Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My "Jenny Song"

Let me clear something up here. I was not arrested for possession yesterday. That is another Rick Ross. People often get us mixed up (even more so since I have grown a beard).

Yesterday afternoon I went to play golf in Muenster -- nearly an hour away. As I drove, I decided to listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman. I haven't listened to him in a long time, although he is my favorite Contemporary Christian artist. I put his "Speechless" CD in (which in my own limited and humble opinion is the best CD ever). I thoroughly enjoyed hearing "Dive" and "Speechless" again. But as the CD got toward the end, a song came on that I had forgotten about. It overwhelmed me! The words are PERFECT in describing Jenny and our grief journey. So I have now adopted it as my "Jenny song."

Here are the words to "With Hope" -- but you might want to google it and actually listen to it:

This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...

So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hang in There with Me

I want you to know that I have not quit blogging. I am just going through a season in which the idea well is kind of dry. I feel like constantly talking about my grief journey probably gets old to many readers -- but that IS where I am. Sports (other than golf) bore me right now. And I know that I am pretty much alone on the golf thing.

Speaking of golf, the Masters is right around the corner. Week after next. I think at the top of my bucket list would probably be to make a trip to the Masters some day. Hotter ticket than the Super Bowl or the Final 4, though.

And as much as public sentiment has turned against Tiger Woods, I would like to see him recover and regain his form again. Tournaments are just more exciting when he is in the thick of things.

Hmmm. I think I am feeling a 4-day virus coming on around April 7th.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Home from Memphis

Beverly, Malaya and I spent most of last week in Memphis with my son and his family. It was great to have that much time together. I haven't laughed that much in a long time. We also enjoyed great food together (some fixed by my daughter-in-law and some eaten out).

Last Monday, Malaya, Josh and I went to the National Civil Rights Museum. It is within the motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I have been there once before, and it is a convicting experience. I lived through much of the civil rights movement, and can vividly remember much of what was on display. I am struck by how easily we humans can fall into behaviors that are so ungodly -- and convince ourselves that they ARE godly. How the "Bible belt" South could have ever been so supportive of segregation still boggles me. But I can remember as a child not really thinking twice about it because it WAS the culture. I have come to see how Nazi Germany could have been so brainwashed by Hitler, because I have seen something nearly as inhuman and evil played out in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, as well as throughout our country.

On Wednesday, I was invited to speak to a class at my son's church. They offer a class at 1 PM on Wednesday for those who don't want to be driving after dark in the evening. I enjoyed my time with those folks.

While we were doing that, Beverly and the rest of the crew went to the Memphis zoo. I wish I had been able to go with them, because this is a GREAT zoo! I have been to some of the best (including the San Diego and Fort Worth zoos, which are very nice), but this one holds its own.

Josh and I played golf on Thursday at Mirimichi, a golf course owned by Justin Timberlake. It is the 1st eco-friendly golf course in the US. I had played there once before, and really both of my visits there.

As always, though, it is good to be back home. Being a routine-type person, I always enjoy getting back into my "rhythm."

Friday, March 11, 2011

More Tragedy of the Fall

For the first time in a couple of weeks, I turned on the news this morning and didn't see or hear Charlie Sheen. It took an 8.9 earthquake, the 5th largest ever recorded, to shake him from the media's infatuation.

What a tragedy! And it continues to play out before our eyes. The resulting tsunami is expected to sweep across the Pacific in the next few hours -- striking our own U.S. west coast and Hawaii. I pray that God will protect those in its path.

This is yet another reminder of the consequences of living in a fallen world. And yet another reminder of how I long for the coming day when all is made right again. Come, Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sickness in Two Kingdoms

What's up with the Charlie Sheen obsession? This guy has obvious mental issues and is in desperate need of help, and the media have made him like an animal in the zoo that we gawk at and listen to every noise he makes -- laughing and being amused. Something is wrong with this. It speaks to the depravity of humanity.

I wish I could say that the Christian community is above such behavior. However, in the last couple of weeks, we have seen ugliness there as well. Rob Bell has written a book that has yet to be released. A couple of promotional blurbs is all that has been made available to the public. Yet, there are prominent Christian leaders who have already labeled Bell a "universalist."

The few people who have received advanced copies of the book, including someone from Christianity Today magazine, have said that they do not see how the accusation that Bell is a universalist can be reached from what he has written. How can you go public with an accusation of a fellow believer when you haven't even yet read what he said?

It appears to me that the accusers tend to be strong Calvinists. Perhaps they are attacking Bell because he doesn't fit their mold. I don't know for sure if that is the reason why, but it is ugly. It surely doesn't seem to be Christlike. But I have seen a lot of ugliness through the years that is masqueraded as "defending the faith."

All of this makes my heart ache for the day when God again makes everything right.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Fellowship of Suffering

Today is Beverly's birthday. I love her birthday, because from now until October she can't say that I am older than she is. On this day a few years ago (I can't say her age, because I didn't ask for permission), God blessed the world with the birth of this little girl who has become a giant of the faith. What an honor that God allows me to journey beside her through life. What a blessing!

So happy birthday, my love!

Saturday morning, Wise County Christian Counseling (Beverly's agency) hosted a Grief Seminar in the family room at the Decatur Church of Christ. Danny Mack, a friend who specializes in grief counseling, was the speaker. No one knew what to expect. Beverly had done a little advertising. She and Danny figured 20 people would be a good turn-out. Around 54 had rsvp'd by Friday.

On Saturday, over 70 people filled the room! We had people from Oklahoma -- and as far away as Tyler come.

More than anything, what this showed me is that there is a tremendous need to reach people who are grieving. Our culture does not do grieving well -- in large part because people don't allow others to grieve. As Danny pointed out, someone loses a spouse, child, etc. -- and they are given 3 days off to mourn. Three days?

Now, I understand the economics of this, and don't have any real answers for employers. But what do you think the productivity level of that grieving employee is? And according to statistics, such a person will miss 50 days of work over the next year (if I remember Danny's info right).

My point is that in our fast-paced culture, there is no time for grief. And so, rather than healthily dealing with it, we stuff it, mask it, put ourselves together with tape and glue -- and try to function. For the most part, we simply go through the motions. This cannot possibly be healthy.

I think that God is leading Beverly and me to a ministry that we never would have chosen. I have no doubt that for the rest of our lives, we will be reaching out to grieving people and journeying with them. We are still in the midst of our own journey. So this is where children of God link arms and travel together -- holding each other up. "The fellowship of suffering."

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Go, Malaya!

Last night was Malaya's last basketball game for a while. They were playing the best team in the league. It was a close game, and our team was showing more grit than I had seen in previous games. Malaya got the ball down low and had a girl towering over her between her and the basket. She started a move up as if she was going to shoot, and came back down. She has not normally been very aggressive in her play. Then suddenly, she just took it up and over the girl guarding her -- and made it!

Tears came to my eyes as I watched her run down the court, with people in the stands cheering her name. She had the biggest "I want to smile, but don't want to act like it was a big deal" look on her face. I wish I had a picture of her pure joy.

By the way, we won!

I wish I knew what things are like on the other side of the thin veil. I would love to think that Jenny was watching. I can just see her cheering this daughter she loved so incredibly. And I can still hear her voice.

Now to what is really important. Crisis in the Middle East. Economy still struggling. Budget deficits. And all the news wants to cover, it seems, is Charlie Sheen. Why, please tell me, is this so newsworthy? Why not cover the stories of people whose lives were messed up, but who have found redemption and hope and turned them around?

I'll never get it.