MOM and POP
Why does God let bad things happen to good people? There may be some who might have wondered this, I'm sure, many times in their life, but I definitely have on 2 specific occasions over the last 7 years.
I always felt as though I grew up having a relationship with God. I was a Christian, raised in a Christian home, had Christian friends, etc.....but did I really have a relationship with God? No, not really. I was a luke-warm Christian. Yes, the kind that God said he would spit out because he'd rather you be hot or cold, and I was neither. I was going through life playing the good Christian. You know... going to church, saying all the right things, serving here and there, praying to God, raising my kids to say the right things & act a certain way, and so on and so forth; but I never dug down deep to know whom God really was in my life. Through the different levels of maturity in my life (marriage, children, etc.) came different levels in my spiritual maturity as well. My soul-searching deepened, and my quest to know what really mattered in life was more fervent. What I have learned? The more I come to know God the more I realize how much I don't know!!
With honor, I'd like to introduce to you my mom and dad.
My parents taught me not by word alone but also (MUCH) by their actions.
They taught me that prayer is of the utmost importance. Prayer was like 2nd nature in EVERY matter; It was just normal in my household. I am thankful for that. Tithing was another important lesson I remember my parents teaching me and my siblings. My parents worked hard for their money, and even though they didn't have much of it, they taught us to ALWAYS give back to God. Why? Because whatever we have is ours ONLY because HE allowed it, for every good thing comes from above.
There are many other lessons that were learned from my parents as they tried their hardest to raise a family that loved & respected & feared God, and help us build that firm foundation; but it has been through the storms of life that I really began to understand what it means to seek the face of God and to lean on Him as my one and only firm foundation in good times and in bad. It has been the storms that have drawn me nearer Him, and it is the storms that keep me there, because my God, my Father, knows that I am a weak flesh and one that can easily take for granted His abundant grace and mercy. When things are all daisies and candy canes, sometimes we tend to forget that He is still present and wants to be involved in every detail of our everyday life. When all others fail me....when it feels like the earth is shattering around me....when things seem so uncertain in my life....God is a constant. His word says, and promises, that He is the way, the truth, and the life.
THE one and only truth.
Not MY way (nor My comfort, nor what I think it should be).
Not what I "THINK" is the truth.
Not MY life.
It has been the storms that have brought me back, over and over again, to the foundation of what my parents have built in me through many years of discipling. But that's just it. One can either let the storms of life inch them closer and closer to God, allowing Him to reveal those things that can only be understood as we are in pursuit of Him; or one can allow the storms to harbor bitterness inching them bit by bit further away from His shelter, and even further away from His peace and understanding.
On January 7, 2003, my world shattered when I lost my mother to a long battle with ALS. It was her death in which I recalled and pondered those things I had been taught in my childhood about how to be the daughter of Christ I needed to be.
I had 33 years with my mother, and unfortunately, my children only had 4 years and 6 years with her. How I wish she could see them grow up! How I wish they could experience their grandmother for even just a few more years in order to have just a few more memories to take with them throughout their life. However...to look on the bright side of it and to 'be thankful in all things', I am thankful for the 4 & 6 years my boys DID have with her!
Other pictures may be non-existant or just put in storage, but these pictures in particular will be treasured.
It wasn't until after my mother was laid to rest that it really hit me that I could no longer call her up on a whim and ask her important questions about raising a family, keeping my home, how to nurture my relationships .... Or even not-so-important questions such as.....what kind of flowers should I put in my front yard? ....how long do I cook chicken?.... what do I use to get stains out?... etc. I found myself, at times, picking up the phone to call her before I even realized what I was doing. As anyone knows who has lost a loved one, it is the memories that flood your mind throughout the year, after your loved one has been laid to rest, that can shake one the most.
Todd was wonderful during my time of grief and he helped me tremendously. Todd was extremely attentive and discerning, but true - fulfilling - comfort could only come from my Abba Father, my daddy God. This is not 'slamming' Todd, but because the Word teaches us that God is our Comforter and Counselor....He is always there - 24/7 - with no 'life has to go on' disruptions to interfere. Life DOES have to go on, but grief is a process. And sometimes a long one.
For me, it was the realization of my mother leading such a wonderful, Godly, sharing & giving life that led me to wonder what kind of legacy I would leave my family if I died this very day. Yes, I went to church. I prayed for my husband and my children. I prayed for my extended families. I tried to be a giving and sharing person. I read my Bible, However, I didn't STUDY the Bible, nor was I in true pursuit of "I AM" who is ALL I need, nor did I really try to get to know every 'thing' God wants to be to me: My Comfortor, My Healer, My Hiding Place, My Rock, My Shelter, My Provider, ....and so, so many more.
I asked myself: Would my kids have the same legacy that my mom left for me if I died right now? Would my children look to me as the proverbial woman and be as proud of me as I am of my mother?
I looked back throughout my life and really didn't find anything of eternal value worth leaving. This is when it hit me. "Wow, Dana. What have you done here on earth that would make your heavenly Father smile? What have you done of eternal value? If you died tonight, would your life represent one that your children would want to emmulate? Would your life represent one that you would want your children to emmulate?" This is when my life took a major turn and I decided to dig down even deeper and seek the face of God even moreso than I had in the past. This is when I was determined to make God my first priority in my life so that nothing would be able to move me...nothing would be able to shake me.....other than the awesome power and love of God. This is when I determined in my heart to KNOW God.
On September 1, 2010, my family's life was shattered once again with the passing of my father-in-law, Jimmy, also known as Pop.
He fought a 9-month battle with cancer, and he fought hard. The way he fought his cancer was a replica of how hard he worked all through life. As Todd, my husband, stated in Pop's memorial service, he was one of the hardest working men we knew. And when he did something, he didn't just do it good enough to get by; he did it well. As my parents used to tell me, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well." This was Jimmy's, or Pop's, way of thinking. He was not above doing what some would deem the lowliest of jobs in order to get done what needed to get done. He saw what was needed, and he did it. Period. He had high expectations, not only for himself, but of others as well because he was a man of high standards.
Pop was a hard man. His personality was hard. His work ethic was hard. He "went hard or went home" in everything he did. He even loved hard, if that makes sense. To meet him for the first time was to be a bit intimidated by him. His whole demeaner was one that said he meant business! And he had no time for nonsense, and by that I mean, he expected one to 'say what you mean, and mean what you say.' Put your money where your mouth is.
But under that tough exterior was a tender heart. He would help any way he could if he knew there was a need. If one was down and out, he encouraged. He gave advice, but only when asked. If he knew of a monetary need of those around him, he provided. And his family.....boy!... how he loved them!
One of the biggest desires of his heart was that every member of his family would know Christ as their Savior, and for them to live in a manner pleasing to God. He wanted to know that his family would be taken care of, and if he couldn't be here on earth to see them live their life, he wanted the assurance that they were safe under the shelter of the wings of the Almighty.
My mother shared that same love for her family, and she longed for all of her children and grandchildren to have an intimate relationship with God. I am convinced that I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the prayers of my parents.
Making our life what it needs to be by serving our heavenly Father, living a life pleasing to Him, and nurturing our relationships with Him.....that was Mom's, and Pop's, desire.
May I continue in my determination of my pursuit of "Seeking first the Kingdom of God and His rightouesness...." May I continue to determine in my heart to really KNOW God. May you do the same.
-To determine in your heart to KNOW God.
-Remembering that your accomplishments throughout life are not for your glory, but for His.
-Living your life in order to show how good God is (showing HIS glory) rather than trying to show how good you think you are.
-To live in a constant state of awareness of Christ and who you are in Him....not just going through the motions or thinking you've done your part by going to church once or twice a week.
-Living your life in worship of Him in every little aspect of your life.
-Not inviting God to be a part of your life, but inviting Him to BE your life.
-To live your life in such a way that people know you live for Jesus without your having to say a word.
-To have your chains in Christ rather than to be bound by the things of this world.
I cannot think of a better way to keep the memories of Mom and Pop alive. Can you?
". . . that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." ~Philippians 1:20b-21