Monday, January 14, 2013

How do I explain my feelings right now? Even if I try, it probably won’t make any sense. But I sit here with a picture taken yesterday and have to decide if it’s “okay” for me to share it. It’s not like it’s anything risqué or something I would have been shamed to have someone see. It’s just me hugging the man I share DNA with, who my entire speaking life I have called “Daddy”.

The thing is, it feels like a betrayal of my Dad’s memory. I know logically it isn't a betrayal. It doesn't mean I love or miss my Dad any less. He never wanted or asked me to not have a relationship with the man who sired me. So, I shouldn't feel guilty for going to see him to tell him I am moving away... but somehow I do. And the visit brought out so much emotion and I’m not quite sure where to put it all, so I’ve decided to put it here.

I miss my Dad. I miss that we saw each other’s flaws, and loved each other anyway. I miss that he expected more from me than I often expected from myself. He came out to support my interests even when they were not his. He was there for birthdays, and graduations, and on my wedding day he walked me down the aisle. He taught me to drive, he taught me to be responsible, he taught me to be generous, he taught me to be forgiving. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if he hadn’t been there every day of my life for almost 25 years.

By missing my Dad and everything I had with him, I realized how much I miss the relationship I never had with the man who looks at me and still sees his baby girl. He wasn’t there for many birthdays. He wasn’t there for graduations. We never talked about what he expected from me or what he thought was important in life. I never got to know him as a person or an adult. I didn’t invite him to my wedding because I didn’t know how to do that without hurting him or hurting my Dad or hurting myself. And here I sit again, feeling fairly similar to then. Only now, one of them is getting older and one of them is gone forever and I hurt either way.

In a perfect world I wouldn't have to miss or choose. But this world is broken and so am I and so is everyone else. Instead of sitting here crying over relationships that weren’t or aren’t or are no more… I will try to find comfort in the relationships I do have. Like the one I have with my perfect heavenly Father. The One who gave me a Dad and a Daddy. The One who’s sovereignty guides my life. And I know that all this He will use for His glory and my good – even if I can’t see it right this second.

So, I will put up the picture that was taken yesterday. Even though I can’t reconcile my feelings right now – I know God is doing a work in my heart and I should share it.

Me and Daddy - Up Home.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Dad and a Hookah Bar...

My Dad was a lot of things.

He was a son. He was a husband. He was a father. He was a disciplinarian. He was a provider. He was a boss. He was an employee. He was a world traveler – maybe even a spy. That’s a lot of things to be, especially at one time. Many of those titles he carried caused him stress. Especially the ‘father’ one.

I know I caused more grey hairs than I should have. Dad and I had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least. We butted heads more times than I can count. It took me a long time to see him as more than the interloper who took my mom’s attention away, and even longer to see him as more than just my disciplinarian. It took me longer still to see him as a Father who loved me and was just doing what he thought was right, the best way he knew how.

One of the things that helped me see my dad in a new light was the letter he sent to me when I was away at a Christian retreat. I thank God for the blessing that letter has brought to me. It is a treasured possession. When I read it I can hear his voice now that he is gone. Having a father share in his own words about his feelings and his reasons for living his life the way he did, is not something every child gets. I am grateful for the gift of it.

One of the other things that helped me to see my dad differently was a trip several years ago to a hookah bar.

After having a less than ideal dinner celebration for mom’s birthday at the Cheesecake Factory, we were getting ready to head home when I commented on a conversation I overheard in the ladies room. Upon expressing my ignorance over not knowing what in the world a hookah bar was, my Dad decided an education was in order. After an incredulous “You don’t know what a hookah bar is!?” he made a (possibly illegal) U-Turn and drove us to Sahara, in Sterling.

This is where I saw something akin to the rarity of an actual bigfoot sighting. I saw my Dad relax. I saw his barriers sort of melt away. His posture changed, his attitude changed, everything changed as soon as the hookah was put in front of him. Yes my dad took charge of the evening and our experience, but more like an excited kid wanting to share something enjoyed than a know-it-all trying to show off to the uneducated. He taught me a lot that night. He showed me that hot tea is better with some fresh mint in it and that a restaurant can be a home away from home. We had a wonderful time and I got to see what my dad was like as just a man instead of a father, a disciplinarian, a provider, a boss…

My Dad died a year ago tomorrow. Surprisingly, I’ve found I miss all the things that annoyed me when he was alive. All those times I would sigh and shake my head and say “oh, Dad!”. Even the things that irritated me… what I wouldn’t give to butt heads with him one more time! But over this past year, when I’ve missed him the most – when I’ve wanted to feel close to him in some way – I’ve gone back to the hookah bar. I can’t help but think the man I saw that night is who he would want me to remember. And I’m not the only person that remembers him when I go there.

You see, Dad apparently spent more time at Sahara than anyone knew. So much time that he had his own waiter. When I went there for the first time a few months after his death I took his picture with me. As we went to leave I felt compelled to tell the people there that he wouldn’t be coming back anymore. When I shared the picture with the woman who had served us (one of the owners) she recognized Dad immediately. She commented on how funny and wonderful he had always been and quickly called out to one of the other workers to go get Sameer. When Sameer came and I told him that Dad had died, he cried. He asked if he could keep the picture because Dad had been his friend. A year later, Sameer has his own hookah bar and remembers my father who was his friend. He is my friend now too. Every time I see Sameer, I am reminded that we share a picture of my Dad as a person not a lot of people got to see.

I miss my Dad a lot. I wish I had the chance to get to know him better as a person instead of all those other titles he carried that weighed him down so much. I love you, Dad. I’ll see you and Sameer tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Preparing for the Day:

In Mark 1:37 it talks about how Everyone is looking for Jesus. Granted, a few verses before this (21-34) He’s teaching in the synagogue as if he was the author of what he’s teaching (with authority) and he’s healed a bunch of people and cast out demons. I would imagine those things not only drew attention to Him, but maybe made people want a lot more from him. Of course, maybe not everyone wanted something from him, but it does say that everyone was looking for him. Which made me wonder if anyone else was trying to use that situation to their advantage.

Immediately I thought about Satan’s direct temptation of Christ in the wilderness (Mark 1:13). Now, after 40 days of tempting doesn’t work, would Satan just give up? I don’t think he works that way. I think if a direct approach doesn’t work, he tries an indirect one instead. For example – using other people. It works on me all the time. Too much attention and praise – I fall to pride. The demand of other people and their needs – I fall to impatience and unrighteous anger. And I know I’m not the only one that falls short when other people enter the equation. I mean, his reaction to people’s complaints is what kept Moses from stepping foot into the promised land. So I tried to put myself in the metaphorical shoes of The Great Tempter. I thought, if one moment of temper ‘caused’ by a bunch of sinners was good enough to trip up Moses, just maybe it could work on Christ.

But see, Christ isn’t just any man. For one thing, he’s omniscient – so he knows what’s going to happen. And because he knows what’s going to happen, he can prepare. Which made me wonder about how he prepared to deal with all these people who were looking for him, who wanted a piece of him and who satan could potentially use to try and cause him to fail. How did he prepare for his day and what can I learn from it?

Well, in Mark 1:35 it says that He went early in the morning, before it was even light outside, away from the house (where people were) to a secluded (quiet and private) place to pray to God. He began his day asking God what He wanted before any imperfect person had a chance to ask him anything else. He consulted with His Father and listened to Him speak. And I can too. I have the capability to get my behind up out of bed early enough to go to a quiet place and talk to my Heavenly Father. I have the opportunity to listen to God’s direction for me each morning before all the clamor and noise intrudes from my daily routine. I have the gift of spending time with God every morning because he loves me and what do I do?

Well, this morning I hit the snooze button. Effectively, this is the conversation that could have happened:
God: (by way of my alarm clock buzzing) Good morning! Rise and shine! Let’s spend some time together!
Me: (by hitting the snooze button the first time) Ummm, no thanks. I think I just want to sleep a little longer. I’m kind of tired.
God: (by buzzing again) How about now, daughter? You ready to hear about what great things I have planned for you today?
Me: (hitting the buzzer again) Aaaaaahhhhhhhh, not really. I think I’d rather just get a LITTLE more sleep.
God: (not going off again till I HAD to get up) Okay. If that’s what you really want.

Granted, in the moment, that bed sure was comfy, but looking back on the day I’ve had today… I was extremely short tempered and cranky all day long. It’s no one’s fault but my own. God gave me so many opportunities to talk to Him in the still, in the quiet, so that I could prepare. But I turned him down. And who wins when that happens? Definitely not me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Just Balance and Scales BELONG to the LORD...

Proverbs 16:11 says: A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; All the weights of the bag are His concern.

Just giving it a cursory reading it says to me: Renee, justice belongs to God, and the fairness/unfairness are his concern, not yours. Which seems like it’s telling me to quit complaining about life not being fair because it’s not my concern, it’s Gods.

But is there something more to this verse that my superficial reading is missing?

Shall we get out the dictionary and break it down?

First up: A just balance and scales belong to the LORD.
Just is a synonym for Fair.
Balance and scales are the things that items are measured with.
Belong can mean that something is the property of someone or something else – the just and balanced scales are the property of God.


Belong can also mean to be an attribute, part or function of a person or thing – the just and balanced scales are an attribute of God, part of who He is.

Instead of telling me simply that Justice belongs to God (which is true) it could also be telling me that Part of God’s very nature is being fair and just.

Next up: All the weights of the bag are His concern.
All the weights of the bag refers to the standard used to measure. There should be one weight but sometimes people would use differing weights in their bag to cheat others.
Concern can be defined as ‘being the business of’ again, making my original understanding that the weights of the bag are his business, not mine accurate.

Concern can also mean ‘to care’. Meaning that He cares about all the weights of the bags and in turn their fairness/unfairness.

Now we have two sort of different views on this verse:

Renee, justice belongs to God and the fairness/unfairness is his business not yours.
Renee, God’s very nature is being fair and just; which is why he cares about the fairness of the weights of the bag.

Both things are necessary for me to hear.

Knowing that by His own nature God is Fair and Just and that He cares about the weights of the bag (fairness in measure) helps me. Focusing on His desire for justice and fairness helps release some of my own desire to be in charge of the scales which belong to Him. It helps me to see that it’s okay for me to give up my desire to exact my own payment and compensation when I believe the weight’s in the bag are deceptive and false because I know God, who does everything perfectly, will mete out justice perfectly as well.

No, things will not be perfect here on earth. Yes I will have to deal with life not being fair. I will constantly long for fairness and justice – which is right and good. However, I can be freed from the burden of holding onto bitterness and a desire to retaliate against the injustice and unfairness I have and will face here on earth. How? By realizing that one day all of that will be taken care of by someone with far more power than I will ever have. I can let go and instead of worrying with justice I can concern myself with trying harder to show God’s Love and Mercy – which I am so thankful I receive in abundance every day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If Glory means Weight

This morning I learned that another word for Glory was weight. That information has sort of been niggling in my brain all day, hence the post.  Let me forewarn you - it is going to be pretty stream of conciousness - so please forgive me.  It's not going to be the prettiest of posts but it's how my mind was working today and I wanted to get it down before it escaped me. 

If Glory means weight, what does that change?
      Weight is (usually) something that can be measured.

What do we use to measure weight?
     A scale.

When I think of a scale what image comes to mind?

With that type of scale, there are two places for the weights to sit… why?
    Because you are measuring one thing against another.

A definition for weight can be the relative (measure of) importance or authority accorded something/someone or the measurable influence it has on other’s.

Based on that definition, what is it that I’m trying to weigh?
     God’s importance/authority/influence

And what am I weighing against God’s Glory?
     Everything I give importance/authority/influence to.

Why should I weigh everything against God?
     How else can I see the truth of what really is getting the “glory” in my eyes?

What does that change?
    Like the “scales of justice” I am too often blind. Not only are the weight’s of my scale imbalanced, they’re imbalanced because of false weights! Instead of giving the Glory to God’s side of the scales, I give importance to the world, to other people, to other things.

1 Peter 4:11

Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in ALL things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Broken Girl

Just heard this song today and it really touched my heart and I wanted to share it.  Not everyone has this specific issue in their life, but I feel like a lot of us living in this broken world might identify with the "broken girl" in this song. 

Broken Girl Video

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If Anger was Coffee…

So today I was talking to a wise woman about anger. Specifically my anger. She asked me if she had told me about the story about the cup and when I admitted that she hadn’t, she smiled. She picked up her cup of Starbucks and held it in her hand and asked me:

“If I took the lid off this cup, held it in one hand and hit it as hard as I could with the other hand, what would happen?”

“Well,” I said, “It would spill out.”
“What would spill out?” She prompted.
“The coffee…” I said, more confused than when this conversation began.

She smiled a bit more. “Yes! And if I went to the kitchen and emptied the cup and filled it with water and came back, held it in one hand and hit it as hard as I could with the other, what would happen?”

Suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped, I got it “Water would spill out!”

In that moment a very vivid picture sprang to mind of me being a cup, full up to the top with coffee (in my mind a dirty combination of sin mixed with good intentions – sort of a liquid version of filthy rags if you will). When I get hit obviously something is bound to come out of me – it’s only natural. Now the person doing the hitting might be the ‘cause’ of the splash, but they don’t determine what that splash is made of – I do. See, whatever is inside of me is what comes out. I can either be full of coffee or I can be full something else - like water, that doesn’t leave a huge stain when it ends up all over the floor.

It wasn’t until later when I was mulling this over that I something occurred to me. I was thinking about wanting to be a cup full of water – how appealing that thought was, when suddenly it dawned on me that I am full of water - Living Water.

John 7:37-38

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’”

As a believer of Christ I have the ability to allow living water flow out of my heart. I have the ability to be a water glass and not a coffee cup. In fact, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could be a water pitcher and let that beautiful living water just spill everywhere I go? But, let’s face it – instead of being a pitcher or even a water glass, I’m a coffee cup – some days I rinse myself out and try to be a water glass. Other days, I get knocked over and realize I didn’t rinse as well as I thought because when I look down there’s coffee all over the floor again.

Still, because of Christ, I know that I have the power to decide if that coffee spilling out is going to be a lot or if I’m going to grab my cup and put a God size lid on it before I make a big ole mess. It’s definitely something to work on, and towards. Just the thought of tackling such a big job has left me thirsty. Better go grab some water.