time, even more so than usual...and we are pretty close.
I'm glad she got to see that. I tell her I love her all the time. I show her I love her too, but tears like that say "You're awesome and I love you!" in a very powerful way. I knew it would eventually happen...like when she graduates, when she gets married, has a child....oh man, my macho eyes are going to be red.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I recognize my difficulty to "love" those I LOVE spawns from my taking their "misbehavior" personally. My wife comments on the bathroom being unfinished and I experience an unintentional blow to the gut which says "Can't you do anything around here?" My daughter pouts and whines when I think she should be happy and I experinece an unintentional slap to the face which says "You failed to make me a happy, optimistic child."
Monday, May 18, 2009
So, I'm lifting her out of bed to carry her to our room when she says "Wait, my bear..." Setting her back on her bed she looked around and plunged her hand through a hill of stuffed animals and pulled out a little stuffed "Webkin" elephant. Happy as a clam (I guess there is research to suggest that the molusks are particularly resistant to depression), she held tight as I moved through the hall. By the time we made it to our room, I think she was nearly asleep again. (Makes it sound like our house is huge doesn't it...I'll let your imagination run).
I guess my question is, "Who needed whom?" Did she worry that the webkin would feel lonely or did she feel connected and in need of the webkin? Now, though Dora has a special love for her stuffed animals, she does not have one in particular which she always carries around. It just seems to be on a whim; sometimes it's Tiger (my favorite), and sometimes it's someone else.
To me, the beauty is in her innocence. She was in the arms of her father, going to sleep with her mother and father, safely in their room....and she remembered her "bear." That is one of those "make you smile" moments when I just felt awe at the gift of this child."
Another which I've seen a couple of times recently is the "can you keep a secret" whisper which children use when sharing surprises with adults. An example, we have a new portable DVD player (that's 3 in 8 years...longevity is not their strong point...but boy are they awesome on trips). It is an RCA so it has the RCA dogs on the front as the start up picture. Dora liked that almost more than the player itself and, when she saw her Auntie Bobo, she shared her new player with her and then: "It's new, and when you turn it on..." (she cups her hand to the side of her mouth in secret telling style and lowers her voice to a whisper) "it has dogs on it." I love that! The adult implication is "Don't tell anyone, but listen to this!" Such juicy gossip! But it's not a secret...just special information that she was sharing just with her Auntie Bobo.
I have a million of those "I wish she could stay this way forever's." that I could record in Daddyspeak.
(Writer cups hand to mouth and lowers voice to a whisper)
I hope you don't mind.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
As angry as I get at those children for hurting you...I try not to be unrealistic and blind to where the blame really should fall. Failed fathers - or sperm doners for a graphic label. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are married, some are out for a good time, others are afraid, and still others are simply evil in the depth of their self-centeredness. But why are they like this. Why are fathers failing so miserably? The reasons are numerous, but I like to simplify it down and call it the mashmallow syndrome.
These are the marshmallow inside, cookie crust outside guys. They feel whimpy and soft inside becuase they have never discovered their strength...probably no one has ever told them they have strength, or that they should be proud of their accomplishments, whatever they are. These men decide early that, rather than face life as a marshmellow, being picked on themselves for what they believe is their deep weakness, they begin early to build a tough external layer (the cookie crust). Sometimes it is thick, sometimes thin, but always it is false. Often it is made up of exactly what these men lack in their core: confidence, verility, or strength. Always, the cookie version is brittle, and might break if attacked. Thus, these men spend a lifetime building and protecting their tough exterior until they forget about their marshmallow inside....until they fear it will be exposed. Exposure of the inside leaves these men feeling oozy and sticky...all the things many men fear and refuse to face.
Friday, May 1, 2009
If I didn't know better, I would think there was a vast conspiracy to make the population of the US, and the world utterly terrified of everything. If there should be a national motto right now, I think it should be that one.
AMERICA -- BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID
Terrorists, might strike. The economy might collapse. We might lose our jobs. We might lose our savings. We might get the swine flu. We might ALL get the swine flu. There isn't enough money. There aren't enough bullets. There aren't enough hospital rooms. Our children might be abducted. Muslims are taking over. Christians are taking over. It's getting hotter on the earth. It's getting colder on the earth. The sun is too quite. An asteroid might hit us. Earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, war, famine, pestilence, pandemics.................................
I think I'd stay home...if I wasn't afraid of losing it.
Doesn't it all seem just a bit too convienient? Doesn't it seem a bit "wrong?" Is that what we are here for...to live life as a 70 to 80 year dash to the finish...desperately hoping nothing takes us out too early. No. That's not why we are here. But it IS just one more way to rob us of our time and our peace.
"...because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:14-17
America used to have a motto which understood this. "In God we trust."
I'm sick of the spirit of fear which has gripped America for so long.
And I'm SO sick of being personally afraid. I'm not going to be afraid anymore. Cautious, concerned, and careful...but no more fear.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4
I wonder if that means things will be racheted up a little more.
I'm with my good friend who is facing many more reasons to be afraid right now than I:
Where oh death is your sting, where oh death is your victory.
My hope rests in eternity. I know my family will be there and I know I will as well. I will hold to that with every ounce of my being and I will live a life which glorifies the One who decided to give me life. I have nothing to lose, and eternity to gain.
Tying this in to Daddyspeak...being a daddy has done this for me. I used to be rather fatalistic and uncaring about living or dying...until I had a child. Now, the main source of my fear is not what happens to me for me, but for her. "What if she dies is replaced by what if I die and she loses her father or mother", and on and on and on and on and on and on.
Letting God's spirit move in me though has helped me see that "I DON'T HAVE ANY CONTROL OVER ANY OF THAT AT ALL!!!!." Worry does not equal control, it is the semblance of control. I can not allow myself to fear anymore. Ironically, it will kill me faster than some of the things I worry about.
"For you did not receive a spirit of fear but of sonship."
The swine flu can't kill a son or daughter of God....only release us to be with Him.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
That makes me feel yuk. Seeing her lying on the ground and "knowing" in the way the subconscious mind instantly knows things, but calling her name anyway and then consciously knowing gave me that sinking feeling in my gut. That makes me feel yuk too.
She's been dying for a long time. I knew that so I have tried to make her more comfortable. There was the medication for her joint pain, and the daily expensive soft dog food for her. I didn't take her to the vet when she lost her eyesight in one eye because actually, for the past 6 months she has been obviously feeling much better than she did for at least a year prior. She even wagged her tail when she knew I was there.
Joy was my dog and I was her person. I have a couple of stories which demonstrate that more than ever....
When we lived out in the country, I let Joy run free. I know; not supposed to do that but, she was fixed, and our distant neighbors didn't seem to care. When I say free...I mean, she went wherever she wanted and did whatever she wanted and killed whatever she wanted. The time I am thinking of, she found a den of skunks and not only killed the adult, but killed all five of the babies. I know this because she very proudly brought them to the house to show me her handy work. They were layed out in a straight line near the porch when I found them...Joy lay nearby, panting and wagging her tail.
Living in the city limited her freedom to a certain extent, but we are blessed to have a pretty large back yard. One night, the neighbor hunting dogs tunnled under the fence and came into our yard. There was some growling which brought me outside. Lance, Joy's adopted child was there wagging his tail and Joy was no where to be seen. I was a little wary of these strange dogs and stood there not quite knowing what to do when the oldest looking one growled at me. My little medium sized Joy shot out of her dog house and went straight for the older dogs throat. She was protecting her human. I've never had an animal do that for me before, nor will I ever probably again.
Death of someone, or something I love brings up guilt feelings in me. "I should have..." or "I could have..." I asked my class today to write their legacy, how they wish to be remembered when they die. While I was waiting for them to finish, I was suddenly touched with Joy's answer:
"I want him to remember that I belonged to him, that I was happy, and that I loved him."
"Good girl...and thank you."
Monday, April 27, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I found a recent extra benefit to this routine. My daughter is not perfect in her appearance like some of the turds in her second grade class think she should be and they, in their magnanomous benificence shared with her that has xxx and yyy. After being made aware, she experienced the usual response of staring at herself in the mirror, wishing xxx and yyy would go away. And then she faked sick for 3 days in a row (we made her go to school anyway).
[An aside: If you are an idiot parent who doesn't have the compassion to teach your child at a very young age not to make fun of other people...I hope you enjoy it when you child grows to be an adolescent and makes fun of you, among others. Have fun with that.]
I realized I had a perfect opportunity to teach a lesson without directly personalizing it and drawing up her defences so I wove a story about how the young daughter of Aragorn, Chastity (yeah, Sonny and Cher) had a very tiny nose, and a large birth mark on her face. She too was made fun of and after threatening to throw the bullies in the dungeon (which she made me say several times), her mother (Joy -- named after our dog) taught her how to deal with those kind of people.
I felt especially proud that day. And especially grateful to other's more creative than I who wove the stories I use to weave mine. But most of all, I'm grateful to Dora Diane, for reminding me how very important it is to tell stories and laugh in the morning.
I wonder if she's too young for me to work in the horrible death of Chastity's boyfriend brought about by his attempt to kiss her...
Monday, April 13, 2009
This past week for example, Holy Week leading up to Easter. I found myself approaching Easter in an entirely different way than ever before. Perhaps it was our new preacher and his sermon the Sunday prior. Perhaps it was wisdom. Or perhaps, it was the fact that Dora Diane was ready to learn more about the death and resurrection of Christ. Either way, I worked to take it seriously. We even watched The Passion on Friday night (just my wife and I). It was really rewarding, though very difficult to watch. Somehow Jesus is more real to me these days...something I have probably prayed for to the extent that it is now being answered. Anyway, it is helpful for me to imagine Christ himself walking with me through the low places, as well as the high ones.
I'm pretty sure that Dora didn't gather the full meaning of what Christ did for her...but I do know she understands that the easter bunny does not give meaning to Easter. Part of me marvels that we Christians celebrate the cruel and painful death of an innocent man. I know, I know, we celebrate his resurrection....but really, partially, we celebrate his death. Watching the Passion, I realized how primitive this all is. We humans try so hard to be civilized...but we're not. If Christ was alive today, He would not have to worry about our "civilized" society failing to put him to death. We'd find a way. Maybe he would be beheaded by Muslims. Maybe he would be placed in a mental institution. Probably he wouldn't even set foot in America...to much bad press. I'll bet he'd appear in a little backwater town in an occupied land...I hope not Afganistan or Iraq...but that would be just like Him. (No, I'm not comparing the US to the Romans.)
Friday, April 3, 2009
I attend a baptist church in a small town. That is a bit different than saying that "I am a baptist" but still, close enough for most. Baptists, if one didn't know are rather conservative. That is to say, when my old pastor came upon me in the local grocery store with a 30 pack of bud light under the basket...well, he was nice...but I don't think I ever lived that down in his mind. Good baptists don't drink, smoke, dance or gamble. (Well, one out of four aint bad!) (Brings up the old joke about the guy who says he's a old time baptist, pats his shirt pocket and say's "Sh**, I'll bet you a hundred dollars I left my cigaretts at the bar in the dance hall!"
Anyway. Some Baptists also deal with tragedy in a way which is difficult for me to swallow. When bad things happen, they first ask themselves if there is any "unconfessed sin" in their life. I don't. Remember, I just attend a baptist church and keep my amazement to myself. If anything causes me to tumble down the hill over my faith however it is that belief, as well as this one: Someone dies, gets shot, loses a child to an illness, whatever and their self-soothing is, "I know this is God's will." or "I know this is all part of His plan for me."
I've worked really, really hard on that and two things come to mind:
1) If I am a competent enough father to find ways to teach my daughter things she needs to know without kicking her in the literal or figurative gut...I believe God can do the same.
My plan for Dora is that she never get electrocuted. I'm not going to cause her to lose her hands so she never has an opportunity to stick them in the light socket. Now, if she does step outside of my plan and sticks something in the light socket and I'm not around to help, she will suffer. That's NOT my plan for her; in fact it is way outside of my plan for her. So there she is, lying on the floor unconscious, her hand black from an electrical burn. I would immediately swoop her up in my arms and rush her to the hospital. I would do everything in my power to help her overcome and live on despite her bad choice. Thus, I would continue to work out my plan for her, despite the obstacle she thrust in my way. Perhaps her bad experience would be useful to her in the future. But it was not in my plan...and I didn't cause it to happen...and I didn't NEED for an accident to occur to get her attention. I'm competent enough to find other ways to reach her.
I know enough about God's will to starve an ant, but the above reflection on my own imperfect fathering leads me to assert that God is not a bumbling uncle who watches me trip down the stairs and then says, "I saw that coming 'and allowed it to happen' becuase I decided you needed to learn a lesson about stairs." Rather, I think He is there with me, at the bottom, weeping and hurting with me, while He begins to work out His will for me, now that I have a broken leg. (He "taught" me all about stairs back when I was a very young child and experienced gravity for the first time. The brain He designed learns from those early mistakes and is supposed to remind me to be careful.)
2) Consider the following:
- "Josef F., 73, admitted that he locked his daughter, who was 18 at the time, in the cellar, that he repeatedly had sex with her, and that he is the father of her seven children." He kept her a total prisoner for 24 years. She never saw the light of day.
This was discovered 6 months ago and the guy is soon to be sentenced. Of course the girl and her seven children are all in a mental institution. If THAT was the 'will of God for her life, and the lives of her seven children;" if THAT was God's plan for them...well, just imagine what that would mean about God.
What does it mean about God if the plane crash victim whose life was saved and says, "I guess it was just God's will that I live."? Does that mean it was God's will that the rest died? I humbly suggest "no." God's will for all of us is that we "have life and have it abundantly." Anything which limits or hinders abundant life is outside of God's will. Human error or Evil which entered the world to create chaos, disease, and death is the culprit I choose to blame.
What gives me hope is that God is all powerful and able to use "All things for the good of those who seek and fear him." He has a perfect plan and is not ultimately thwarted by evil. I remember playing with ant beds in my youth and thowing obstacles in the ants way just to see what they did. Over and over, their initial will was challenged but they would always find a work around.So what do I say to people when they are the recipients of one of these "obstacles?" The first thing is "I'm sorry you have to endure this." The last thing I would say (and if I got to it on the list I would cross it off and not say it) would be "God's will is hard and mysterious." To me, at this time in my spiritual growth, that's just ignorant and mean.
I know God has a plan, and I know He is bigger than any tragedy which should randomly fall on me or my family. I know He has a plan for my daughter, and I know that He will continue to work it out. And in the end, wherever she is on the journey, He will bring her home to Himself.
Sorry to any and all who disagree. I'm not a good baptist. But do want to be a good Christian. I do want to be in His plan and I don't want to have to figure out the "magic" formula to keep from getting a spiritual kick in the gut. I've never come across that passage in the bible. (Ok, ok. Someone is eventually going to read this and think about the verse which says "The Lord Chastens those He loves." and "God will not allow you to face more than you can bear." Let me work on those further and elaborate later.)
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
My melancholy bluntness stems from recent events in the lives a people I care about. A dear, old friend faces his infant son's debilitating illness...and nothing seems to be working to heal him. Another acquantance at church lost their unborn child.
My wife and I have been through terrifying trials with our daughter...but not like that. Yet I can imagine the worst. My life experiences have taught me that she could be gone by this evening. I am helpless to stop that. Probably why we humans eventually seek solice in a "higher power." The Alcoholics Annonymous organization has it right...step 1: I admit I am powerless over my _________. I give control over to my higher power.
Fill in the blank.
But I don't want to be powerless! It's really not fair. If others get their time with their children, watch them grow up, have the luxary of time, why not I? Job said the same. Lost everything unfairly. And God's response...it blows me away.
"Who do you think you are to contemplate?" "Help me understand your great human wisdom which allows you to dictate fair versus unfair." Paraphrased, much of that seems to scream: "It's not about you Job." "There is a much bigger picture."
Could we be let in on the bigger picture then. If a child had to suffer, could we not see how it's all supposed to work out in the end. Just let me know who benefits, and how. What will I learn at the cost of this child's suffering. Worst of all...why do so many refuse to learn those lessons and repeat the same failings over and over again?
It doesn't make sense. But I should be used to that...there are a lot of things my mind doesn't wrap around. But I'm brooding. I don't have to suffer anything but the fear of those things. When I thought I was in the moment...I wasn't. Relief fell and all was right with the world.
It's not about me...but I am decieved to believe that it is. My child's suffering becomes my suffering...and I grieve because I hurt. "Why Me?"
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Being an only child, our daughter needs playmates and who better to play with her than her dear old dad. So it started one morning long ago (about 5 years ago actually) with my daughter asking me to play "talk animals" with her (that's another story altogether). This became routine and Dora began asking "Is today a Daddy and Dora day?"
Though they have evolved over time, we still have our Daddy and Dora mornings and sometimes days. (I even have the t-shirt.) Spring break allowed us 6 Daddy and Dora mornings (and one whole Daddy and Dora day.) It was nice to connect with the princess.
This morning, day two of our return to normal post holiday life and thus, our Tuesday trip to 2nd grade drop off, my daughter forwent (?) her usual request of "Aragorn" (o.k., that's another story too) and simply informed me, "I love to read" as she opened her Calvin and Hobbs anthology (well, it's mine really). Silence on the way to school.
I didn't like it. Is this what we will become, my own parents and I not speaking on the way to places? She'll do her thing and I'll have to sit here and try to think up something to say to pull her into a conversation. Gosh I hope not. I want her to talk to me. I want her to want to talk to me. I need the connection, and I know that she does too.
She was still reading as we neared her school when all of a sudden she said, "Aragorn!" I looked and she showed me she had once again finished off a rather large book. "We're at the school already!" I half kidded, and told her a small bit of the story we were working on (Aragorn and Chastity (Daddy and child). She figured out the riddle I posed (part of the story) and beamed at her cleverness. (me too) It was time to exit the car. Time to run into school. Time for our separation, a harder time for me I think than her...but today, just when I had been thinking I was losing her, she took several steps toward the door, turned, and ran back to the car for a quick kiss and an "I love you Daddy."
If she only knew.