Monday, June 27, 2011

thankful - note 1 of 50

a friend of mine recently decided to commemorate her 50th birthday by writing 50 'thank you' notes to God, and when her invitation came to join in, i couldn't resist. intuitively, this seems like a good project for me. i have so much to be thankful for and think of myself as a thankful person, yet i've not really written about it in a sustained way. i doubt that i'll post all 50 notes online -- some things are best left between a person and God -- but i'll share the ones that seem appropriate, hopefully by number.

yesterday, after a protracted second battle with cancer, my friend w went home to be with the Lord. it is, perhaps, a strange place to begin a series of 'thank you' notes to God, as i have to admit that there is a bit of mystery and frustration for me surrounding her death. we had prayed (and occasionally fasted) for a long time, both individually and then corporately at lighthouse, where we just completed a 21-day 'season of prayer' on friday. and while i am confident that w is in a much better place -- where she can see Jesus face-to-face and worship him cancer-free, with dancing and leaping and singing, where the Lord himself wipes the tears from her eyes and where the long battle with cancer can finally recede into the background of a glorious new day that stretches limitlessly into the future -- it was not what i was praying for. not exactly, anyway.  at some later date, perhaps i'll write a reflection on how i sort out all of that. but today, i want to thank God for w's life. she was a tiny little thing, but big in prayer and in her impact on the lives of those around her. she will be missed by many, including me, but by none more than her husband d and daughter j.

one of the ways that God has leveraged this season of battling in prayer for w's life is to remind me to take stock of my own and to be proactive about my choices. at the end of w's life, it was a struggle for her to live and love each day. they were so filled with pain and struggle and unpleasant-but-seemingly-necessary tasks. she had no choice. but i do. and yet somehow, in the busyness of life, i find myself just trying to get through each week, getting the necessary tasks done, instead of actually living. i don't consider the big picture of what God is trying to accomplish in and through my life, nor the hopes and dreams that reside in my heart, tucked away from public view -- and sometimes even my own. i don't take enough time with the people i love, and i fritter away my discretionary time on interesting distractions (e.g. posting and discussing articles and issues on facebook) rather than taking on some bigger projects. perhaps more on that last to come...

i met yesterday with a couple of friends with whom i share and pray occasionally, and we talked some about what stephen covey famously called the 'big rocks' (the video at that link is hilarious -- and instructive). i'm not an uncritical admirer of covey, but he got this part right: if we don't get the important things in first, some of them are sure to be crowded out by lesser things.

i am grateful for the reminder that this life is not all we have, but also that this life is a gift. thank you, Father, for the encouragement to live it well. and teach me to number my days, that i may apply my heart unto wisdom (psalm 90:12).

Monday, June 20, 2011

best father's day gift ever

i love being a dad. it's been one of my greatest joys in a life filled with blessing. on father's day this year, m and n took me (b is in washington dc with IJM for the summer) for the traditional meal out -- this time, it was a delicious visit to aguacateros, a relatively new taqueria here in our area; i had the flautas. b called on the phone, and together, they gave me a certificate for the book of my choice. and then, during the 'grilling' -- a family tradition for all of our celebrations from birthdays to end-of-school-year parties in which we interview the person being honored, then pray for them -- the girls gifted me a document entitled "father's day 2011 -- 22 things we like about our dad."
that document is a treasure. there are a variety of items in the list -- some funny ("taught us the joys of the george foreman grill), others poignant ("dedicated us to God every night")  -- but the concluding item (#22) is my favorite: "our earthly father was not perfect, but through the way he loved us, comforted us, taught us, gave us perspective, and encouraged us to be the best we could be, he gave us a glimpse of the character of our Father in heaven." as a dad, that's the best compliment i could ever hope for.
but what i really savored was being interviewed and prayed for by my surprisingly mature daughters -- godly young women who are seeking God with their whole hearts and want to be a part of his redemptive plan for all creation. i couldn't help but be impressed and amazed by the people that they are growing up to be. they are the best father's day gift -- the one God himself has given.

a shout out to b and n -- i love you, and i love being your dad