Honor Your Father and Mother
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord [as His representatives], for this is just and right.2 Honor (esteem and value as precious) your father and your mother.
Daddy was not the perfect father. Oh, he loved us and we were his sunshine. He parented in the manner he thought best at the time just as most parents do. His father treated his eleven children harshly and that’s what Daddy knew. We knew when Daddy spoke we obeyed because we feared the consequences. All four of us grew up dealing with emotional struggles. He caused deep wounds by his words, but especially to two of my sisters.
Growing up my sisters and I awoke to Daddy singing the chorus to You Are My Sunshine. That was his song to his babies. Singing us awake, singing us to the table, singing us to dress, Daddy had a song for just about anything. He grew up being sung to by his mom who also taught him to play the piano, to dance and to sing.
His mom wrote music, choreographed it and traveled the Vaudeville circuit with Daddy and his sister Florence performing. Later he sang in churches and at revivals. After returning from World War II RCA offered him a recording contract. He turned it down. He told the record company that God called him to preach and pastor. Daddy walked away from the glitz and glamour of musical fame to the grit and grind of ministering from the pulpit and homes. He wanted to honor his Heavenly Father with the gifts he felt God entrusted to him. He wanted to preach and not perform.
Daddy continued teaching us to sing four-part harmony and arranged for us to perform. We sang in churches, fairs, fundraisers, competitions and around the piano just for fun. We sang hymns. We sang jingles. We sang country ballads. We sang Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Doris Day and the Lennon Sisters. No matter the venue we included in our repertoire the chorus to You Are My Sunshine.
He spent the last few years of his life in a nursing facility. While there he desired to live his life continuing to honoring God. The first few years there he sat in his doorway greeting each person entering or leaving. Some chatted with him, some asked him to pray with them or some to sing with them. He took each hand in his and affirmed each one. Bedridden his last two years he would sing You Are My Sunshine with different staff members, harmonizing with his beautiful tenor and slowing the last note, holding it and fading the “away.”
My sisters and I spent those last two years, a week or two at time staying in town so he would see one of us each day. We desired to honor our father and pour out the love of God on him. We watched baseball or football with him, read to him, or sat with him while he napped. But before leaving him we sang hymns or old ballads harmonizing and concluding with You Are My Sunshine. As he grew weaker he reached to hug each of us often and repeated, “Sorry.”
Daddy died October 19, 2014. Prior to him leaving us my sisters and I stood around his bed holding hands and singing in four-part harmony Amazing Grace and the Doxology. We each went to him, again told him we forgave him and we loved him. Soon after we crooned You Are My Sunshine he went “away” gazing into the shining face of the Son standing at the right hand of God. I imagine him singing hallelujah’s with the angels.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)
a work of art that mixes styles, materials;
a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources
The driver behind me must think a bobble-head is driving this truck. Each drop of a wheel into a pothole bounces me up and down, jarring me left and right. I grip the steering wheel and pray I remain on my side of the road. Jostling along I ponder potholes. Do paved roadways and life’s pathways mirror one another?
I slammed into a few devastating, deep potholes along my journey of life. Some were apparent to all and some were known only to me. My fishbowl life as a preacher’s kid kept me struggling to survive in waters of inadequacy and imperfection. My dad attempted suicide when I was sixteen. Two of my daughters suffered sexual assaults as young adults. My father-in-law ran over my two-year-old daughter. Stresses at work where I was the recipient of workplace abuse reinforced my sense of failure. My mom’s cancer returned and rapidly grew to stage four. My health crashed with anemia, hypothyroidism and exhaustion. Physically, mentally and emotionally I felt like I was drowning. The stresses and pressures became so jarring I eventually careened off my pothole pitted roadway into a murky, dark ravine of depression.
I attempted a Band-Aid-like approach to these difficulties and pain. I avoided discussing them and pretended as though they had not happen. I worked ten to twelve hours daily preventing myself from thinking about my circumstances. I withdrew from interacting with family and friends. I owned the heartache of others who suffered tragedies and wept with and for them. Pain and hopelessness crippled me. I believed the lying voices of darkness. Despair. Discouragement. Defeat. I wanted to die and I made a plan.
God had a different plan. He said in Isaiah 41:9-10 (MSG),
I pulled you in from all over the world,
called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Through the prayers and loving hands of family, friends and my doctor He held me and opened the eyes of my heart to see His light in this dark world. He reminded me this world is temporary and we are engaged in a spiritual battle. In Ephesians 6:10-20 (NASB) He told me,
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. In John 10:10 He stated,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
We all have life-jarring moments that toss us hither and yon like limp rag dolls splayed askew wondering, “What is happening?” Our painful experiences pierce our hearts and minds causing us to crumble. The powers of darkness desire to crush us but we do not have to remain broken. When we give our damaged lives to God and trust our pieces into His care, He comes in and cuts away the wounded, festering areas of our hearts and creates something new. He takes the shattered, splintered parts of our lives and makes something beautiful, better and stronger than the old.
He said it Himself in Isaiah 43:19 (VOICE),
Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak,
and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert;
Waters will flow where there had been none.
In Isaiah 65:17 (VOICE) He promised,
Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.
He called us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) to come to Him.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Winding roads, curves, precarious ledges and potholes of hurts and disappointments dot our lives. God desires to smooth out the rough terrain created by hardship and heartache. God is able. God is willing. He is the seamstress taking sundry scraps of fabric and piecing them together into a patchwork quilt. He is an artisan using colored shards of glass creating a stunning stained-glass window or lampshade. He is the Master Craftsman. He gathers us to Himself, with all our broken parts and splinters and creates a masterpiece. He makes us into something new and never before seen. Will you respond to His loving voice and tender embrace? Will you surrender your broken life into His capable hands and allow Him to mold you into a pastiche? He is waiting.
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand….” Psalm 31:14-15 (NASB)
“The results of your mammogram were inconclusive.” Traci nearly always receives this letter and nothing is found. I returned for another mash and smash session that afternoon. On the black and gray screen, shining bright and white was an M&M sized dot.
A biopsy and three days later my family doctor and friend called to confirm what God had placed on my heart. That bright, white dot was breast cancer. That April, 2010, was the beginning of another, life-long adventure with my Savior.
No matter where this journey carried me or where it ended my Savior promised me that my times are in His hand. I experienced nervousness that I might behave so as not to honor Jesus. I also thrilled that ultimately, at the end of this time I would receive one of God’s greatest blessings!
Held in His hand on this new path through mountain tops and valleys the blessings poured into my life. Newly married Michelle, soon to be in heaven with Jesus, approached this newbie after my signing in at the infusion center on the day of my first chemotherapy treatment. She demonstrated her trust in God joyfully even to the end of her short life. At my second treatment He blessed me when He led me to encourage a frightened Toni receiving her first chemo-cocktail. At my third infusion was Katie, enthusiastically celebrating her final treatment, reminding me to look ahead, to see joy no matter the circumstances. As Becky sat nervously across from me in the waiting area at my fourth infusion I removed my necklace and placed it around her neck. I had worn it reminding me to never give up because of God’s faithfulness.
At each of the eight infusions over sixteen weeks, the seven weeks of radiation and the numerous scans and feed-Dracula lab appointments, Jesus provided an opportunity to be loved and to love and encourage others. Because He kept me in His hand and showered me with blessings I left each time hopeful and full of peace. Bring on the mash and smash! My times in His loving hand are indeed beautiful. Do you trust that your times are in His hand? I pray that your times be beautiful as well.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 (KJV)
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
John 1:1 (Voice)
For years the desire to write words of encouragement and hope for others has been like glowing embers within my heart. This is the beginning of that calling coming to fruition. I am officially a blogger.
I’m no physicist or engineer or historian. I am, however, an expert on learning to live my life to the fullest with Jesus leading and guiding me. A friend said that we hear we all have A STORY to tell, but the reality is we all have STORIES to tell.
So begins my story-telling of some of my life’s lessons. I will share my joys, sorrows, hopes, disappointments and more. This is my responding to the Lord Jesus calling me to come along side others who are experiencing some of the same struggles, successes and seasons of life through which He has carried me and those times yet to come.
Let me list a few of the moments I wish to share with you.
My daughter being run over by a car that her grandfather was driving
One of my daughters being sexually violated
My having breast cancer
The time I believed my marriage wouldn’t last
Winning the war of depression
Join me, please, as I begin this new journey. Let’s travel through the valleys and over the mountains together. Sometimes the road may be rough and full of potholes and other times it may be smooth, gentle and relaxing.
The best part of this trip is Jesus is in the driver’s seat. Buckle up! Crank up the engine and let’s get going! Thanks for riding along with me!