A Dad and His Daughter

In 2012 I wrote about my Dad and I. I’d like to post it here. It is still as true today as it was 5 years ago.While on a two month home visit, we flew to Oklahoma City to spend a week with my dad, step-mom, and extended family. On the weekend we had a family reunion. We gathered at two log cabins near a beautiful lake. It was a four hour drive for the closest ones, and flights from as far away as Arizona and Virginia for others. Family gatherings are sometimes bittersweet, like a chocolate bar. For all the sweetness, there’s always a few nuts; in all the sweetness just a tinge of the bitter as well.

Actually no reunion was planned for this year. But after my Dad had a small heart attack (if any heart attack can be called small) in August, plans were quickly made for this reunion.

Although Dad was dealing with dizzy spells, he thoroughly enjoyed seeing his children, grand-children and great-grand-children together. The almost constant smile on his face was worth all the work, travel, and expense involved.

Two days after the reunion, while I was sitting at the table talking to Dad and my step-mom, Judy, my Dad suddenly slumped forward. His color went gray, and he was not breathing. I helped him straighten up and shouted, “Breathe, Dad, breathe!” My husband called 911 and my step-mom prayed. He became alert enough to ask for his nitroglycerin. The EMTs arrived , stabilized him and transported him, siren blaring and lights flashing, to the hospital.

By the time we arrived at the ER, Dad was sitting up on the gurney with oxygen, IV, and numerous sensors taped to his body. But the most notable thing was his smile. My dear Dad was smiling! After multiple tests they decided to keep him overnight for observation. He was discharged the next evening.

The doctor had told us his heart was quite compromised and there really was not anything to do but learn to live with it. He gave him medicine for a bladder infection, promised physical therapy at home to help him regain strength, and made an appointment for follow-up with his cardiologist.

That night, as I said goodnight to Dad, we hugged and kissed. I told him I had been really frightened when he was not breathing and thought he might be on his way to heaven. I said I was not shouting to him to breathe because I had anything I needed to say to him or needed to hear from him. I just didn’t want to lose him. Wonderfully, I could look him in the eyes and see only love. I told him I felt no shame or remorse for anything that ever happened between us. Only love.

He answered that he loves me and knows I love him. He doesn’t have any unfinished business with me either. We just enjoyed a lingering hug and thankful hearts for God’s grace and mercy.

My Dad has such a big, generous heart. He was weakened by the earlier heart attack, is getting hard of hearing, has returning cataracts, and painful feet, but he never complains. He unselfishly helps my step-mom who deals with the effects of Parkinson’s. He only finds good and kind things to say. He never fails to give God the credit for everything. He trusts God and gently points everyone around him to his best Friend. What a treasure God has put in that clay jar.

The next day we had to fly back to Virginia. Almost the whole trip home, silent tears rolled down my cheeks. I thought that would be the last time I would see my dad alive in this life.

None of us know when will be the last time we see our loved ones. We pray for our unsaved loved ones, and truly pray that each time we see them won’t be our last. But for those who love Jesus, like my Dad, we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. We will cry when our loved ones go home, but we don’t have to have hearts heavy with things unsaid.

I wonder if there is anyone in your family – a dad or mom, a son or daughter, anyone- who you might want to contact right now, wherever you are. Perhaps it has been too long. Perhaps there is something that needs a loving resolution. As a man said in one of my husband’s seminars, tell them you love them and appreciate them while you have them with you. The day will come when you wish you had, and they will be gone.

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Am I a Dinosaur?

Do you ever feel like a dinosaur? People who buy the lies of the current moral confusion, with all its relativism, call themselves Progressives. That makes people like us- people who hold onto proven, established principles of truth- dinosaurs. Our day is over. Now it’s their day. Or, so they say.

We pursue many different avenues of service here in our adopted country. We love our work, this place, and especially the people. But recently, we’ve heard some of the most heart-rending stories. We’ve tried to help the innocent victims, and we’ve tried to help those who caused terrible pain to others. Sometimes, by the grace of God, we succeed. But, in truth, many times we don’t, and those situations grieve us.

In all this grief, I’ve seen a common thread. If people just stayed inside the boundaries God has set, they would never have to deal with these horrible consequences (See Psalm 16:5-6). But the spirit of this age, combined with their own distorted desires, constantly battles that idea.

Here’s an example. Like most of my readers, we teach abstinence before marriage. We teach fidelity in marriage. We teach thoughtfulness and appreciation for our spouse. We teach honor and respect. We teach financial accountability. These are not such extraordinary boundaries, are they? In our world, it seems they are.

I am not describing people outside the Christian community. These are people who have said they believe. Yet there was a disconnect between what they said they believe and what they did. That has always been a problem. But the idea that biblical teaching is outdated makes destructive behavior even more alluring.

So, when we say, “Read your Bible, pray, allow your life to be changed by what you have heard;” some make excuses. “I’m too busy.” “I don’t understand what I read.” “I don’t see how this applies to my life.”

Even if they do know what the Bible says, they make excuses for why they don’t do it. They use their culture as an excuse for behavior outside God’s boundaries. They use their human nature as an excuse. They say, “Everyone else does it, why won’t God let me have a little fun?” And when the bad consequences of their bad choices appear, they say, “I didn’t think it would happen to me.”

They don’t seem to realize that if you live God’s way, the ancient, proven way, He watches out for your good. He fills your life with peace and security. He makes even the bad things that happen help us grow and become better. As Tim Keller says, life always works best when you follow the Maker’s instruction manual.

It is not because I am old that I believe in following God’s rules. I’m not some aging joy thief, trying to take away other folks’ fun. I plead with them to do what He wants them to do, not because it is old (though it is), but because it is the best. I have practiced this and know my life is infinitely better than it would have been if I had gone my own way.  Millions would say the same.

But we live in the days of progressive ideology. Established morals and boundaries are regressive and oppressive, they seem to say. Any of us, whether we are 17 or 70, who hold to the old truths, are on the brink of extinction. But those old truths, the established ways of the Eternal God, are just as powerful today as they ever were.

God has very good reasons for wanting us to do things His way. But saying these things in the present moral climate opens us to the dreaded judgement that we are old and irrelevant. Like dinosaurs. What sounds like a voice from heaven to us may sound like the incoherent moans of an ancient beast to them.

Even so, it is hard to convince modern believers of the importance of the lessons we learn in God’s Word. If they think of His teachings as old-fashioned and out-of-date, they miss the point. He gives us these simple boundaries to keep us safe. He doesn’t give them to us to punish us or to make us miserable! Inside the boundaries is where life works best.

Distinction, not Extinction

We, my readers, must not live in fear of extinction. For we have the God-given distinction of offering Eternal truth, from the Eternal God, to wandering, confused people.

We must stay strong and focused as we share our faith and His Word. We must speak His truth and pray their hearts will be open and obedient to His calling. We must not lose heart that He will have his people in the next generation to pass along what we know will keep them safe and full of joy.

If you don’t remember the article I published a while ago, We Groan We Glory, you might like to read it now. It describes, among other things, the tensions that we experience when presenting Truth in an age of doubt.

“This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. . .” –  Jeremiah 6:16, NIV

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Not a Senior Moment

Our favorite restaurant in our area is Jaipur. It has been owned and operated by one man and his sons for about 20 years. He’s had the same wonderful cook from India for over 17 years. The food is south Indian cuisine and the atmosphere is crowded, happy, Malaysian coffee shop.

We went to Jaipur this afternoon for lunch as we often do on Fridays. Fridays are special at Jaipur. There are a greater number of vegetarian choices. Then after the meal, they serve delicious, sweet, payasam with cashew nuts and sultana raisins. Oh, how worth the calories it is!

We parked our car about a block away and approached Jaipur. We noticed one shop was completely gutted and they were installing tile and painting inside. We stood there for a minute trying to remember what had been in that shop before.  The hardware store was on one side and the Chinese medicine shop on the other. Now, we had passed this shop several times a week over our nine years eating at Jaipur.

When we couldn’t remember, we shrugged and went on for our yummy lunch. On the way back to our car, Mike stopped to answer a phone call. I wandered up to the new shop and looked in thinking I would see some clue to its former tenants. But no, no clues remained. When Mike continued to talk on his cell phone, I decided to ask the Chinese medicine shop keeper about their neighbor.

I laughed out loud and smacked my forehead when she said, “It was a bank.” Of course it was! That was our bank. We stopped there almost as often as we went to Jaipur. They had moved to a larger, newer lot a couple months ago, so we no longer linked our banking with that location.

How strange! When we see something out of place or so radically changed, we can forget it so quickly. Life goes on, changes occur all the time. Maybe this is an indication of how our minds cope with the fast pace of city life. It seems it only gets faster and faster.

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Truth for 20 Somethings

I just read an article about Lies 20 Somethings believe. I thought I’d write some of the highlights of my 20s. I think they prove the author’s point that our twenties are a starting point, a process, not the climax of our hopes and dreams.

My Twenties
1. I finished my three year diploma nursing program, but couldn’t finish my degree.
2. I only managed half a year of Bible School.
3. I just managed to get married before my mythical expiry date of 23 years.
4. I only could work in neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic for 6 months.
5. I miscarried my first baby.
6. We spent 14 months learning we were not cut out to pioneer a church.
7. I went back to working in newborn nursery and was there while it turned into a NICU. I liked it but it was not my long-term calling.
8. My first son was born and I learned how much I still didn’t know about babies.
9. We pioneered another church. (We weren’t slow learners, we just had so much more to learn.)
10. Our second son was born shortly before I turned 30.

Now in the later half of my sixties I can tell you what happened with each of those early steps.
1. A degree in nursing was not going to be important to where I was going.
2. That half year of Bible School began my lifelong love of Bible study.
3. After 43+ years of loving, learning, and companionship, the date we married really was not important.
4. Neurosurgery was not my life’s calling and I’m glad.
5. Though I lost that baby, God had given me so many sons and daughters over the years.
6. That first church pioneering experience was our first classroom in the real world.
7. My NICU work was the end of my career as a nurse, but then I began using my medical knowledge for my family’s health and helping my friends. Because of that background many trust me with their concerns.
8. Our first son is married and they have given us two wonderful grandchildren. He is a very involved dad and valuable employee.
9. In our last church we built strong foundations and learned lessons we still teach today. This church launched us into our more than 30 years in the nations.
10. Our second son is also married and well respected in his field for his knowledge and skills.

I had no idea in my twenties where I would go, what I would love to do, or how important those trials and failures would be to me and all those I’ve shared with over these last 40+ years.

So here’s the lesson in case you missed it. Life will not be as you imagine it. There will be surprises, a few bad ones, but mostly good.

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