Sunday, November 12, 2017

Day 11: Thankful for My Dad (Veteran's Day)

Went to see my favorite veteran today: my Dad. 

I told him "Happy Veteran's Day," and tried to make him understand. I even wrote it down for him. I don't think he *got* it, because all he said was, "very nice." 

He recognized me right away, which was great, but then, even tho Clara said he had been asking for me all week, he goes, "where's Leanne (one of my sisters)?" Ha! I told him that she would come another time. 

He seemed a little confused, so I said, "but look who I brought!" I took Clark's hand, and pulled him over. I said, "Dad, this is Clark." He looked at me like I was crazy, and said, "I know."  

God made our minds so beautifully complex. One minute, my Dad was talking clearly about current events, and people he knows...and the next minute, he wasn't making any sense (to us). Or, he would make a random comment about a conversation we'd had an hour ago. Like, it took his mind that long to process what we were talking about earlier. It's all in there, he's just not firing on all cylinders, and not everything is connecting properly. 

He perked up when his "mobility meds" kicked in, and he was excited to eat lunch. 

My Dad, my veteran, is 100% disabled now. He needs help with everything, and relies heavily on Clara. He has fallen hard several times in the last couple of weeks. Altho doctors say nothing is broken, his left shoulder is swollen, and it's black and blue all the way down to his hand. 

He told me that things had really gone downhill for him, physically. 

He spends most of his days in his recliner. He can't hear well, and he's confused a lot of the time. He enjoys getting out and going to church on Sundays. And while he may not remember a lot of things, or even most things, Clara says he remembers everyone from church. How sweet is that? 

I wish he could go to church every day.  

He got emotional when he talked about our family. He said, "I love my family, and I love my kids." He told me we should come again real soon, and bring Rhodie. 

As we left, I gave him a kiss, and rubbed his head. I said, "I love you, Dad." He said, "I love you, too, Marty." And then he said this: "you've been a real nice addition to our family." 

WHAAAAT? 

I mean, I guess that's good, Dad...SINCE YOU MADE ME.

What in the world?

My Dad...humble, faithful, quiet, kind. Knows my imperfections, and loves me anyway. Loves all of us, my siblings and me, unconditionally. Served our country, his church, our family, and others. He prays for us every day. Always sees the good in others. 

Points us to an amazing God. 

I am thankful for every second with him.

"Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation, Your mighty miracles to all who come after me." Psalm 71: 18

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Day 10: Thankful for the Blessing of Adoption

About a year ago, I was sitting in church, when the pastor asked for everyone, whose life had been touched by adoption, to stand. 

I sat there, and let my eyes look all around the room. I saw young people, old people...and families. I remember thinking, "WOW! This is amazing!" 

I have a heart for adoption. I have friends who are adopted, and friends who have grown their family by adoption. 

To me, adoption is the perfect picture of what Jesus does for us, when we choose to follow Him. He takes us out of our broken state, and brings us into His family. He takes us from a place of no hope...and He becomes our hope. 

As with any adoption, there is sacrifice. There is the death of what was, or of what could've been...and it is replaced by something new: a new life...a new family. 

And it is permanent and binding. 

Likewise, when we join the family of God, our names are written in His book of life (Rev 3:5), and they can never be removed. 

When there is an adoption of a child, the state will issue a new and amended birth certificate, with the adoptive parents' names on it...and they are forevermore that child's parents. 

Back to that Sunday in church: after everyone sat down, Jim elbowed me, and whispered, "Uhh...HELLO?" I said, "what?" He mouthed the name of a family member, and I said, "oh yeah...I forgot!" 

I mean, it never even crossed my mind. 

Which is kind of like it should be, huh?  

There's no difference in any of us, in the eyes of Christ. 

My life has been touched by adoption, and I'm so very thankful.

"God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure." Ephesians 1:5

Friday, November 10, 2017

Day 9: Jesus Is The Cure

My sister took this picture of me and my Dad during our last visit. 

He talks so quietly...I had to really lean in to hear him. 

Finally, I just went and sat on the edge of his chair. What was he saying? I don't remember, and it doesn't matter. I just knew that I didn't want to miss a word. 

He used to leave me with really sweet and poignant nuggets of truth from God's word. Not so much anymore, but that's okay. 

He has lived out his faith. The example he set has spoken volumes to everyone who knows him. 

When I got home, I stared at this picture...so thankful to have it, and hoping to sear it into my memory. I looked at the bracelets on my arm, and took a close-up picture: "relentless." That's what I think of when I think of my Dad. 

He was relentless in his devotion to God; relentless in his desire to protect and provide for our family; relentless in his prayers for me and my siblings. And so, now, because of his example, I try to be relentless in my devotion to God, and relentless in my desire to protect my family. 

And I am relentless in my prayers for my kids...for the things and people who are important to them: day, night, middle of the night...I am storming the gates of Heaven on their behalf. 

And the blue cuff I wear...it's words to a song by the group, Unspoken: "You are the cure." 

He is. 

God is. 

Wars, shootings, unrest, protests, elections, and every other thing that keeps us awake at night. There's only one cure for the sin and evil that seems to be rampant in our world today: Jesus. He is the cure. 

And that's what I'm thankful for today.

"As Your name deserves, O God, You will be praised to the ends of the earth. Your strong right hand is filled with victory." Psalm 48:10

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Day 8: Thankful for My Dad

I didn't think I was gonna be able to get words on the screen tonight, because my heart is full...full of every emotion, and thinking all the things. I'm remembering my Dad tonight. 

Oh, he's still here, physically, anyway. 

But, Parkinson's is a slow-fade, and that's kind of where we are now. 

He's weak, unsteady, confused. He needs help with everything. 

My Dad...my big, strong Dad. He was always the one who wanted to take care of others. He was the helper, the servant, the gentle giant...quiet, wise, encouraging. I don't ever remember him saying a critical word to us. He prayed for us every day. He believed in us. He was proud of us. 

Today, there was a conversation about what comes next for him. Even tho it may be necessary, for his safety, it made my heart so sad. 

But, God is good. He speaks to me in many ways, but especially through music. 

I almost stayed home from choir practice tonight, because my heart felt really tender. But I'm really thankful I went. We sang about how God's love endures forever. And we sang about God's glory. And we sang about how, when we are poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore...Jesus stands and saves us, and EMBRACES us in His arms. 

And then I heard Carrie Underwood sing, "Softly and Tenderly" on the Country Music Awards tonight, and I bawled like a baby. 

Because God reminded me that He is softly and tenderly calling my Dad home. 

It may be this year, next year, or ten years from now... but it will be His way, and in His timing. 

Until then, we are to treat my Dad carefully, and with the dignity he deserves. 

Even tho we can't always see it, there's purpose in the suffering, in the hard, in the waiting. We are trusting God to help us to see it. 

Tonight, and every night, I'm just really thankful for my Dad. 

"Oh, for the wonderful love He has promised...promised for You and for me! Tho we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon...pardon for you and for me! Come home! Come home! Ye who are weary, come home! Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling...calling oh, sinner, come home!" 

"Listen, children, to a father's instructions, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding and insight." Proverbs 4:1

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Day 6: Thankful that God is Always at Work Around Us

I've written, here on the blog, about how, a year or so ago, our church began an intensive focus on discipleship. 

About how our staff wrote the curriculum we would study; how everyone in our church, all ages, is studying the exact same thing; how they put all of this in journal form, and we work thru it each week. 

There's a Scripture passage to read and reflect on each day...and a place for us to write our insights in our journals. 

I don't know how long ago the material for our journals was written. Months, I would guess. 

My youngest son likes to remind me, "God is always at work around you." 

That boy's a smarty-pants. Ha! 

Actually, he's just repeating words I've said to him over the years. And I was just repeating words I read years ago, when I did Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God" study. 

Months ago, I don't think anyone could have imagined the place we are in now, our church, but God knew. 

Months ago, He laid the passages of Scripture we are studying RIGHT NOW, on the hearts of the ones who were writing this material....and it is perfect for what we need. 

Who knew? 

God knew. 

He is always at work around us, and this is what I'm thankful for today.

"I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Psalm 16:8