Category Archives: Fathers

Worship Wednesday – Remembering Dad At His Passing – Grateful to God

Papa on 90th

In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. – Proverbs 14:26

Our dad, George Thomas McAdams, died on Christmas Day. Less than a month before his 94th birthday. He’d been persevering through both cancer and Alzheimer’s for a long time. He died at home with my brother and sister-in-law. When Dad’s condition had deteriorated such that he couldn’t stay in this beautiful assisted living situation he had, these two brought him home with them. They would care for him during “the long goodbye” of both diseases he had.

The hospice team said 3 weeks…it would be three months. I will always be grateful to my family for caring for Dad so well. My multiple trips coming in to assist probably helped me more than them…but those trips are done.

Now we gather and he’s gone.

We are just beginning to grieve fully. In recent years, we grieved by degrees as he lost parts of his memory and and his independence – both of which served him well for most of his long life.

I’ve written about Dad other times. The following glimpse of his life is adapted from a previous blog. [I left the “present tense” verbs…he was…and he is…and we will see him again in Heaven.]

Born in 1923, Dad was six years old at the start of the Great Depression. He would have to drop out of school in the 6th grade to help his father with their farm. He worked alongside his little sister and marveled how she seemed to always pick more cotton than he did in a day. A mischief was born in my dad in those days that continues today. When he and his sister talk about these lean years growing up, they both have such a joy in them remembering those days. This sweet aunt also has Alzheimer’s, and although her memory, like Dad’s, has worsened, her personality continues to be untouched, again like Dad’s. It’s such a joy for me to see her face light up when Dad remembers a story that she also remembers. Blog - Dad & Aunt Rosie[Dad with his beloved little sister Rosie – both with Alzheimer’s in their last years, both dying within months of each other]

Dad only finished 6th grade, but he schooled himself in life, learning farming from his dad, and then in the years since, carpentry, plumbing, electrical work. To me, he could always do anything.

As a teen, he went with the Civilian Conservation Corps and  worked on various road and park projects with other young men. Then he joined the Army during World War II. He fought in the Hedgerow (or Hedge Grove) Battles of Normandy with the 315th Infantry. He was a machine gunner and worked with a rocket launcher team. When we were younger, Dad wouldn’t talk about the war, but in his elder years, and until Alzheimer’s dulled his memory of details, he would tell us about those days. He even once had a brief conversation with General George Patton. His stories sent me searching for details about those battles. Amazing stories.Dad in Military - BLog

He married very young and has 5 children from his first marriage. [They have their own stories and memories which make Dad’s passing hard as well.] Some years later, when he married my mom, he took on her four children.  He’s the only dad I’ve ever known. I’m so grateful for his love, and work ethic, and determination in life. He and mom made a good team. The years of growing up with them married were the years that I learned about Jesus and became a Christ-follower.Blog - Debbie, Mom, & Dad (2)

Dad always had a servant heart. If he wasn’t out on a service truck somewhere helping someone, he was on the phone, talking someone through how to fix something. Like I said, he loved to work, and never minded calls from family, friends, neighbors who needed him.Dad - Blog

He and my mom would do a lot of serving together. They were very active in their church and also had a special heart for widows and the elderly. Their home was always open to people who needed a good meal or an encouraging word. Mom and Dad cared for her older brother and wife, as well as an elderly friend. Two grandchildren also lived with them for awhile, along with their dad (my oldest brother) during a difficult time of his own.Mom pictures for website 014aMom and Dad traveled overseas together to see other grandchildren (that would be our children) while we were living in Egypt and then in Tunisia. Then Mom was diagnosed with cancer and for the three years she endured that disease, Dad was right there for her. We were home the last year, and as hard as it was for all of us having to say goodbye to Mom, we were so touched by the sweet love they had through all of it. Dad would come twice more to see us, while we lived in Morocco, before he put his passport away.Dad - 2009 - Blog - Checkers

Dad has always been a character. Until his health started flagging (having had two cancers and severe cardiac issues), he was remarkably strong for his age. He says it’s from all the hard work he did all his life, and I believe him. He loves the Atlanta Braves (especially the years of Chipper Jones) and Southern Gospel music (the Gaither’s, in particular). I have never beat him in checkers. In fact, the only one who I knew could beat him was Mom. We don’t play checkers any more because when his memory started dimming, I didn’t want to take the chance that I might win. It would be so wrong.Dad & some of the grands on his 90th bday - Blog

He LOVES his grandchildren and great-grands. Full stop.  Blog - Dad & grandchildren - Jaden

Before his eyesight worsened, he read the Bible most days (studying his Sunday School lesson) and he read the newspaper every day. He loved to go out to  eat – fried fish, okra, chicken livers (emphasis on fried) and hot dogs at The Varsity. He had coffee every morning and loved whatever anyone set before him (his favorite being a sausage egg biscuit from Martin’s). The servers all knew him at his favorite local restaurants, and it was fun just sitting across from him, as they came around to wait our table and just to talk. He preferred Ford pickup trucks and always wanted a red one (his last truck would be a red pickup but this time a Dodge Ram). He had a poster of a red Ford truck on his bedroom wall for as long as I can remember. Blog - Dad or Papa - red Ford pickup truck (2)

At 92, Dad entered assisted living. Dad, Steph, & I with Mr. Wally at assisted living - Blog

All the family, his pastor, and friends would make it a good transition for him. He will make a place for himself there, and we will all come see him and tell the stories back to him that he’s told us all these long years.

2013 January Papa's 90th Birthday - Dad sleeping - BLog (2)

 I have a little of Dad’s mischief in me because one of the things I do that annoys my family is to take pictures of them when they’re napping. Just like we love to watch children sweetly sleeping, that’s what moves me to capture these images. There in the middle of all his loud family gathered happily for his 90th birthday, Dad nods off. Maybe because of all the cake he put away (did I mention his sweet tooth?)…but more so, I think he sleeps safe in the sweet company of those who love him.

Finally, I love his hands. He used to have rough, work-worn hands. Strong and capable. Now, they are soft…and not so strong. That doesn’t matter. They are still beautiful…and now we hold his hands, like he once held ours. How thankful we all are that he’s still with us…in this different season of life.Dad's hands edited - Blog

With the ravages of cancer, his age maybe, and Alzheimer’s Disease, Dad became very small before he died. Still amazingly strong, but small. Never mind that. We celebrate this man across the long years God gave him.  He’s had a very large life.

Understanding Alzheimer’s in 3 Minutes (video)

Alzheimer’s Disease – Caregiver Advice by Marie Marley, Author of Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer’s and Joy

5 Tips for Talking with a Person who has Alzheimer’s

Website for The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care by Virginia Bell & David Troxell

The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss by Nancy Mace & Peter Rabins

Poem – I Am Standing Upon the Seashore – Henry Van Dyke

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Lost Things Found – A Story and a Parable

img_9889

My husband and I love coffee. We also love to serve coffee to friends who love coffee. Over the years, we’ve collected favorite mugs – pottery mugs from Petra, Jordan; mugs with encouraging verses; favorite cartoon mugs; pretty flowery mugs for moms; mugs with whimsical animals tucked in the bottom, hiding for the coffee-with-cream drinkers. We have other every-day, minimalist mugs but these are the mugs that make us smile.

Then we lost them.

At Christmas, we bring out a box of Christmas mugs for the month of December. Our favorite mugs are then packed in the Christmas mug box until the New Year. Four Christmases ago, that box got misplaced. We looked and looked for it, after Christmas that year – scoured the shed and other less likely storage spots. We never found it.

Over time, we replaced those mugs…but still from time to time, wondered aloud about them.

Until yesterday.

I was out in a different shed (we had since moved from the house where we lost the mugs)…organizing and preparing to use or get rid of the contents of old boxes. When I got to this box that wasn’t labeled (very odd for me because I’m a great packer and inventory-maker after so many years of traveling).

img_9884

This box – this Avery label box – was one of many my mom used when she would pack up treasures at her house and store them to be given to us or shared with others at a later date. In her shed, she had stacks of these Avery boxes. When we closed down our parents’ home, many of these Avery boxes came to our houses. I still have a wave of emotion when I see them, even though we’ve also re-used them for storage of our own things.

Opening this particular box, I began unwrapping…it was a mug, just like one of my favorites. I didn’t remember Mom having this mug!?! By the third “favorite” mug unwrapped, I realized this was the lost box. The box that ended up in a corner with Mom’s treasures that we hadn’t yet begun using. This lost box…found!img_9886

It was so much fun unwrapping each mug…remembering the stories and people related to them. So much joy in re-discovery. img_9888

We have all lost things…my mom used to regularly lose her glasses and we kids would search everywhere until one of us proudly recovered them – from her sewing machine table, or on the Bible by her bed, or in the bathroom… Even though the losing would make us late somewhere, the joy of finding changed “mourning into dancing“.

blog-finding-lost-things-lost-sheep-gregory-dickow-ministriesPhoto Credit: Gregory Dickow

Finding our mugs, and the pleasure in finding them, reminded me of a series of parables Jesus once told his disciples. In Luke 15, he tells about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Jesus first tells about a shepherd with a hundred sheep. When he discovered one of the sheep was gone, he left the ninety-nine out in the open, while he searched for the one. On finding it, he called his neighbors and friends together to rejoice with him over the sheep found and restored to the herd. Then Jesus tells about a woman who lost a coin in her house and turned the house upside down until she found it. She was so thrilled by recovering the coin, she threw a party for her friends and neighbors (her joy was so great).

In both parables, Jesus compares this joy to that of the angels in Heaven over the sinner who repents and is restored to Father God.

Finally Jesus relates a parable of a lost son. This young son was reckless with his life and his inheritance, ending up in a miserable state, in a far country. He finally came to his senses and returned home. His father saw him coming and ran down the road to meet him. That same joyful father ordered a feast for this wayward son who had found his way home. blog-finding-lost-things-son-choosing-todayPhoto Credit: Molly Flinkman

This same joy, throughout these three parables, was that great joy of finding a treasure lost…the same as having a relationship restored.

There are a couple of troubling elements in the last parable. The older brother, the only other brother, was angry at his younger brother’s return. No rejoicing there. It doesn’t seem to fit in these parables of joy.

Also…the coin once lost was searched for. The sheep once lost was searched for…but not the son…not that younger brother.

My husband, Dave, loves these parables. He has often used them in his teaching, when appropriate. His conclusions about these two remarkable elements follow.

This older brother that was not joyful at his brother’s return. Why not? Why was the wayward brother not searched for?

Is it possible that the brother who stayed home, faithfully working beside his father…all those years, in the absence of that other brother…was the one missing from the searching?

Think about it. When my mom lost the glasses she needed…it wasn’t like losing a son; it was just glasses. Yet, because we loved her, we all scattered to find those glasses. That father whose foolish young son left him must have grieved terribly. More than farming beside him, that older son was meant to go after that younger one…that foolish one…and bring him home.

It might have been a struggle…but can you imagine, the immense joy of both the father, and the brothers, if the two came walking toward the house together…the lost one found…by his own brother?

I’m glad we have our mugs back. Rejoicing in that.

In thinking also of these parables of Jesus, my hope is that I won’t give up when there is something of much greater value to be found…recovered…restored. What joy!

Coffee, anyone?

What Finding Things Taught Me About Lost Things – Molly Flinkman

Story Vs. Parable – What’s the Difference?

Saturday Short – The Judge – A Raw, Painful, Healing, Magnificent Film – and the Soundtrack that Sealed It

JUDGE, THEPhoto Credit: The Judge Movie

Here’s a film, released in 2014, that received mediocre reviews but drew me in tightly from the beginning scenes. Before filming, the original script of The Judge went through two re-writes by separate screenwriters. I wonder why…was it to make the story more gentle or more biting (most probably)?

The plot story focuses on a father and three sons. They come together for the funeral of the mother who, although only seen on home movies, was clearly the center of this family, holding them together. Now with the mom gone, the men wrestle with the sharp edges of their relationships. All this happening in the midst of a mesmerizing courtroom situations.

blog-the-judge-2-the-judgemoviePhoto Credit: The Judge Movie

There is so much to love and hate about this film. It seems to have no filters. The dialog is raw and unrestrained. Some of the lines cut to the heart, leaving little will to reconcile. Yet, the characters are bound together somehow. That’s the hope in the film, actually…and it doesn’t disappoint.

Four of my favorite actors star in The Judge – Robert Duval, Robert Downey, Jr., Vincent D’Onofrio, and Billy Bob Thornton. Every other actor in the supporting cast seems perfectly hand-picked also and they play out the story powerfully.

This film is R-rated which is usually on my no-watch list. Beware of the language and the intense dialog. I watched it because of the ensemble cast and the courtroom drama.

The music also is a gorgeous backdrop for the story. Hearing Willie Nelson singing the Coldplay song The Scientist was surprising and fitting to the film. [Our oldest son, in high school years, used to play and sing this song]. Another song, Holocene by Bon Iver, slowed down the tempo of the film in a couple of scenes, the same way that grief does. Beautiful choices for the soundtrack.

My family growing up was not so much like this family…yet there were similarities that pulled me into the film story. Our mom was the center of our home and our childhood. Where this father emotionally abandoned his family for a time, our biological father walked away from us (as children), never seemingly looking back. I had three brothers. We had loud, sharp-edged fights with each other. The memory of those fights and that father wound has colored our adulthood. Our mom died…too soon. Fortunately, because of our faith in God and our love for each other, the past doesn’t define us anymore. We have come to a peaceful and amicable place in our relationships…for which I’m eternally grateful – especially since it began just before we lost our oldest brother.

I’m not necessarily recommending this film (especially because of the R-rating and the language), but on this Saturday morning, it came to mind. Now it’s in my head again for a bit. Especially the powerful scenes, like this courtroom scene – where the one most alienated son is questioning his father, the judge, who is convicted of murder (you have to see the movie or read the spoiler for the details). Beautiful and sad and finally…closure, of a sort, in the end.

5 Friday Faves – Dads Who Get It, Pompous Putdowns, Kids’ Birthdays, Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants, and a Good Laugh

Blog - Friday Faves

Hello, Friday Friends! Finishing up today’s blog at my favorite shared workspace. Last days of summer are upon us. Looking forward to Fall…however, taking each day as a gift. This is one!Blog - Shared Workspace - Friday Faves

Here are my favorite finds this week. Would love to hear some of yours in Comments below.

1) Dads Who Get It – What a blessing you Dads who notice and insert yourselves in our lives. With care and insight. In a Youtube video, a young boy, Mateo had a secret dream of being a professional dancer…or maybe it wasn’t so secret. His daily life was darkened by the regular taunts of neighborhood bullies. Then…enter the Dad.Blog - Dads Who Get It - Bullying - dresser splentalePhoto Credit: Dresser Splentale 

Watch this short and sweet video showcasing such a dad.

2) Pompous Putdowns  – Okay…I actually deserved this one maybe. I made a comment on a blog of one of my favorite culture commentators. He is a great thinker and I usually “amen” everything he posts. So, on the one piece that didn’t wash for me, I made a disparaging comment. Something that I don’t appreciate when it’s done to others. Thought about deleting it…but not before another replied to my comment with the phrase “what pious trout nonsense.”Blog - Putdowns and pious trout nonsense - Oxford Grotesque TwitterPhoto Credit: Twitter – Oxford Grotesque

Wow! Not just “rude” or “self-righteous”, but this altogether higher level of putting my comment in its place. Sophisticated and snarky name-calling. So why is this a fave? It was  a reminder that comments on a blog, Twitter, or Facebook walls sometimes elicit more withering responses than the original post itself. When I posted the comment on this blogger’s wall, I had no idea that it could come across as “pious trout nonsense”. Gave me pause to think. Ironically, The origin of this putdown is ascribed to Christopher Hitchens, a steadfast critic of Christians. So for a moment, in the comment section of a favorite blogger, I got my comeuppance (in a manner of speaking) by a premiere persecutor. Could be worse.

[PS…I did go ahead and delete my comment, and will return to commenting only if it’s affirming…hopefully. Thankful for freedom of speech but don’t need to add to the negative stuff out there.]

3) Kids’ Birthdays – Just want to celebrate briefly the celebration of mileposts. Our oldest granddaughter just turned 1 y/o. She is a social media-free child. Can’t post pictures, so I will use the image below to celebrate both her, and her adorable little 2-month-old cousin.Blog - Grandchild Tshirts

Kids’ birthday parties have just been something we participated in mostly as spectators (over the last decade since our own children became adults). Until now! This week, we hovered over a 1-year-old with cameras aready for her first bites of cake. A struggle with sugar she will battle the rest of her life. This day, however, we celebrate her…and the cake her other sweet grandmother made…and the lovely community she gathers – extended family who love her and love being family with her. [When she is older and decides to do whatever the latest greatest social media will be, I’ll share her pictures.] Blog - Grandchildren BirthdaysP1280069 - Copy

4) Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants – Our city/state has some super finds in restaurants – both little obscure ones and the larger franchises. Kuba-Kuba is one I’ve enjoyed. Wherever you live , there are websites that will point you to hole-in-the-wall restaurants not to miss. Visiting Georgia often to see my Dad/family, I also need to check these out, and our children’s home state has sweet options as well. What are your favorites? [Please share in Comments.]

Blog - Kuba-Kuba - hole in the wall restaurants - only in your statePhoto Credit: Only In Your State

5) A Good Laugh – I’m a pretty serious person, but what a gift to have people in my life who make me laugh. How about you? Do you have people like that In your life? It’s great for your health. Whether it’s cancer, heart disease, or chronic mental distress, laughter is good medicine. My friend, Heba, makes me laugh every time we talk. Every. Single. Time.2006 -- Nov -- Heba & Daniel eating Koshery

Blog - Merry heart - pinterestPhoto Credit: PinterestBlog - a merry heart - powerfulintentionsPhoto Credit: Powerful Intentions

Online, we can also find great helps – like Michael Jr., KevOnStage, Brian Regan, and others…who are your favorites?

Hope your weekend is full of laughter…and at least one of these:Blog - Hanover Tomato Sandwich

 

Heath Has Finished His Race…

Praying for Heath 4Blog - Grace - Brandi & HeathHowever, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24

We all assume we will live long on this earth…but it doesn’t always work that way. For this reason, we are inspired to live as if our years will be short here. Heath did that…

Our friend Heath had the kind of disease that kills people. Don’t even Google it. The thing is…Heath had too much to live for to stop living because of a horrific diagnosis. He lived hard and with all his heart until the day he would come to the end of his earthly life…which was today.

It’s almost impossible to find a picture of him without his family. I decided not to post images of his sweet kids but you will see them in the video below. If ever there was one identified as a family man it was/is Heath. You just always clumped them together…what a joy that was for all of us…and for him.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:12

Heath

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. – 1 Corinthians 9:13

It’s just been a couple of hours since we heard of his Homegoing so I really don’t have many words…except to say thank you, Heath. For your life of faithfulness. For your enduring love for God, your family, friends, and the people with whom you worked and neighbored here in the US and overseas. Thank you, for the kindness of your heart and your fierce courage. Thank you, for staying fully in this life for as long as you could. You will be missed something awful. Your legacy has only begun.

A very close friend of Heath and his family posted this video on YouTube. Thanks, Wray, for this.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Heath fought a good fight; he finished his course; he kept the faith… for us there is still a race to be run…and to finish.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23

YouTube Video – When It’s All Been Said and Done – Robin Mark

Postscript – We do not fight our battles or run our races alone…how thankful I am for a loving and all-powerful God who draws near in our distresses. He is perfect in how He saves and gives us aid. Heath did not live as long as we would have desired, but he lived so well. God healed him on the other side…I don’t understand that and won’t until Heaven, but I trust God in this. He gives His children what we need always. What God gave Heath was Himself and a wife, parents, children, physicians, and friends who fought hard for him and with him as he battled this cancer. May they know the tenderness of God’s presence now as before…and may they know, as Heath knows now, the “Well done” in the knowledge that they did all they could do.

5 Friday Faves – Video Games, NFL Man of the Year, Hospitality, Writing, and Animal Courage

Blog - Friday Faves

It’s that glorious Friday again. Here are my favorite finds of the week:

1) Video Games – What is the appeal of video games for our boys and men? It is a mystery to me. I do understand the gaming camaraderie between players – some friends, some strangers who become friends, kinda sorta. The cutting-edge graphics designed mostly for the eyes of our guys are clearly appealing. And levels…oh, the levels keep our boys and men coming back for the challenge – the competition on an even playing field – without judging from outsiders. Well, except for the occasional run-ins with wife or mother. Lastly, it’s the welcome mindlessness, I’m thinking. The momentary escape from organic chemistry, or frustrating job, or Master’s thesis, or [fill in the blank].

We all have indulgent time-wasters, and I battled with my boys over video games more than I should have. My regret over that transformed into joy this week, as the guitarist son of mine actually turned a video game theme into a lovely work on classical guitar. Who would have thought it? To see Nathan smile (at minute 1:40 in video) makes me wonder at the sweet memory he has of that game’s music. Hello again, Legend of Zelda. Don’t remember you like this.

2) NFL Man of the Year – I’m not a big football fan, but when we came across the NFL Honors program the night before the Superbowl I was intrigued. Football seems all about leaving it on the field. This was a salute to a band of brothers and the stand-outs among them, both on the field and off. There were three nominees for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for 2015 – Anquan Boldin, Eli Manning, and Benjamin Watson. Each man’s character and philanthropic work were highlighted in video vignettes. With all the tabloid coverage of the antics of some of our professional athletes, it was inspiring to see how others spend their off-season time. Anquan Boldin, the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver, received this year’s award from the Payton family. Read more about Anquan’s work in the global community here.Blog - NFL Man of the Year 2016 - Anquan Boldin (2)Photo Credit: Mercury News

Another highlight of the Man of the Year NFL Honors focus was a welcome reminder of Benjamin Watson and his redemptive statement on Facebook (regarding the 2014 Ferguson Decision). In this profession of moneyed celebrity, it was refreshing to see upclose the caliber of such men as Boldin, Manning, and Watson.

3) Hospitality – Hospitality is defined at Google as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” We live in a culture today of “come as you are; just hanging out with friends; bring your own food/beverage”. I love the comfortable sound and easy experience of that. However, I hope we don’t lose the great global habit of extending generous hospitality – where nothing is expected but the welcome presence of the guest. We lived for many years in North Africa where they expect hospitality of themselves and they lavish it on their guests. Even in the poorest of homes, the cookies and fruit are beautifully presented, and the tea is poured with great ceremony. I learned so much from my Arab and Berber friends and neighbors…and don’t want to forget ever to extend hospitality. There is a difference between service and hospitality – described in TED Talks and distinctive in industry. [I wrote about this here.]

“Hospitality is about looking out instead of looking in…I can look outward and help someone else.”Bobby Stuckey.  The Bible is full of examples of hospitality and encouragements toward it. We are to extend blessing even as far as to our enemies. Benjamin Corey writes eloquently about this Biblical hospitality. Finally, Rosaria Butterfield, in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert says this: “Hospitality means bringing the stranger in…you have to meet and respect people where they are…I believe strongly that hospitality is just the ground zero of the Christian life, and of evangelism, and of everything else that we do, apart from the formal worship of God.” Blog - Hospitality - The Secret THoughts of an Unlikely Convert - Rosaria ButterfieldPhoto Credit: Amazon.com

It’s good to remember that we can extend hospitality in a less-than-perfect house, where toys are still scattered and books a bit piled. It’s more the attitude of the heart in celebrating the other. Also, by definition, hospitality doesn’t have to be based in the home. I will never forget spotting a friend, whose husband was also in graduate school, walking up my driveway, with a pot of coffee and favorite mugs. It turned my morning of home-schooling littles in something altogether other. Extending hospitality…mobile and on-the-fly.Blog - Hospitality

4) Writing – I am always grateful for help in this skill of writing. Finding Chris Bailey’s blog (A Life of Productivity) and book (The Productivity Project) was a great boon to organizing my life and writing (my notes here). Daniel Darling’s blog this past week was another huge encouragement. He writes on how to be a prolific writer.

Darling gives 6 helps in writing: 1) I don’t wait for inspiration, for a cabin next to a mountain stream, or a light bulb. I just write; 2) I write from my passions on topics that interest me; 3) Always be cultivating and chronicling ideas; 4) I try to be curious and always learning; 5) I write in short bursts, in the margins of life; and 6) I try not to be a jerk. Don’t miss how he fills out the story on these points on his blog.Blog - Writing & Journaling - Joy List

5) Animal Courage – When our kids were small and we were living overseas, we took with us this wildlife video entitled The Bear. Like other children’s videos (a lot from Disney), there were story bits that needed processing with a loving adult (like how often the mom dies in these stories…sigh). The Bear was filmed with an intentionality of demonstrating the real life struggle of life in the wild for these animals. Also depicted was the almost-human qualities of care and courage in these animals. I have used one scene of this movie in talks over the years on how gracious it is to have an advocate. One stronger or more influential than we are who stands with us, sometimes out of sight, against an adversary. The plot story involves a bear cub, orphaned when his mother dies (again?!) and an older adult male, beleaguered himself by hunters and the sheer strain of survival sometimes, who becomes the cub’s protector. Here’s the scene (fast-forward to minute 2:30 for time’s sake if needed).

I love this scene. It actually reminds me of us sometimes…and God. We stand as tall as we can and roar (like a wee cub) against the wrongs of this world – wrongs against us sometimes. We are not always aware, but the LORD (I believe from experience and His Word) issues a God-sized roar against those same wrongs. Our adversaries will be reckoned with.

YouTube Video – Scene from the film The Bear, 1988 (Cub & Cougar at 2:30 into scene)

Film The Bear

Top Ten Most Courageous Animals

Happy Friday! Have a weekend full of extending and receiving hospitality, quiet times of refreshment, and reflection on the God who watches over us. Also, hug those video-gaming men of yours…when they take a break (don’t want them to lose a level in the midst of wrestling them down to the floor), right? Right.

Any favorites you want to share? Or memories…or words of wisdom. Would love to hear them (Comment below).

Pixar’s Inside Out – and a Second Thought on Joy & Sadness

Blog - Inside Out - Theology of Sadness - scpr.org

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.Psalm 30:5

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4

My husband and I watched Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out this weekend. It was so stressful. We wondered how children managed coping with the anxiousness of the story. Riley, the heroine of the film, is an 11y/o who moved with her parents far away from her hometown. The story tells how she deals with that move with the help of her emotions (5 in particular – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust).

Happy, happy, happy little Joy is the moon-faced, darling emotion of Riley’s. The tension in the story is Joy’s attempt at damage control as little Sadness begins coloring some of Riley’s happy memories “blue”. The plot twists and turns as Joy tries to right Riley’s world.  She is pulled into a journey with Sadness alongside and spends most of the film trying to get back to Riley’s “presence of mind”. Meanwhile, Anger, Fear, and Disgust do what they can to help Riley maneuver through her day…without Joy and Sadness’s help. It’s a scary prospect.

I’m thinking children must get caught up in the adventure, the mesmerizing visuals and the familiar faces of these emotions. For me, it was just stressful.

I have a huge respect and admiration for Ed Catmull after hearing him speak at Global Leadership Summit 2015. Catmull heads the work of Disney/Pixar Animation Studios. Dave recently read his book Creativity, Inc. and so enjoyed it that I’m reading it also.

Blog - GLobal Leadership Summit - Ed Catmull by brainpickings.orgPhoto Credit: Brainpickings.org

Watching Inside Out, my mind wandered to the creative teams at Disney/Pixar. What were they thinking?! Then later, I had second thoughts on the film…after watching bits again as our youngest son, visiting over the weekend, watched it on pay-per-view.

He, too, also thought it was stressful, but as I watched his face, watching the film…I saw what we might have missed as older ones watching. Wonder, surprise, vexation, empathy. In the strong face of this young man, I saw the response to the film maybe hoped for by the creators. The audience identifying with the film…and in the end…understanding and a sweet resolution of the seeming conflict between Joy and Sadness.

On that second watching (both the film and watching my son watching), I liked Inside Out much better. It helped me to Google that great “Aha!” moment of Joy’s – when she discovered:

“Sadness…Mom and Dad, the team…they came to help because of sadness.”

No spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the film, but for me, a couple of articles really resonated (see below). I struggle personally with sadness which shades the joy I also experience.  Then that same joy re-colors the sadness, bringing perspective and healing. Josh Larsen, in an article on the Think Christian website, wrote beautifully about this film’s message (at a deeper level):

It’s a rich subject – one mined with Pixar’s usual combination of wit, intelligence and emotional resonance – and also one that echoes a Christian understanding of the human experience. Christianity, after all, is an expression of joy in response to – not in denial of – deep sadness…we can’t fully understand our place in God’s story unless we’ve experienced sadness of some sort. It isn’t until we recognize the deep sorrow of this world – the Fall, and our perpetuation of its effects – that we can fully appreciate the almost laughable generosity of Christ’s redemptive act. And only then will we know true joy, the fairy-tale ending that is God’s restoration of His creation. – Josh Larsen

Toward the end of the film, there’s a lovely moment between Riley and her parents. She finally comes to terms with her deep sadness in moving away from home. It’s a place all of us have been if we linger with a person grieving…a person who knows we love them.

I was reminded how sadness sometimes  overtakes us and it’s best confronted head-on in all its real…on-another’s-shoulder…Riley, tears spilling down her face, doesn’t hold back as she pours out her grief to her parents. As they cradle her into their arms they, too, confess their own sadness.  Then it happens…that last wet-faced shudder into Daddy’s chest; that deep sigh…all cried out.

That’s what we love about Disney/Pixar…and the God-given emotions of joy and sadness…especially when love is in the mix.

Inside Out and a Theology of Sadness – Josh Larsen, Think Christian

Many critics love Pixar’s ‘Inside Out.’ Not this guy.

Inside Out Quotes

All 15 Pixar Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

The Planned Parenthood Protest – 5 Questions & a Guarded Observance

Planned parenthood Protest beginningYou formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.Psalm 139:13-14

A friend invited me to join her in a protest this morning. A protest against Planned Parenthood. It’s been many years since I’ve participated in such a public outcry. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the protest…thinking “what will it accomplish?” We are so polarized as a culture along such lines. Then I read John Piper’s appeal out of which this nationwide event seemed to have originated.

My Facebook status yesterday revealed my struggle, after reading the article above:

I’ve been invited to a protest Saturday – it is a moral dilemma for me. What will protesting do if I’ve done little else? Protesting is a step …because something has to give here…something has to change. It’s bigger than the group being protested…it’s as big as our culture and our willingness to turn away from human suffering…at all extremes of life. God, help us. We have to wake up. We have to pray…and be willing to reach out to those around us in dire straits…starting with the tiniest ones, and forward. If you don’t read anything else of the article linked, read the last paragraph – my stomach so knotted up, I thought I was going to vomit.

Part of the turmoil in my head and heart was wrestling with how to love like God loves. God loves these babies. God loves those who conceived them. God loves the personnel and supporters of Planned Parenthood. What do we do with all that?

I guardedly decided to go to the protest…tuned to that love of God…

Planned Parenthood in our town is open for business 7 days a week. Arriving shortly after this Planned Parenthood center opened and before the crowd fully gathered, I was more an observer. Right away, I was glad I went. There were so many already there, well-organized, passionate yet peaceful, gentle souls. Just being with them, I could see what some of my next steps will be.

One sign particularly caught my attention. “I regret my abortion.”Planned Parenthood Protest - I Regret My AbortionThis took me back many years to a dear single friend who got pregnant at a very inconvenient and difficult time. She saw no other recourse but to abort, with the committed urging of her boyfriend at the time.  Then they broke up. That was 30 years ago, and she never, to her knowledge, conceived again. She grieved her decision just weeks after…and she’s mourned it ever since.

Planned Parenthood Protest - Looking Out for the Little Guy

Some at this protest today wore these blue t-shirts with the byline “watching out for the little guys”. Given the videos being published in the last several days exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal organs, we must consider really what is happening here. I can’t watch those videos, but a friend, mother of twins, told me when she watched the most recent one featuring a later-term fetus, she said her babies weren’t much bigger at birth. It really hit home for her!

We must re-think what’s happening in abortion. We must also consider and care for the mothers of these little ones. Also, it caused me to wonder again, “where are the fathers?” It’s like the incident during Jesus’ ministry, when the religious leaders were preparing to stone a woman “caught in the act, in the very act” of adultery. Jesus essentially rescued her from these men…her partner didn’t need rescuing…he wasn’t there. I believe there are supportive fathers going through these painful situations with their wives or partners…but too many women have to make these decisions without the support that could turn the tide for them.

My questions come at this juncture:

  1. What more can I do? – besides protest or support a particular political candidate? Neither of these seem to make much of a difference lately. I’m beginning to ask questions and am determined to be more accountable in this…for what could be my part in this.
  2. What more can the church do? Or others collectively whose eyes are opening to atrocities beyond our imagining. Even if it’s not universal, if it’s happening anywhere, it could happen everywhere. What are options we can genuinely support? Adoption. Fostering children. Supporting the moms. Public awareness. Educating young people to make wise choices.
  3. Is there a better way to serve? What education is best? What financial aid is most empowering/beneficial? What care is needed? Could our schools and community health centers serve the needs of these most vulnerable without the help of Planned Parenthood? We can’t just condemn what is out there, if we are not willing to be a part of something better. I’m going to be asking more questions along these lines…and will let you know what I find out.
  4. Is the clinical need for fetal tissue in the treatment of some diseases circumventing finding a better solution to these illnesses? It’s like with pornography, is the demand feeding the supply? We must raise questions about and fund research for the use of adult stem cells or other remedies in the treatment of these debilitating diseases. We are just assuming fetal tissue is the answer.
  5. Who are those crying out against the racial side of abortion? I want to join them. Statistically, most abortions in the US are performed on black women. Why isn’t there an outcry over that? If this population is the most vulnerable, let’s work together to determine a more substantive way to help them, other than just getting rid of all those precious babies.

Planned Parenthood Protest - signsPlanned Parenthood Protest

Abortion is not going away. We will never, I don’t believe, return to the days before Roe v. Wade. We do have to find a better way…we have to.

Abortion and Race

If Planned Parenthood Loses Government Funding, Here’s a Map of Health Clinics That Could Take Its Place

Planned Parenthood: Invitation, Explanation, Indignation – John Piper

Ben Carson vs. Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger: Her own words circa 1939

Stem Cell FAQs – What are Stem Cells?

Hundreds protest at Planned Parenthood on Hamilton Avenue in Richmond

Pregnancy Resource Center of Metro Richmond

Amazing Raise – Fund-raising Campaign for Pregnancy Resource Center of Metro Richmond

Crisis Pregnancy Center – Bethany Christian Services

Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter

Planned Parenthood Protest - Pray

An Uncle Like Abraham – Do You Have One? Would You Be One?

Blog - Uncle Bob - Abraham (2)Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people.

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most HighWho has delivered your enemies into your hand.”Genesis 14:11-16, 19-20

Abram (Abraham), the father of many nations, had a nephew, Lot. This nephew didn’t make wise choices. We are probably familiar with the story of God’s rescue of Lot prior to His destruction of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18, 19). The story of Abraham’s rescue of his nephew may not be as familiar, but it gives testament to a good uncle, one we would all love to have.

At church last week, the question was posed, “What would it be like to have an uncle like Abraham?” I’ve been thinking about that question all week. On my side of the family, no uncle came to mind (extended family separated by distance, disposition, or divorce). I do have great brothers, dad, and dad-in-law…but uncles? Not like that.

Dave has an uncle who came to mind at the posing of the question. Uncle Bob. He is a man of great faith and love. He has a deeply generous heart toward others, and never seems to meet a stranger. He has always been kind and encouraging to Dave, all his life. Last year, he became very ill, and we went to see him, just to be near him for a few hours. We live states away and miss family times together. Thankfully, he’s doing much better and continues in his Abrahamic ways.Nancy & Bob Wink Jan. 2015 (2)

Our children have good uncles – some belonging to the family and some who have “adopted” them, during our life overseas. Our two who are married asked two of those “adopted uncles” to officiate at their weddings. Such was the character and love of those men.

Dec 04 #1 039

What is it to be a man like Abraham as uncle to his nephew, Lot? I see four distinctives in him related to his relationship with his nephew. These inspire us to be this kind of family – as Abraham to was to Lot – in the lives of those God has placed in our lives.

  • Abraham treated the younger Lot with respect and generosity. When Lot made a very self-serving choice in the division of land, Abraham did not object, entrusting himself to God. (Genesis 13)
  • Abraham responded without hesitation when Lot was in trouble. Lot chose to live in the city of Sodom, putting himself and his family in harm’s way. When a marauding band of foreign kings swept into Sodom, they captured the people and confiscated the goods of all the city’s dwellers. Word came to Abraham that Lot was taken, and he acted immediately. Whether Lot deserved saving or not didn’t seem to matter. Abraham’s response was that of “you don’t mess with my family”.
  • Abraham sought nothing in return for what he did for Lot. After his victory against the kings, Abraham returned Lot, and all the people and goods to Sodom. He refused any reward, acknowledging only the provision of God. Genesis 14:22-24
  • Abraham did not forget Lot but prayed for him in other times of trouble. There are times when a good uncle fights costly battles for their family, using their own personal resources. Other times, all he can do is fight in prayer. Yet, this may be the highest sacrifice he could make for Lot. When God Himself decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham interceded for Lot and his family. He prayed hard, this time entrusting Lot to a righteous God. Because of Abraham’s prayer, Lot was spared. Genesis 19

Are you an uncle like Abraham? Would you be one, with God’s help? It’s so easy to give up on the younger generation (and sometimes for the younger generation to give up on the older). God calls us to a different path. To be generous, and long-suffering with each other. To love, and fight for, and pray for our families – including those He’s made our family along the way.

How thankful we are for uncles like Abraham! What a grace from God they are! What the world would be like…if we took up those Abrahamic battles for our own nephews, nieces, sons, and daughters…and other family laid into our charge.

Do you have an uncle like Abraham? Either in your family or as if he were? Please use Comments to tell something about him/them. We will all be encouraged.Dave & TomDave & Sam

The Rescue of Lot (Genesis 14:1-24) – Fascinating Bible Study by Bob Deffinbaugh

Abram Rescues Lot and Meets Melchizedek

Extreme Love – Abraham Saves Lot – SlideShare

Abram Rescues Lot! – Children’s Chapel

Fathering – Celebrating Men Who Did It Well; Forgiving Men Who Didn’t

Blog - Father's Day - Calvin & HobbsPhoto Credit: Calvin & Hobbs from the blog of Kenneth Reeds

“As to my children, you are now to be left fatherless, which I hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a Father who will never fail you.”Jonathan Edwards, his last words to his children, as he lay dying

Fathering, like mothering, is not an easy job. So much dying to self. So much responsibility. What a delight for us when the men in our lives take fathering on their shoulders as they might a sleeping child. Surrendering themselves to the serving of those younger than them. I thank God for men who humble themselves in prayer for their children and who go to work every day to support their families. Working, studying, and life-long learning passed on to their children and others.

These dads are too-often taken for granted in the shadow of fathering that falls short. The absent, neglectful and downright abusive fathers cut wounds so deep that decent fathers are sometimes judged by the same measure. We watch for “the sins of the fathers to be revisited on their children” (Numbers 14:18).

Today, let’s reflect on the good fathers. Those who were present at our births, or those who came later in life to us, or those who father us out of their own great hearts. Imperfect, sure. All of us are. Yet, there are those men who go many more than second miles for us, and we are grateful.Blog - Father DaveThis dad who took his family to Cairo, Egypt. Our children have had such rich lives as they saw their dad work and relate way out of his comfort zone. What great memories and relationships we have because of his willingness to take us on such a journey.2009 May Trip to Scotland 169Blog - No Life Wasted 10 2006 -- Aug -- Dave, Nathan, Daniel in Vienna

 “My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border, O,
And carefully he bred me in decency and order, O;
He bade me act a manly part, though I had ne’er a farthing, O;
For without an honest manly heart, no man was worth regarding, O.”
– Robert Burns, ‘My Father Was a Farmer: A Ballad’*

Blog - Dad, or Papa, and Debbie - Father's DayMy Dad. Not my biological father (who I talk about here) but the only dad I’ve ever known. So thankful for him…and his love…and joy in life (even in this season of Alzheimer’s).

“Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?” – Robert Hayden, ‘Those Winter Sundays’*
BLog - Father's Day - PopPop JohnMy sweet dad- and mom-in-love. What an amazing thing to enjoy the love of people who didn’t have to love me, just because their son did. I thank God for this dad and this mom who opened their hearts to receive a daughter, as if I was born to them.
Nathan, Bekkah, Rachel & Sam JamesThose fathers who treat us as sons and daughters – gracious, generous, affirming, empowering. Fathers (and mothers, these Godly wives) whose faces reflect the face of God to us.
Grateful for these fathers…and others like them. Young and old. Fathers who give us a glimpse of the Father of all creation, who loves us…and sees us…and waits for us…and knows us by name.**
Hoping you have fathers to reflect on joyfully today…if not so much, hoping you can take joy and comfort in the Father who loves you perfectly. 
Blog - Father's Day - B. C. comic
Photo Credit: B. C. Comics
2009 May Trip to Scotland 339