Archive for the 'Dads blog' Category

The mourning need love not logic

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

“The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26

It has been an unusual week. Many people that I know on Facebook have died or had family members die in the last few days. There have been beloved aged grandparents, children who have been fighting cancer for years, even a minister John Paul Jackson whom I respect; they have all died this week. Even as I was writing this blog, I find out that in a town near me a pickup truck ran over a family killing 3 children.

Death was never part of God’s original plan, until man sinned and brought it into the picture. I believe that’s why it feels so obscene and unnatural; we were not created to experience it but we do. It’s easy to understand when someone does something deserving of death but what about these children, what about this minister with so much more to give, what about my daughter who died of cancer while she was giving so much love and life to my family?

It’s easy to see it as obscene, wasteful and senseless. But I have seen another side to bereavement. That puts me in a unique position to understand and speak about this loss.

What would I say to the parents of these children, or the children of these Grandparents?

NOT A DAMN THING.

I know better.

Often, well-meaning people try to make the grieving feel better by using rational means. It is of some, but very little comfort. If it is coming from a place of trying to get the griever to feel better so that the “comforter” can feel better it can be quite unhelpful.

The only thing the griever will feel for a long time is that they hurt. All that they will be able to receive is people that care enough to get in the pain with them. Rational thought has little to do with what they are feeling.

When my precious Boey died I asked WHY a million times. I tried to find answers but none were good enough. It was then that I realized that I didn’t really even want answers: I only wanted my daughter back with me. The only thing that felt real or true was when I would cry with my wife or when friends would cry with me.

When I would pray with someone, if they tried to “fix me” or help me to see it would be the last time I prayed with them. But when someone would honestly say, “I don’t even know how to pray, I have no idea how you feel and they would have tears it was the best prayer of all!” It was validating and I felt loved.

Grieving is very hard business. It changes your heart. I have seen God use it to change mine in big ways. I often said in the beginning months that when I got to Heaven I would have a list of questions I would be asking GOD and I said it with denigration. But as the years have gone by I have begun to understand. Don’t ask me to explain right now, it makes no rational sense. That’s one of the things God has worked on and changed in me; learning to rely and trust my heart rather than only rational thought.

I have seen and I have an intuition about how God has changed many things that I hold dear. As I try to capture rational words they fall short of my goal of explaining. That’s the idea; some things are not in the realm of rational. The best things in life are not found in the realm of rational.

If you try explaining why you love your spouse or why chocolate tastes good, it defies explanation. To convince anyone that GOD can use something even so difficult as death especially in so few words is too tall an order for me. I can only declare what I know to be true in my life: Death, even when it seems to be illogical, senseless, and offensive can be used by God to create something beautiful. I see it and I live in it. I have only touched on the concept but trust me it’s true even if I haven’t expanded upon it.

But if you desire to quote me in any way shape or form to someone who is suffering grief; Bite your tongue because they don’t need any explaining, they really just need your love.

Victim or Warrior…You choose

Monday, February 29th, 2016

What is in a word?

A whole lot.

Stupid, loser, quitter, weak, nothing.

Compentant, winner, fighter, strong, Warrior.

As you read those words can you connect with their meanings? Perhaps even identify with them. Emotions are attached to each of these words as there are emotions attached to how we identify these words with our own selves.

We have all been labeled with many titles by parents, coaches, bullies and even ourselves. How we think about ourselves makes a very big difference in how we approach our life and what we do and how we live. I wholeheartedly believe Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” is not only a truth but a key to living. What you think about yourself can determine your destiny.

I learned this most powerfully seeing how this principle worked with my daughter. When she was 6 years old she was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma; an aggressive malignant cancer. It was crushing, devastating and gut-wrenching. As I saw my beautiful little girl who loved all things girly and pink lose her lovely hair because of the side effects of treatment my heart sunk as I saw her begin to cry. We cried together and I shaved my head to show her support and love which seemed to make her feel better in her weakened state.

But then I saw something marvelous. Once she accepted that her hair was gone her mommy had a talk with her where she shared with her “You know Boey…your new style doesn’t look bad at all, as a matter of fact honey, YOU LOOK LIKE A WARRIOR.”

That was a pivotal time in my little girl’s life. I watched her eyes in that very moment as she considered and then adopted the title of warrior. It was very important because I noticed her transforming from victim to fighter. I observed how her thinking was changed by adopting this word, this title of “WARRIOR” even thought she was a cute little 6 year old girl.

When we were in the hospital and she was puking from the chemo she cried like any kid would but then she would proclaim, “I’m fighting as hard as I can.” Being a warrior gave her an identity of not just a target of cancer but rather someone who was exercising authority over it and not letting it dictate to her how to live. The title of warrior seemed to direct all sorts of thinking in her heart and so therefore, “so became she.”

This was a very unique thing to witness for me. I’m sure her mother and I encouraged her in this but she took it to another level in the most difficult circumstances any person of any age can face. She coined the phrase, “Be strong, Never Give Up, Believe and it can happen” to which she shared with other kids fighting cancer to encourage them. Because of her attitude we were able to face the things that were thrown at us with hope and experience a deep love and relationship that changed my attitude toward life. I saw this adoption of identity made a big difference.

This is why I have named this BLOG NeverGiveUpWarrior. Because of the example my daughter set. I want to live life with that identity, one of a warrior and the attitude of Not Giving Up.

Dictionary.com defines warrior as “a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier.” It defines warfare as, “conflict, especially when vicious and unrelenting”

Sounds like life does it not? Life is full of conflict and it can indeed be vicious and most definitely is unrelenting.

When you approach the conflicts of life with the mindset not as a victim but rather a warrior you are recognizing the truth that life is a struggle and it can be hard but when you think of yourself as a warrior you do something about it. You engage in the struggle. You tell that cancer, “I am fighting and will not lay down.” You tell your debt or your weight or your grief, “I am going to fight you, I am not just going to lay down and allow you or the conflicts of life dictate to me what my life will be. I am going to fight.”

If you are reading these words you too can be a “warrior” Pick up the mantle. Face your conflicts with attitude. I saw my 6 year old little girl do it and it made all the difference in our lives. I am so thankful because it inspired and changed me forever.

I am a warrior and I will Never Give Up.

Want to join me?

My NO REACTION REWARD

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Proverbs 29:22 “An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot–tempered man abounds in transgression.”

I am learning about processing rather than reacting. In my life I have found that I have caused my self, and my relationships trouble by reacting rather than choosing how to act. I am learning that when angry about anything it is best not to talk about it until I am less angry and I don’t need anything from the person I am angry with. This is the best way to process and walk together. I have also found that when I don’t use my anger to do the talking life, God, or the universe works together to help me out.

This concept was confirmed to me the other day when I was driving in to town with my oldest son. Morning traffic was heavy and so I pulled in to the 60 mph traffic quickly like I always do and I notice the guy who was behind me pulled right up on my bumper.

A little irritated I say out loud, “Ok Dude, it’s the only way to get on this road …back off”

This guy then proceeds to Nascar-style slingshot his pickup truck from behind me and then pass me at about 75 mph and cut me off. He is yelling at me the whole time.

This pulled the anger out of my heart and I said a few choice words that I will not type out for you here, but If you use your imagination I am sure you can hear me now.

The funny thing is how unexpected and how quick that rage was accessed in me. Now I could focus on this guy and how much of a Jack-wagon he was but I was fascinated with how quick someone like that could have complete control of my emotions.

I don’t like being out of control. I talked myself down with my son as my confessor next to me. If I was in a state of reaction I know exactly what I would have done. I know because I wanted to do it. I wanted to ride his bumper and honk my horn and yell. This is the kind of emotion that escalates and road rage is born.

Instead I laughed about the whole thing with my son. I made the choice to. I admitted how quickly I could get so angry but then I just let this guy go.

I let him be him, the jack­-wagon that he was.

Then something amazing happened.

Traffic started to bunch up on the highway as we neared downtown. I made a casual turn into the right lane and tried not to smirk as I passed him going about 30mph. I tried not to laugh as a position opened up one car ahead of him.

The big challenge came for me to not smile as I went to the intersection and made it through while he, the man who was in such a big hurry, was detained at the red light!

His face was priceless though.

I was pleased. I refrained from honking, yelling, and tailgating to deal with my emotions in the right way and I was given a gift.

I felt like I won at life.

I passed a test of sorts. I did not give in to my angry emotional reaction and I was rewarded with seeing the humbled face of the dude who did give in to his angry reaction to me.

It was satisfying.

I took it as a validation that I am on the right track. Not reacting but rather choosing my course in emotional situations has its rewards. I had much more fun and didn’t experience the flames of rage for as long which I very well could have carried through my day.

Remember this next time you want to get angry. Anger may be helpful to alert you that there is an issue to attend to but it is not the best representative to fix the situation. Better to choose your course more logically.

Who knows? Maybe the lane will open up next to you and you can watch your opponents face as you drive on with your life, with a smile on yours…

Storming Heaven

Monday, February 29th, 2016

I have many families on my Facebook with children that have cancer. Several times per month there will be a post for prayer. There have been several times the request is to “Storm Heaven” for the needy child.

I know exactly what that means because I have been there. I believe I even used the same term. I would never disparage ANYONE who is asking for prayer; most particularly from a parent who has been informed that cancer has returned. The insanity of that moment is unparalleled. It is an intense place that calls for intense action. Nevertheless I would like to examine exactly what is being said because as I thought about it, I believe it is important to define what is going on.

To storm Heaven sounds to me like waging warfare, Storming the castle, or Storming the beaches of Normandy. This sounds legitimate. I am not an expert at prayer or spiritual warfare but this does have the ring of Luke 11:5-10. In this parable a man goes to his friend’s house in need of food and the friend basically says no but the man persists until he receives. It ends by saying, “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” So in this principle the idea of persisting can be embodied in Storming Heaven.

But the part that made me uneasy was the idea of storming in the first place. Storming the castle or storming Normandy embroils trying to take ground from an enemy who does not desire to give it. Is that the correct picture we should have when praying? I do not believe so.

I am learning that God has always wanted to partner with man on this earth. One example is how he let Adam name all the animals. A more powerful example is how God has shared his ability to create a being that will live for eternity through childbirth. I believe prayer can often be our sharing God and his light with this world and another way we co-create with God.

I do believe Jesus words are true when he said, when you have seen me you have seen the Father. In simple truth: Jesus was a healer and he always healed all who came to him. I believe this reveals that it is within the will of God to heal. Does it always happen. No. Do we always know why? No .

Nevertheless to pray, in line with Gods will is part of cooperating with Gods plans for this world. “God let Your kingdom come, let your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” I’m not going to tackle the why our prayers aren’t answered at times but I will speak to the fact that Prayer often changes us as we do it and I have found that it changed me in a profound way.

I did not get the answer to my prayer to heal my daughter Boey.

Actually that is not true, we got many instances of miracles that I would say were given to us as signs. In the end we did not get the answer to our cries. It was then that I actually spend a lot of time really “storming” Heaven.

The storming was not like troupes but rather like the great billowy clouds of Oregon that brings storms of rain and thunder.

I thundered at GOD. I yelled and I cried. The storms that I unleashed are unparalleled in the history of my heart. I literally stormed Heaven and I was brutally real for the first time in such a long time. I stripped away the veneer of “my confession” I set down my scripture verses and trying to believe and I was very very real with my Father and I stormed Heaven.

I would like to say that I heard a voice from Heaven and I was comforted. That was not what happened. However the given situation it felt appropriate and honoring to my daughter and be real. When I was truthful I was often able to relax the rage inside my guts. I would sleep like a baby.

Telling the truth and “storming Heaven” with our truthful tears and angers and guts is the greatest form of prayer I have ever prayed. And it is part of my history in my relationship with God. Rather than receive a lightning bolt of rebuke I often received signs of Gods love and understanding that I can share in future blogs or perhaps in my book.

I have found it secret key to my whole spiritual life. Hmm Being truthful…who would have thought.

Storming Heaven… I think I will tonight… But I don’t think it means what you think it does.

Messy

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

he other day I was at someone’s house when they said to me, “Sorry about the mess.” I laughed and said, “That’s ok. You should see my relationships.”

I made a joke but I knew that what I said was serious; some of my relationships have been cluttered and messy. When a house is used things get left out and stuff gets messy. Relationships are the same way for everyone. Misunderstandings and issues arise just as part of life. Once in a while a living room, as well as a relationship needs to be tended to and things put away.

When a parent loses a child, relationship’s are one of the things that can become awfully difficult. This comes with the territory. Many of the families that I have spoken to that have lost children share the same struggles with relationships. The great sadness that descends when the child is gone seems to somehow re-wire the brain.

Grief is isolating by nature. No one really can relate unless they have been through it. The prolonged nature of it (As in the rest of your life) creates many situations where expectations can be disappointed, beliefs can create chasms and misunderstandings can abound.

I heard a statistic that somewhere over 95% of marriages where a child has died end in divorce. I can understand why this happens. The desire to escape the pain can be great. Not knowing what to do can often cause a person to look to the other person. To place expectations on the other person to meet needs is a problem for all marriages. The need for relief can push that temptation to new levels and when both partners are feeling so weak it can be devastating.

People are not meant to be used just to meet needs. This is true of spouses, friends, family, children, everyone. When my needs and wants are not met this is fertile ground to be offended. The hard thing to admit is that in grieving, the need to be whole can NEVER be met by people. Peace cannot be found by others doing things different. Pain cannot be quelled by anyone. It just needs to be endured, felt, and processed by the person.

In this time 1 Peter 5:8 is quite true; “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” In nature, a lion will hunt for the weakest of the flock to kill and devour. The same is true, Peter says, of the enemy of our souls. I have seen his handiwork found in many grieving parents. His favorite trap in one word; Offense.

We build walls around our hearts when we become offended. Love stagnates and nothing comes in. This results in selfishness, betrayal, and hatred. Offended people justify their behavior rather than repent of unforgiveness. Jesus did not take revenge on those who did Him wrong. He repaid evil with good and trusted in God to judge righteously. We need to follow His example.

I did not notice that these patterns were found in my relationship with my wife, that is until we sought counseling and it was pointed out to me my own selfishness and efforts to get my wife to meet my needs. The last year and a half we have been unraveling the ways in which we placed unfair expectations upon each other and the funny thing is that as we have let go we have found that we both naturally meet those needs much easier. It has been an amazing process of transformation that we unravel a little bit more each day and each day we both feel freer.

In listening to sermons this week on offense I am recognizing a heart of offense in other relationships. I did not realize that I was offended because it doesn’t look like I expected. The signs that pointed to it was how I avoid engaging with anyone and keep to myself. I think I have used the fact that I am grieving to justify my heart. You know, saying, “They just don’t understand.” This is true, they don’t understand, however God did not give me the license to harbor offense toward anyone, even though I am grieving.

So soon I will be contacting a few people to work through a few things. I will pray for a few days first and talk about and release my feelings to GOD. I’d do it right now, but I’ve got to get my jacket and shoes out of the living room..they’re cluttering this place up.