Once Upon a Time…

FullSizeRender (5)Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a doe-eyed baby girl kissed with dimples and sprinkled with heavenly prayers was placed in the arms of two naïve “kids”. They loved one another and this princess with every ounce of their being, but had no idea just how much this princess would teach them about life, love, and happiness. Today, twenty-one years later, they continue to find themselves completely honored by the privilege and gift of her in their lives.

You see, this is not just any ordinary princess dressed in pink and donning a crown; this one has no need for such grand flare and dismisses such things as “silly”. She’s a blue jeans kind of princess who unknowingly leaves behind glittery sparkles wherever she goes. Her smile alone lights up an entire room and is more than contagious; it has the ability to lower guards and invite others into friendship because somehow it communicates what words struggle to do and accepts others no matter what. It is grace-filled and loving. IMG_3766

As you might expect, this princess is both witty and sassy. She is strong and speaks her mind–fully unaware that the Truth that lives within her is a light to others. Her unique perspective is a breath of fresh air because although she speaks her mind, she doesn’t realize the depth her words hold. In the chaos, in the mundane, where most others stop at the surface, she dives deeper searching for meaning and soul. She has a desperate need to know and to be known. She is respectful and honoring to others for who they are and where they are without judgement.

Her creativeness is abstract, witty, and innocent, which reflects the jazzy rhythm of her heart and the way in which she takes on each and every day. She goes with the flow, holds no agenda, and yet lays her head down each night completely filled–sometimes filled with happiness, while other times overwhelmed by the injustices and pain surrounding her. She longs to do and be more. She is discontent to leave things as they are and knows she has a responsibility to be part of the solution–if she, if we, only knew what that was. She wears her heart on her sleeve.

FullSizeRender (12)Her parents were convinced early on that she was given an extra scoop of emotion because her passion is truly unmatched. Unmatched! Sadly—naively– her parents used to want to harness some of her wildness—often mimicking recklessness– tame it, make it more presentable to the world, help her not to feel so deeply that at times she was incapacitated. The thing is, this princess is a warrior child and even in the moments where she was brokenhearted, her heart was also constructing a plan for how to take action. She prays, writes, yells, cries–and at the end–she picks herself up and warriors on.

You see, her now middle-aged parents dreamed of their princess from the moment they knew she would soon enter the world and be their responsibility. They dreamed of lazy summer days picking flowers. They dreamed of cuddles on the couch reading Jane Austin or learning side-by-side in whatever life threw their way. They pictured a delicate, well-behaved princess dressed in pink and fitting into their well-crafted dreams for her–for them. They knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but they believed the Son would still shine over them in the difficult times.

Never in their wildest dreams did they envision the hurricane that stormed into their lives 21 years ago, forever altering their lives, forever etching memories–some being hilarious–such as the time she clung to a scantily dressed, headless mannequin in the window of Victoria’s Secret screaming at the top of her lungs that *this* was her mother, which alarmingly alerted all strangers and security in the mall to believe, briefly, that her “real” mother was a child abductor as she tried prying her delightful 3-year-old from the bare leg. (this was not funny at the time)

While some memories are hilarious, others have left chinks in Princess’ armor, which cannot be buffed out, nor does she want them to be because they serve as a reminder of where she has been, what she has learned and why she is loveable as she is. Her value and worth have nothing to do with those chinks, but everything to do with the hand of the One who held her through each and every trial, the One who forgives and gives grace, the One who lavishes love without regret or the expectation of repayment. Her scars now serve as a well-worn path to the rugged cross where she is reminded that she was born for so much more than all of this—that this life is temporary—and that she is still the object of His affection no matter what she does. She is His. In these great battles, she didn’t realize that she was teaching her parents to trust God, rely on Him to protect and guide her.

IMG_3906Those initial dreams the princess’ parents had, had been incomplete, lacking the depth and life that princess has added in an array of unexpected ways. The couple was blissfully naive. No one dreams of fighting, tears, heartache, death…and yet, the Son still shines, love lives on–strengthening, evolving, with each new lesson.

It’s the princess’ twenty-first birthday today, a day that floods her parent’s minds with memories of old and dreams for the future. Ultimately, it’s a day that fills their hearts with so, so much gratitude for the gift of her–and all, all that she is to them, to the world. She probably has no idea the impact she makes when she walks into a room let alone how she has literally made her parents’ lives richer, fuller, happier. She probably has no idea that she has taught them to love more.

I know it’s her birthday, but I kind of feel like it’s mine because without a doubt, we were given one of the greatest gifts in all the world the day she was placed in our arms. Wishing you the happiest of all birthdays Dear Abigail. I love you with all I am and all I ever hope to be.

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Wasted No More

IMG_3712The truth is the majority of people are wasting their lives. Admittedly, I’ve wasted a good portion of mine. Because of pride; and some out of ignorance. Some spend their entire lives seeking fulfillment or happiness and though they find it in an array of areas, it is fleeting. Always. And when joy fades, the search begins all over again, but this time with a chink in our armor that reminds us that we failed somehow, somewhere. Sometimes this takes a toll on our identity because we no longer know exactly where we fit or what we need (or should) be doing; we just know it’s something beyond us.

We desire to be a part of a bigger, grander plan. It’s not that we think we have to do big things, but we want to be a part of something. We want to belong. We want to know our lives account for something beyond our expiration date.

Today marks the sixth year since my Daddy entered Heaven’s gates, the sixth year since he ran into the loving, outstretched arms of his Heavenly Father, the sixth year since he last felt pain, cried, worried, planned, dreamt…. It’s been six years—and not a single day has passed that I do not see his crooked smile in my mind’s eye or hear his voice encouraging me to keep going, to keep perspective when life feels so chaotic, uncertain, or overwhelming. Sometimes I still think I smell his aftershave or feel his rough and calloused hand in mine. I think it’s because I want to more than me losing my mind. I’m easily swept up in the memories of him and have lost moments of time to grief and tears—sometimes unexpectedly. I miss him Every. Single. Day. And every single day I think about both what his life and his death has taught me.

My dad died a young man; he was only 61! He did not get to see many of his “fifth quarter” hopes, dreams, and plans come to fruition. And boy, did he have a great retirement planned—He talked about it for years; literally years. He financially planned, ravenously read about various places and things he hoped to go and do…. To say, “he was giddy with anticipation” is a gross understatement because I’m pretty sure I caught him drooling a time or two when he’d share his next great idea! And although he was filled with so much joy in his dreaming and scheming, he was also counting down the days until its reality. I can still see the way his pale blue eyes danced as he dreamt out loud to anyone willing to listen.

calf-362170_960_720My Dad was a man who lived humbly. He was a dairy farmer for more than half of his life, then a custodian. He didn’t care about worldly possessions, but the ones he had he counted as blessings…gifts from the Lord and would have readily given them up to help someone in need. To the world looking in, he would appear to be a regular Joe, a man who perhaps didn’t achieve as the world pressures. He did not chase after the mighty dollar; he did not seek after prestigious positions, or dress to impress. He was meek, dedicated to his work, devoted to his family and friends and eagerly looked forward to helping others. He longed for little and gave everything. He was humble. He was sacrificial. He was fulfilled. He did not live to the world’s standards and it didn’t bother him for he did not strive to look like the world.

Over the course of his last few years, it was not uncommon for him to crave communion with Christ. He longed to be in His physical presence and would weep as he tried to envision the glory that he would soon encounter. My dad knew he’d run to Jesus if he ever had the chance. He got his chance– and I know he is on his knees singing his heart out to His Lord and Savior.

At his memorial service, where over 450 people attended, I heard countless stories of how my Dad touched their lives in remarkable ways…mostly through his attitude and his servanthood. As someone who knew his heart well, I can say I believe he had the right idea about life for he was a man fulfilled, longing to bring glory to Jesus in everything he did. He did not waste a single day…not one! If my Dad were to read these words, he would shake his head and with tears in his eyes say, “No Beloved, I have barely scratched the surface of living a life worthy of the calling”. “The calling” that he would refer to is a life basked in the hope of Jesus.

As I have spent much time reflecting these past six years since my Dad passed away, I have been repeatedly reminded that life is not about mastering or attaining many things, like the world reflects; it is about being mastered by one great thing! My Dad’s life counted for something eternally…I want to be consumed by that same fire! I don’t want to leave anything left unsaid, anything left undone. I want to use ALL of this life I’ve been given to give God complete glory and honor. Nothing else matters. Literally. #wastednomore

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” Matthew 22:37

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