iBelieve

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Archive for the tag “Family”

Like Peeling an Onion


Today is Father’s Day. I can say the simple phrase that many people can voice with me, “I miss my dad.” But this phrase packs a lot within and it really is not a simple phrase. Sort of like peeling an onion, there is so much more to the phrase.

Let me peel about my dad.

Outer layer, I miss my dad; he’s been in heaven since 2009. He worked hard at his job and he worked hard caring for his wife and kids. He loved my mom and that is the most important example he could share with all five of his children. Mom and dad bickered a lot but they were both perfectionists who would approach a process differently but always end up with the same outcome. I don’t think they ever went to bed angry at each other. Another valuable life lesson from both of them. Sadly, my first marriage was nothing like theirs and it fell apart quickly. Dad stood by me through that difficult time; never judging, but always supporting me.

The second layer, he loved his kids. He never belittled us. His conversations with us were always positive words and he was lovingly stern so we would turn out to be respectful adults. My siblings and I are high-functioning people. He was always goofing around with us too. He’d be in the back yard with my brothers and me as we played basketball. He had a famous “hook shot” which I picked up and made as my famous shot when I play basketball with my nephews. The hook shot is a lifesaver when we play a game of Horse.

The next layer includes the grandkids of which he was blessed with many thanks to one sister and one brother. He went by the name “Gramps” and it still sticks when we talk about him. He loved each grandchild and treated them so kindly. He used to slip bingo winnings into the hands of my niece and nephew when they lived with my parents for a short time. He put up a small basketball hoop on the side of the garage much lower than normal because my nephew used to play basketball like the big kids. And, he was really good for such a little guy. Of the great-grandkids he got to meet, he showered the exact same love, but his health was failing and he could not do as much with them. However, his love was evident. Always giving of himself.

In the next layer I remember a back-and-forth conversation with the neighbor kid, you know, the one where you say, “My dad could beat up your dad”. Thinking back to the other dad, yes, I bet my dad could have whooped him, but in truth, my dad was friends with everyone. I never saw him fight, nor did I hear him bad-mouth anyone. In fact, I was invited many times to run errands with him and in the course of each trip, he would talk with everyone he met as he seemed to know at least one person at each errand. I commented to him that everyone likes him. He assured me that was not true, and in my youth I did not comprehend that we cannot be liked by everyone, but he didn’t explain it. I had to learn that lesson on my own. Not everyone was his friend, but he treated everyone equally with kindness. What a beautiful life-lesson and I am thankful for the invite to go on errands.

The next layer, he was a devoted son. His dad was a watchmaker and when he needed parts, my dad would have to walk, after school, to get what he needed, bring it back home and head out to baseball practice or a game. My grandma would make dinner and leave him a plate and even though it was late he always cleaned up after himself. I clearly remember him jumping up from our dinner table to begin doing the dishes after a meal my mom cooked for the family. Dad was aware of what was important to others and a clean kitchen was important to my mom.

Getting deeper into the onion, my dad thought he felt called to be a Priest. Obviously that did not pan out as I am here today blogging about him. But his Catholic faith was important to him; my parents saw to it that we all attended Catholic school. Those years have planted Holy Spirit seeds in my heart and the love for the Trinity has sprouted within me.

He also was a very good baseball player; a pitcher actually. He tried out for the Detroit Tigers one time, but realized that his shoulder was not built for the majors. Instead he coached my brothers’ little league teams.

Can we talk aim for a second? That man had an eye for a straight line whether it was baseball, horseshoes, basketball, or those, heaven-forbid, pointy lawn jarts. He had an aim that kept him a winner much of the time.

At the core of my dad, he loved. He loved his country and it was evident when he quit school at the age of 17 to join the Navy during WWII. I regret not remembering much about his stories of his Navy days but I am fortunate to be the holder of his photo album from that period in his life. He was a handsome Sailor. At the conclusion of his church funeral, the Honor Guard performed a service of their own for their fallen comrade. They removed the flag that covered his casket, folded it and presented it to my mom. Someone snapped the most precious photo of that flag transfer and the look on my mom’s face was priceless. She was proud of my dad and was honored to hold his flag. The bugler began playing taps and that is where we all shed some heavy tears.

Truly cutting into an onion gets the eyes to water; thinking about my dad has the same effect. I miss my dad.

Late Night Visitor – Grief Meter


When you enter the hospital under an emergency situation, Read more…

Motherhood


I could only imagine what motherhood was like so I planted a garden.

I dug into the earth with my shovel and pushed it as deep as I could with the help of my foot buried inside a steel-toed shoe. Mindfully in the moment, I heard the melodious crunching sound the shovel made as it sliced into the dirt hitting buried rocks and matured roots from past plantings. The sound exhumed memories of watching my dad dig up space for a garden in the backyard when I was a kid. I dug shovelful after shovelful of earth and flipped it upon itself and worked the soil into a place of new beginnings.

Backyard nesting and oh, that fresh dirt smell.

As I made my way down the aisles at the garden store, I found a large selection of Knockout Roses. I felt like I was peering into the hospital newborn nursery window as I looked at rows and rows of rose bushes. Each rose similar in species had a unique look. I reached down and gently pulled out the one from the group that resembled me and put it on my cart. As a new mom, I was sure to gather together the potting soil and nutrients my budding plant would need to flourish in the space I had prepared.

I dug out a space to fit the rootball and added weed-killing plant food to the hole. I talked to the new rose bush, attempting to ease its fear of change leaving the pot it was grown in and introduced it to my yard. I loosened its roots so it could feel its way into the new space and feel at home too. I filled new soil around the root and pressed it into the earth. Wearing a new mother’s glow, I knelt down next to the rose and said, “Welcome to my yard; welcome to my life! Enjoy your first refreshing drink of water from the garden hose.”

This was a process repeated five more times.

I observed mothers who put their all into raising their offspring. That selfless act was revealed in the maturity of their children at an early age. In a similar fashion, I put in a lot of time and energy into warding off weeds so they would not interfere with the growth of my roses.

My garden was spoiled.

I fertilized and watered and the sun was my daycare provider. Here they are a year later! Oh, how my babies have grown!!

1st Birthday

I could only imagine what motherhood was like, so I planted a garden.

Psalm 144:9-14 (NIV)

I will sing a new song to you, my God;
    on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
    who delivers his servant David.

From the deadly sword 11 deliver me;
    rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
    whose right hands are deceitful.

12 Then our sons in their youth
    will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
    carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
    with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
    by tens of thousands in our fields;
14     our oxen will draw heavy loads.[a]
There will be no breaching of walls,
    no going into captivity,
    no cry of distress in our streets.

 


My drive to work is a leisurely 25 mph around 7 a.m. through a residential neighborhood. Some houses along the route illumine against the dark winter morning sky. Families are waking at this hour and because they do not have window coverings, I am allowed a glimpse of their morning routine.

For example, I pass a house with a little child pushed up close to the table in a high chair sitting to the left of an adult at the head of the table. The adult is feeding the child, which to most of you reading this is no big deal. One of those, “been there, done that” moment in life. But to me, who was never blessed with a child, this is a moment I can only imagine taking place in my kitchen.

In the morning before work, I eat breakfast alone.

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Revelation 3:20 NIV

My house illumines the dark winter mornings as I eat breakfast. If there was a knock at my door so early in the day, I would be hesitant to open it.

But from this verse in a literal sense, I would have to open the door in case it was Jesus standing there. I would invite Him in and be awestruct that He was there How would I know it was Jesus, though? this day and age, I think I would be afraid of someone knocking at my door early in the morning. However, the light illumining in the dark winter sky had attracted someone to knock.

I do not have window coverings on the window in front of my sink, but my kitchen is in the back of my house. Let’s assume this is you in the morning going about your routine with your child and suddenly there is a knock at your door.

You are in your pajamas, or robe, and your hair is a mess from sleeping. You breathe in the palm of your hand to check just how bad your morning breath resonates. Are you going to open the door to see who is calling at such an early hour? You really cannot hide from the visitor because you have no window coverings.

What if Jesus was riding through your neighborhood and stopped at your house because He saw you eating breakfast through an undressed window?

Jesus knocks at your door.

Late Night Visitor – Unhappy Anniversary


I love life milestones whether they are mine or for someone else.  I love to celebrate and honor the moment, the achievement, and the occasion.  But this milestone coming up, I cannot decide if I want to celebrate that I made it through or cry because it has come upon me.  The milestone I am talking about is the first anniversary of my mother’s passing.

Grief has hit heavy the last few weeks as I recall just a year ago caring for my mom during the last week of her life. One part of me knew she was too weak to fight the infection, yet another part of me rallied in her corner.  None of us, meaning my siblings and I, really knew what to do, but I am confident our prayers granted us Holy intuition and the strength that only comes from God to get through caring for an elderly loved one.  My mom was stubborn and as independent as she could be at 89-years old.  She was older than what she weighed.  She had all her faculties up until the end, but the infection screwed with her ability to communicate clearly; we did what we thought was best for her without her input.

The image that best describes how I have felt this past year, and still today, is that of my television when the cable is out.  The words NO SIGNAL ricochet off the left side of the screen, bounces off the bottom hitting the right side of the screen, touching then on the top.  The connection point on each of the sides of the screen are different, but it keeps ricocheting.  No place to land.  No connection. NO SIGNAL.

I was named the executor of the living trust my parents set up before my dad passed away.  An honorable, yet difficult, appointing.  I contacted the lawyer, bankers, and an accountant.  I sent forms to the government, paid bills, and tallied up credits and debits to the account.  Probably the hardest part was selling the family home where I grew up.  Through all of this, I am sad that what once felt like a tight family bond has become a little cracked, but not beyond repair.  We all grieve differently and I am thankful I can cling to some siblings not only for the strength I need, but also for the memories we all cherish.

Grief continues its weight on my heart.  It interfers with my ability to concentrate and feel confident even with the simplest of tasks. It cloisters me and silences my screams for help.  Grief is ugly, grief is inconvenient, and grief is stickier than fresh gum on the bottom of a shoe. I wish I could call 911 to get this intruder out of my life and file a PPO against him.

Oh, but I love milestones whether they are mine or for someone else.  I cannot decide if I want to celebrate that I made it through or cry because the first anniversary of my mother’s death is near.  I love and miss you mom; I will celebrate your life and your influence on mine.

Psalm 120:1

A song of ascents.

I call on the Lord in my distress,
    and he answers me.

Late Night Visitor – Grief Brain


When we are young, we are handed blunt-ended scissors Read more…

It’s Not You, It’s Me


My momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump Read more…

Late Night Visitor – ECHO, Echo, echo


My siblings and I honored our mother’s wishes to not be placed in a nursing home to die; she passed away peacefully in her home.  Read more…

Late Night Visitor – The Phone Call


I heard of others doing this and told myself I would never do it. Read more…

Late Night Visitor – Storm Chaser


Grief has similarities to that of a meteorologist.  Read more…

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