Christian

The first Thanksgiving in the fall of 1621 and was shared between the Pilgrims and Indians, was a day complete with new foods to try. The purpose was to spend time together, getting to know each other. I have often wondered if some of those present were ancestors of mine. I have not come across anything in my family’s past that could prove the presence of my family at that first Thanksgiving, but I would not be surprised.

Many of those early traditions are still being carried on today. The big meal, with foods we don’t eat every day. The gathering of friends and family and the celebration of those relationships. We find ourselves reminiscing about the past, and missing the loved ones who are no longer with us, but we also find reasons to be thankful for the things we have and the people who are still in our lives. So often during our day to day lives, we can find ourselves dragged down by the mundane details of daily living, and the stresses of deadlines and daily obligations. We forget the blessings we have.

For that reason, it is important to take the time once in a while to look back on the year and really see all the good things we have. The difference between those mundane details and stresses in life, and blessings is just a matter of perspective. When we look at the memories and abilities that an aging parent has lost, we feel sad, but if we look at what they have left instead, we can see that it is a blessing to still have them in our lives, and that what they have left is a blessing too.

Today, I am thankful for the people in my life. I am thankful for the time I had with those loved ones who are in my past, and soon in my future, like my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and nieces who have gone home to Heaven. Your lives were a blessing to me and while I miss you right now, I look forward to the time when I will see you again. I am thankful for those loved ones in my present. The people who support me when I am feeling down, and help me in the obligations I have in my life. I am thankful for the loved ones who will come into my life in the future. Your lives will bring me new joy and blessing. I am thankful for friends, past, present, and future who have and will bring kindness and friendship into my life. I am thankful for my job and a boss who goes above and beyond the expected every day to allow me to do the things I need to do. And most of all, I am thankful for my God, who saw that I was lost, and even though I didn’t earn or deserve any kindness, He sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to die for me, to pay for my sins, and through the grace and mercy of my Father, He redeemed my life. He brought me back from the brink of Hell, and gave me the best He has to give…eternity in Heaven with Him.

Our family is no stranger to miracles. Sometimes things happen that change lives in an instant. In the blink of an eye you are faced with a situation that is so serious that you have no time to think, and it is just as well, because you can’t wrap your mind around what you are seeing anyway. You find yourself running on autopilot, because it is the only thing that keeps you going. It is at that moment that your faith in God to take care of your child is the most important thing in your life…and theirs.

When my grand nephew, James was six, his dad brought him home after a visitation, and he and my niece, Toni were talking in her back yard while James played. Boys being who boys are, James decided to jump off the deck and swing on the clothes line wire. Unfortunately, the clothes line pole was not very solidly in the ground. When James hit that wire, the pole came down and hit him squarely across the back of the head, cracking his skull. Blood went everywhere, and Toni and Jim couldn’t believe their eyes. Here was their precious little boy injured and bleeding in front of them, and their minds were struggling to come to grips with what they were seeing. They sprang into action, grabbing a towel for his head and rushed him to the hospital.

James began to ask for his grandma, my sister Cheryl, because he wanted her to reassure him that he was going to be ok. Cheryl was called to the hospital, and when she arrived they all prayed over James, and the doctors took him into surgery. James was in surgery for 4 hours, during which time a Titanium plate was placed inside his skull. That plate will be there for the rest of his life.

So many things could have happened that would have brought this situation to a very different ending…but they didn’t. James came through the surgery with flying colors, and the doctors were amazed. He couldn’t have visitors, for a time, because too much movement and stimulation makes it hard for the brain to heal, and there was much healing that needed to happen.

James did remarkably well in the healing process…miraculously so. No other explanation works. He was back to himself very fast for having had a serious head and brain injury, and there were no ill effects from it. It was a miracle. Today that walking miracle is turning 15. James is a sweet, loving young man who is a joy to his parents. His has grown tall, strong and handsome. I don’t know if he knows what a miracle his life is, but we, his family know. We can never forget what God has done for James. His life was repaired and given back to him by a loving and miraculous God. Happy birthday James!! We love you!!

It was one year ago today that Princess Laila entered our lives, but her time with us was not to be very long. She would leave us to live with Jesus 18 days later. With her passing, would begin a sad journey toward the healing of our broken hearts. Laila was the answer to her parents’ prayers. Jenny and Steve have three wonderful and healthy boys, and they wanted a girl to complete their family. Laila was to be that little princess…and a princess she was, beautiful in every way. She was and is loved by all who knew her, or awaited her arrival.

Laila’s time with us would be cut short due to Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which means that the left ventrical of the heart is too small or is non-existent. The heart should have 4 chambers, and Laila’s 4th chamber was too small, and could not effectively pump blood to her body. The doctors tried surgery to repair Laila’s heart, but her little body was just not strong enough, and she went home to be with Jesus on November 22, 2010…and very sad day for all of her family.

It is so hard to believe that a year has come and gone since Princess Laila would change our lives forever with her sweet spirit. Today was to have been a day of celebration…her first birthday…a day to celebrate all those little firsts…first tooth, first word, first steps…but it was not to be. Instead, Princess Laila, we wish you Happy First Birthday in Heaven, where you are being held in the loving arms of Jesus, and where your heart is perfect and whole. I know that you, Grandpa, and Alyssa, along with all your other Heavenly family members are having the greatest first birthday celebration ever. We only wish we could all be there with you today as our baby girl turns one year old…but know that we are with you in spirit, as we know you are with us.

Jenny, Steve, Xander, Zachary, and Issac, I know that your hearts are very sad and lonely today. I know that as God’s Word says, He has sent you the Comforter to hold you is His arms, just as Sweet Princess Laila is being held in Jesus arms today. I know today will be very hard, and I am keeping you in prayer. The day is coming when we will all be together again, and I can’t wait to meet your precious Princess Laila. I love you all very much.

When my oldest daughter was pregnant with her younger son, Joshua David, she had been given a due date of October 15th. That September, Bob and I were going to Denver for a Rockies Baseball game. I told Corrie that she was not to have this baby while I was gone, as I had been at the births of my other three grandchildren, and didn’t want to miss this one. I didn’t exactly expect Josh to come while we were gone, but I did have a sense of unease. Our trip to Denver was going along just fine, when Corrie called to tell us that she was in labor, and that they were trying to stop the labor. If Josh came at that time, he would be 5 weeks early. Some babies do ok that early, while others have problems.

Of course, my first thought was that she was kidding me, since I had told her that she was not to do this, but it quickly became evident that she was serious. I asked how much time we had, since it is a 5 hour drive home from Denver. She said that they were trying to stop the labor, and to wait just a little bit. We waited anxiously for the call to come that would tell us whether or not to race home. The decision was finally made to go home, as the labor would not stop. We headed out about 4:oo am and I was on pins and needles all the way, not to mention praying constantly.

I could not be on the phone with her constantly and that tore me up. It is hard to watch your daughter go through labor and birth, but far worse to have such a premature labor and you are 5 hours away. Every mile was excruciating. We did make it before Josh’s arrival, but not by much. I was so thankful. God saw to it that we got home safe and in time.

Joshua David arrived at 11:57 am on September 9, 1998, he weighed a pretty good 5 pounds 6.5 ounces, but plans were quickly made for him to be flown to Denver. His lungs were immature and he needed help with his breathing. It was decided that Kevin should accompany him on the flight. It was one of the hardest things the kids have ever done. Corrie was a wreck because she wanted to go, and Kevin was a wreck because she couldn’t. We assured them both we would bring her to Denver as soon as she was released.

Josh was placed in the Neo-Natal ICU at Presbyterian St Luke’s Hospital. His weight dropped to 4 pounds 3 ounces. Sometimes, as was the case for the kids, they had an available room on the nursing home side of the hospital where Corrie and Kevin could stay. The nice thing about that was that the kids could go over and see Josh, 24/7, and that is comforting to a parent. Josh was monitored constantly, and given superior care, for which we are eternally grateful to the staff. His weight began coming back up, but as they got close to coming home, he had a couple of Brady’s, which is when the heart skips a beat. It is normal for that to happen, even in healthy adults, but they won’t let the baby go home until it has been more that 24 hours, so they had to stay longer.

Finally the day came when Joshua David got to come home. We were so excited. His lungs had taken 2 weeks to mature, and he was healthy enough to come home. It didn’t take him long to make up for lost time once he got home. He quickly gained weight and grew into a wonderful little boy. We are so very blessed. God had provided a miracle for Joshua!! We love you Josh!! Happy birthday!!

When I first met the man who would become my niece, Jenny’s husband, he was 12 years old, and like most 12 year old boys…at that awkward place between a pesty kid and an obnoxious teenager, and through the years I hadn’t heard that he had changed much. Over the years that I had been around him, he was a mouthy teenager, and very much the smart aleck…but then what teenager isn’t…right.  So, when Jenny brought him to church the first time and I found out who she was dating, my first thought was, “Oh Jenny, not Steve!!” All I could think of is that my niece had no idea what he was really like.

What I found out was that Steve was different now. Jenny did marry Steve, and they have been married for almost 9 years, but a successful marriage is not dependent on one or both of its members being nice people. This marriage, however, is not one of those marriages that has lasted in spite of its members, because my sweet niece, Jenny, found herself a gem in Steve. As Steve grew into adulthood, something grew inside him…the capacity to love.

Steve is a giant of a man who could easily hurt anyone he chose to, but Steve is a big teddy bear. I know of very few men with the kind of heart Steve has. He does have such a great capacity to love, and anyone he loves is very blessed. Our family gained a wonderful member when Steve joined it. Rarely do you meet a man who is so able to express how he feels and who is so loving.

Steve and Jenny have been through some things in their marriage. Things no one should have to go through…the loss of a child, followed by the loss of a beloved pet. Yet, with broken hearts, they have held each other close, and loved each other…and survived. They will be ok, because they both have the capacity to love.

Today is Steve’s birthday, and I want to let him know what a blessing he has been to our family. He is a wonderful husband to Jenny, and father to his children, and all the other titles he holds in this family. He has touched all our lives, and we are blessed, because he grew into a different man. Happy birthday Steve!! It’s going to be a great year for you.

I was thinking about something my Aunt Sandy said to me a while back about talking to my mom about the old stories before it is too late…before she forgets them, or before she were to go home to be with the Lord. Then I was listening to some tapes by Jesse Duplantis, while on a long drive to and from Denver for a class these past couple of days. Jesse Duplantis talks about a minister, or evangelist being a gift from God placed in your life to be a blessing…to get God’s word out to you. That got me thinking abut the other gifts in our lives…our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Early in our lives these people nurture us, teach us how to grow up, take care of our physical needs, and our emotional needs. They might babysit us, or later, let us spend the night. They are role models for us, to teach us right from wrong, and social etiquette. We learn our early sense of style from them…at least until we are old enough to want our own style. We get our early religious training from them, whether it is to go to church or not, it usually comes from the adults around us. There are so many characteristics, that can be traced back for our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

They do all these things for us and yet all too often we think of them as outdated, behind the times…especially in technological matters, annoying, interfering, and…well, anything but a gift. And yet, that is exactly what they are, and we get to have them for a very short time…too short. Just ask anyone who has lost their parent or parents, and see how they feel about them now. Do they regret that they didn’t spend enough time with them? Yes, because no matter how much time you spent, it wasn’t enough. If I could spend one more day with my Dad, would I do it? Absolutely, and I would treasure it…you have no idea how much I would treasure it, but I can’t. That gift is no longer here, but sometimes in thinking about the gift I have lost, I forget to see the gifts that are still in front of me. Sometimes, I see them as more of a job than a gift. Most of you know that I am a caregiver for my mom and my mother and father-in-law. Sometimes, I let myself lose site of the purpose of that caregiving…which is to keep the gifts in my life, in my life for a little longer. Do yourself a favor, and see the gifts in your life…cherish them…and as my Aunt Sandy would tell you talk to them about all the stories of their past…your heritage, that only they can tell you, and once they are gone, the stories are gone too. Whatever you do in life…cherish the gifts you have been given.

Today is Father’s Day, and while I wish all the dads a happy Father’s Day, I feel a little bit like an orphan. My dad went to Heaven 3 1/2 years ago, and it is something I will never really get over. I have felt like the impossible has happened. The world has continued to go on and my Dad hasn’t. It is just wrong that the world should go on as if nothing happened when our loved ones have left this world. I have feel like the world should sit up and take notice…why doesn’t it? Why?

I guess it is supposed to get easier…that time will dull the pain…but how long does that take? There are times when it seems like it has gotten worse. My heart doesn’t seem to know that it is supposed to hurt less with time. It just hurts!! I miss my Dad!! That doesn’t change!!

So, that said, my Dad is very much on my mind and heart today, as he is every day. He was such a sweet caring man…so patient with his girls, and I for one was a bit of a challenge. I always liked a…good debate…no I liked to argue, and I was very opinionated. But Dad was patient and put up with it…most of the time. And we had an understanding about it. When he said, “Don’t argue with me!!” I didn’t..anymore…at least for that moment. I knew that was the end of the discussion…he had had enough. Dad rarely lost his temper, even when we argued. He just got done.

Dad was a quiet hero. He fought for his country during World War II, but never spoke of it, unless we pried it out of him. He never thought of himself as a hero. On a rare occasion, when I took him to the airport to see the B-17 bombers, which is what he was on during the war, he told me a few things. He talked about where he stood and how he worked his gun. He talked about the work he did as flight engineer. The flight engineer was the go to man in any emergency. He had to know the systems and be able to do anything the ground crew could. If the plane was in trouble, he was the best chance they had to avoid a crash. That day did come for my dad’s crew when the landing gear wouldn’t come down, and my dad had to hang upside down in the bomb bay area and crank down the landing gear, saving the lives of his crew members.

Dad was all that to our country, and yet such a good dad. He always knew what to do to solve a problem. Maybe that came from his training, but I really think it came from his deep love for his family. He would have done anything to fix things for his family. He was an amazing husband and dad. We were so blessed to have him in our lives, and I just wish he was still here. Happy Father’s Day Daddy!! I love you and I can’t wait to see you again!!

I see so many people who don’t get along with their parents, and while I do know that sometimes that is inevitable, I believe most times it is simply a bad decision. Parents aren’t perfect, but if we will admit it, neither are we, their children. If children came with an instruction book, maybe things would be better, but it just doesn’t work that way. If kids would just try to listen to their parents and understand that while they might make mistakes in raising their children, they have your best interest at heart.

I am reminded of my own parents. While there were times that we fought, their lessons were invaluable. Of course, even when I thought I knew it all, they were patient with me…when, as my sisters have said, they probably felt much like choking me. I was probably on the list of difficult children, though I was never is any serious trouble. I just went against the grain sometimes. But had I taken a minute to see what was before me, I might not have fought so hard…no, we both know that isn’t so.

Whatever they weren’t, my parents were very moral people. Dad has gone home to be with the Lord now, but my mom is still here, and still training her children to do what is right, even though we are all grown and parents, and some of us grandparents. She still does her best to see to it that we live God’s way, and that our children do too. She and Dad cared so deeply about our spiritual life, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Children may not always agree with their parents, and most would say that they don’t want to be anything like their parents, but in the end, when you have great parents, why wouldn’t you want to be just like them…I know I do.

My niece, Kellie is going to be singing at our church on Easter Sunday, and as a special treat, we got to hear her song this morning. Our church has a program on Sunday mornings at 9:30 on KTWO television in Casper, Wyoming, and Kellie’s performance will be aired there on Easter morning. I hope no one minds if I plug that just a little, as I am very proud of Kellie. Her song was beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes.

But, more than the beauty of the song, is the miracle that Kellie’s life is. Kellie had a rough beginning. She was born late and so was not underweight, but as happens sometimes in late births, she had some breathing problems that caused her to have to be flown to Denver. I don’t know all the details of her condition, and that is not important anyway. Kellie spent the weekend in Denver and then came home, where she grew into a happy and very, very giggly girl, as anyone who knows her can attest.

Her story doesn’t really end there, however. Kellie was born on Thursday, March 15,1990, and came home from Denver that following Sunday. I bowled with some of the nurses here that cared for her before she was transferred to Denver. That Tuesday morning when I went into bowling, they asked me how the baby was doing. I told the Kellie was doing great and was at home. They said, “Home, home!! Not in the hospital here??” I told them yes, to which they replied, “That is amazing!!! We didn’t expect her to live, much less be home in just 2 days!!” They were so stunned and so pleased that they had tears in their eyes.

God had done, and continues to do great things in Kellie’s life. As I said, she grew into a giggly girl whose laugh has the ability to make everyone around her laugh, even if they have no idea what is so funny, and with Kellie, it may be nothing at all, because she just finds life to be a reason to celebrate, and she finds joy and happiness in every moment. I know that giggly girl will always live inside her, and that she will always be a blessing in that way, but beyond that, she is an amazing and accomplished singer. But for me watching her today, and looking back on her beginning…well, I found myself filled with a sense of wonder and pride at the woman she has become.

I have been thinking about a situation that happened to me a few years ago, and while I have moved on, the shock of what happened still comes to mind sometimes. A good friend of mine passed away, and left some things to me and several other people in her will. Now, I know that many people would think that the only thing I care about is the things, but that is the least of it. In fact the things mean very little in the scheme of things. What brought this to mind again is the trip we made to visit her grave, which we do as often as we go to Reno.

What has bothered me over the years is that her children, chose to keep everything, and not honor her will at all. It was such a selfish act, and not because of the things, but because her final wishes were not honored. Oh, I’m sure they thought that they just couldn’t part with their mother’s things, but they didn’t belong to them. They stole from their mother!! Stole her right to have one final say in her own life. Stole her right to leave a bit of herself to her special, beloved friends. And, they stole their own peace of mind, because I know that every time I see one of them, she quickly looks away, because she feels guilt.

My friend had given me other things through the years, you see, she was an artist, but she told me that I was to have my choice of her paintings when she passed away. I knew it was in the will several years before she died. And it was brought up by her daughter right after she passed, but then it was dropped. There were some paintings that so reminded me of her sweet spirit, but I would never have deprived her daughters of all the paintings. We could have easily come to a workable agreement, but I was never given the chance to be generous toward her children. I received occasional correspondence from the attorney, who told me that there was nothing he could do about their refusal to honor the will, but nothing more. I don’t think of myself as a greedy person, but I do feel awful because my friend was robbed of her final say. She had been so happy when she told me she had put in her will to give me the paintings.

I just can’t believe people could be so cold, as to steal from the dead! It doesn’t matter, I suppose. At least not to them. But think of how they would feel if their children did that to them. It puts it in a very different light, doesn’t it. Please, when your loved one makes a will, do the honorable thing…honor their wishes.