Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joy in Sorrow

I've really been missing my dad. Not only will this be my first Christmas without him, but December 26 (the day my whole family always gathers together) marks the one year anniversary of the last day I saw my dad.

As the Christmas countdown nears, my heart fills with more sadness. So many mixed emotions.

Memories flash of Christmases past...

Breaking open the book of LifeSavers candies he always stuffed in our stocking. Tearing through a package he sealed with an abundance of scotch tape. Dad in his traditional argyle sweater, corduroy slacks, and leather loafers.

But today as the tears flowed and I thought about what this Christmas will be like without Dad, God so graciously reminded me,

Precious Becky, though you grieve not being able to celebrate Jesus' birth with your dad this year, I REJOICE that he is celebrating the Lord Jesus WITH Him, with Me, here in heaven!

My first Christmas without Dad means Dad's first Christmas with the Savior.

True joy in sorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dear Me

Every time I see the cheesy sweet license plate frame that reads, "I Love My Life as Mommy and Wife" I think, "Me, too!!"

And though I wouldn't trade the blessings of my husband or children for an-y-thing, there are days when being a stay-at-home mom to two HIGHLY ACTIVE toddlers is just plain exhausting.

There are days when getting through the next two hours feels like my Everest. Days when fifteen-month-old Elias is climbing in the oven drawer while almost-three-year-old Noah is coloring on the table shouting "Uh-oh, Noah use crayons! Look, fishy!" Days when Eli learns to scale a new piece of furniture while Noah learns to use the kitchen counter as a jungle gym. Yes, some days the two hours till nap time can feel like a lifetime.

Yet, I have friends more seasoned in life who tell me that the two decades they spent raising children came and went faster than a summer breeze. The days are long but the years are short, they say.

In this stage of life it's hard for me to imagine that. But tonight, as I was rocking my sweet little boys before bed, I tried to imagine...tried to think about how I might feel two decades from now when my boys are grown. I tried to imagine what 49-year-old Becky might say to 29-year-old Becky to encourage her when she's struggling to climb the next two-hour mountain. I imagine she might say something like this...

Dear Me,

You're doing fine. Actually, you're doing more than fine. You're doing great. Stop being so hard on yourself, and just remember a few simple things...

Stop worrying so much about what other people think. God has gifted you and Chris uniquely to love and raise and train these children. Use wisdom and follow your heart.

Care less about Eli's constant trail of cracker crumbs...one day you'll have time for clean and shiny floors.

Don't rush rocking Noah each night. Savor each time he asks for one more song. The dishes can wait 15 more minutes, and the day will come when you'll long to sing another verse of Gentle Shepherd and feel his even breathing.

Rejoice each time Elias reaches his arms up to be held or crawls into your lap. The task he's interrupting can wait, but the days he'll want you so near are numbered.

Pause before you scold Noah when he won't stop running in the house or jumping on the bed, and thank the Lord for his strong legs and adventurous spirit. How you delight in who he is is just as important as how you discipline his behavior.

Take time each day to soak up their sweet smiles and silly sayings. Memorize the curves of their cheeks and the light in their eyes. One day these precious little boys will grow into strong and independent men. They will still love you. But their hugs and cuddles and kisses will never be the same.

And above all else, dear Becky, remember that your loving God is with you every step of the way. Trust him for this blessed journey he's set you on. Look to him always. He will give you the strength and patience and grace you need every hour, every day.

You can do it! You ARE doing it.

All my love,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Is Nothing?

I recently found myself opening my refrigerator...

staring inside at this...

and muttering in disappointment...

"There's nothing to eat."

No yogurt, chicken, apples, or milk. No yummy leftovers or enticing ingredients for a fresh, delicious dinner.

Nope, nothing to eat. In fact, those words had escaped my lips several times in the past few days. We were overdue for a trip to Costco and the grocery store. And each time I flung open that stainless steel door and glanced over those white plastic shelves, my desire for something convenient to satisfy my current culinary craving grew...along with my discontentment.

As I stood there this last time, (listening to the low mechanical hum, enjoying a few moments with my personal air conditioner, and  mildly imagining that if I waited long enough a teriyaki chicken bowl or slice of boysenberry pie might magically appear,) three simple words surfaced in my mind asking me the question...

What is nothing?

I refocused my eyes on the refrigeration landscape before me, and this time a new picture emerged.

A dozen eggs. A large jar of applesauce. Brown rice and corn tortillas. An unopened block of Tillamook cheddar cheese. Pasta sauce and peanut butter and Rosarita pinto beans.

Do I really believe that is "nothing"?

Instantly, my greedy heart was filled with remorse. How can I be so ungrateful? Men and women and children all over this wide world live with the piercing pangs of hunger. Thousands die every day...and not because they didn't have a convenient snack. Nothing to them means starvation, a slow and painful death.

Yet, I have been given SO much!

(This little picture doesn't even include the frozen veggies and fish fillets in the back of my freezer, or the four half-eaten boxes of cereal in the cupboard. Nor the plethora of canned beans in the pantry or the dozens of other edible, nutritional items filling my "empty" kitchen shelves. And my lack of MORE food has nothing to do with access or funds...just a lack of time to buy it.)

"There's nothing to eat." It rolls off the tongue so casually, so flippantly. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one who says it. We all do it. If not about our food, about our fashion. "I have nothing to wear." If not about our fashion, about our job or bank account or family or house.

The subtle grumblings that slip out of our mouths are a telling indication of the ingratitude in our hearts.

When I say, "There's nothing to eat...I have nothing to wear..."

I'm really saying,..

"God, your gifts aren't good enough.
God, your provisions are imperfect.
If it were up to me, Lord, I'd do a better job."

Lord Jesus, please forgive my ungratefulness. Thank you for the bounty of blessings you have poured out on me. Please increase my awareness of these small ways I allow discontentment to creep into my heart. I know it grieves you in a big way. Grow in me a heart of gratitude, that others might see thankfulness in my attitude and actions, and in so doing, that they might see more of You.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Like the Wind

Grief is a strange thing.

It reminds me of the wind.

Sometimes you can see a storm brewing in the distance. You know that high winds are on their way. You have time to prepare, to brace yourself for the force coming at you. Other times strong gusts appear as if from nowhere. Their strength almost knocking you down.

Then there is grief like a subtle breeze. It grazes your shoulders and whispers in your ear, a gentle reminder that something outside of you is stirring something within you.

It's been five months since my dad passed away.

Though I'm comforted knowing my earthly father is at peace in the presence of his Heavenly One, still...

I haven't much liked this journey of grief.

Haven't liked the days when the ache of loss is wind pushing at my back. When grief is the driving force in my heart and mind. Nor have I enjoyed when it comes at me like a blustery headwind, making it hard to take even one small step toward healing. And the days and weeks with seemingly no wind at all feel like a welcomed reprieve...until a whirly, twirly tornado darts in from my blind spot carrying the force of all the unspoken memories and unexpressed emotions of those quiet, windless days.

*     *     *

Sometimes I feel like grieving is a foreign language I'm suddenly expected to know. But instead of being fluent I'm stumbling to eek out an intelligible groan. I wish I knew more about grieving.

But I do know a few more things about the wind.

Wind is not always destructive. Its power can be productive, harnessed for helpfulness as by the beautiful sail of a boat on the open sea.

Wind can be cleansing. It can push out pollutants, leaving a clear sky and fresh, breathable, life-giving air.

Wind can be refreshing. The kiss of a cool breeze is renewing relief when the sun's scorching rays reach down for you.

Yes, grief is very much like the wind.

I don't fully understand where it comes from or where it leads. Why or how it can take so many forms. I don't know what course it will take or what purpose it will have on a given day. Don't always know how to prepare for it or find joy in it or be moved by it.

But I know it's Maker. I know Him, and I trust Him.

This picture reminds me of the beauty and chaos and peace and movement that comes with the wind.

I'm asking God that my grief would be the same.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More Than Words

It's often said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

On this Father's Day, I could use more than ten thousand words to describe the amazing moments in my husband's fatherhood journey. But, instead, I'll let these pictures tell some of the story.

Chris, you are an INCREDIBLE daddy to our boys. Noah and Elias love you, need you, appreciate you, and adore you. And so do I. Thank you for who you are and what you do for our family. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bummed or Blessed

There was a day a couple weeks back that I really wanted to hang out with a friend. But everyone I called was busy. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but on this particular day it really bummed me out.

Another boring day at home by myself with the boys, choking down another peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then playing the same games with the same toys while the minutes lurch along like a tired turtle...is how I was feeling about the day.

I just needed someone to help me break up the monotony of routine.
But no one was available.
So I was left to sulk alone.

But in the midst of my sulking I realized I wasn't alone.

There was an adorable little boy to my right.
And an adorable littler boy to my left.

Why are you bummed about spending time with these two little blessings? The part of me who wasn't stuck in a funk asked the part of me who was. Don't be bummed about the way your day didn't go...be blessed by the way you can make it go!

And with that, I decided to ditch the bummed and don the blessed and I took my two adorables on a date with their mommy!

I strapped on my sneakers and strapped the boys in the stroller and we walked to the little Italian place in the Village. Just breathing in the fresh air on our way there made me feel better. But the huge pay-off came when Noah's face beamed with pure delight when I said the P-word...pizza! It was the best news of his life!

We sat outside and ate and talked and people watched.
Me and my adorable dates.

After our tummies were full we continued our walk, looking for more beauty and blessings to soak up along with some warm, sunny rays.

Like this yellow blossomed tree. Amazing.

I also loved walking past our church. Love the old stone construction. Love that Noah squeals with excitement when we pass his Sunday School classroom.

And like my little Elias,
at the end of our double stroller date,
I was  peaceful and content.

No room for bummed when I'm undeniably BLESSED.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Shining Knight on a Dismal Day

Last week my husband and I found ourselves in the Emergency Room with our eight-month-old sweetheart trying to figure out the cause of his twelve-day-long fever.

If you're a parent (or any sane individual) the ER is one of the last places you ever want to be. But on our pediatrician's urging, we were there and ready to get some answers about our son's mysterious illness.

I'll tell you up front that our trip to the ER turned into a nine-hour-long ordeal, at the end of which we learned a lot of things Elias did NOT have, and were left with the less-than-comforting diagnosis of an unnamed virus or bacterial infection. (Praises to God that his fever is now gone and he seems okay!)

But that's not really why I'm writing.

I'm writing to tell you that in a strange way, the ridiculously long wait and heart-wrenching experience of watching my baby get stuck by needles, a catheter, and antibiotic injection was somehow worth the agony because through it, I saw a different side of the man I married...

I saw the Knight in Shining Armor.

While cooped up in the dingy, disease-infested waiting room for the first four and a half hours of our stay, we witnessed two blatant acts of indecency by hospital workers. Their appalling inaction spurred my husband to take action.

The first incident occurred when a hospital orderly passed a few feet in front of a woman wheezing for breath. She waved her hand to solicit his help. He turned and clearly looked right at her...but kept on walking. Chris and I looked at each other. Shocked. The worker exited the front door and quickly returned with a wheelchair for another nearby patient.

The next thing I know, my husband was gone from the seat next to me and was standing in front of the worker. Chris confronted the man and asked why he didn't stop to help the woman. Why he saw her pleading wave and walked right by.

The man's response: "It's not my job."

Chris went on to explain that helping people is his job. In the meantime, the poor woman was still gesturing for help, at which point Chris turned to the crew of staff members huddled behind the reception desk gawking at the scene, and asked them if anyone was going to help her.

"I think she needs some water," Chris offered.
"She can't have any water," was the receptionist's reply.

Just then, the distressed patient finally found her voice and yelled out that all she needed was a vomit bag.

Again, no one moved.

"Is anybody going to help her?!" Chris exclaimed.
"Yes, sir, we have it taken care of," shot a cool voice with an icy look from behind the counter.

Sure they did.

Later in the night, a staff member emerged from the treating area and called another name. A small, elderly woman stood and began to gather a half dozen grocery bags piled at her feet. The staffer passed the patient and said to follow her. The hospital worker saw the large load the patient was trying to carry but didn't offer to help. In fact, she didn't even pause. She looked and continued her brisk pace.

Again, Chris and I exchanged a look of dismay.

(Earlier we had overheard the EMT who assisted this patient inside relay to the check-in staff that the woman had been in car accident and had a large laceration on her head...information that would have been clearly stated on the chart in the I'm-too-busy-to-take-time-to-care staffer's hands.)

This time Chris didn't say a word.

He just rushed to the shaken woman's aid and took the grocery sacks out of her frail little hands. Together they tried to catch up with the worker, but trailed her the whole way. In broken English, the injured patient thanked my husband a dozen times or more. The hospital employee said nothing.

The events that night both defeated and restored my faith in humanity.

It still makes me sick to my stomach thinking about how those ER workers (who are supposed to be in the business of helping hurting people) had become so calloused to their jobs that they had lost common courtesy, decency, and respect for their fellow man.

Yet my heart swelled with pride for the most courteous, decent, and respectful man I married.

He wasn't trying to be a hero. He was just doing the right thing.

And on that dismal day, his light shone bright.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Well, friends, it's been exactly one year since my humble little blog began.

365 of days have lent themselves to 48 posts.
(That is, 48 posts that made it from words on my heart to writing on the Web...dozens more still waiting in the mental archives.)

My tiny corner of the blogisphere has become a homey place I look forward to spending time in...sharing my heart and getting to hear from yours.

And it's been quite a year...

There's been grumbling and gratitude
and a store clerk with attitude.
The sorrow of death and joy of birth,
and thoughts on productivity, for what it's worth.
I've preached the power of my walking shoes
and truly wanting whatever you choose.
Love can be shown in really strange ways
and I'm trying to savor all of these days.
I've been spiritually revived and found resolve
and as God prompts I'll continue to blog.

Whether it's been about the meaningful or mundane, thank you (truly, I thank you) for reading along and sharing in these moments that make up my journey.

[The title of this post is an ode to my "Friend" Monica's "Happy Planiversary"/"Happy Vegasversary."]

Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Zing or Not to Zing?

Today I encountered a person I was really tempted to zing.
(Watch You've Got Mail to understand what I mean.)

On my daily walk with the boys we pass a local pet store. To Noah's pure delight, we stop and admire the puppies prancing in the glass enclosures. Occasionally we go inside to check out the variety of other cuddly creatures. As we came upon the shop today, Noah got super excited and repeatedly asked to see the kitties. He loves kitties.

So I turned the double stroller 90 degrees and entered the little store. The smiling ladies who usually man the front counter were nowhere in sight. The place was altogether vacant. As I was explaining to Noah that the cat cages were empty because all the furry kitties had found nice homes, an unfamiliar woman emerged from the back of the store.
"Can I help you with something?" she asked.

"Oh, no thank you," I replied. "We're just enjoying the animals."

"That's what zoos are for," she said sternly.
It took me a moment to realize the implication of her remark.
In an instant I was shocked and sad and angry.

I wanted to say...

"Excuse me? Do you seriously want to deprive an innocent child from the joy of marveling at a fluffy bunny or scaly snake because you're not sure our presence is going to improve your bottom line? You are a sad, bitter woman to say such a thing. My son loves animals. And today's browsing very well may have turned into tomorrow's buying, but you better believe that this is the last time I'm ever coming into your stinky store. Though I walk by here every day, when my sons gets his first goldfish or gofer snake, puppy or parakeet, I am going to trek on down to PetCo and happily give my patronage to a big-business chain instead of your sorry little independent excuse for a quaint small-town store. Good day."

In other words, I wanted to zing her.

Instead, I turned the stroller around and said,

"Thank you. Have a nice day."
And walked out.

All the way home I replayed the conversation as it happened, and the one I had wanted to have. I honestly didn't feel better for having been polite instead of lashing back. I was so irritated that this lady's attitude was now going to deprive my little boy of a simple daily pleasure. I felt that she was rude and I wanted to repay her with rudeness. And as I walked away I wasn't sure why I didn't.

Then the words from the verse I had memorized earlier in the day came to mind:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. -Romans 13:8
Huh, I thought. What's the application in this context? I'm not indebted to this salesperson. I don't owe her anything..."except the continuing debt to love."

Without forethought or intention, God had used his Word written on my heart to allow me to love this woman with my words...or lack thereof. Not because I'm amazing. (No, I wanted to zing her.) But because he is.

As I continued to reflect on the incident, I began to feel good about my response. Not only do I want to be a good example for my boys, but I also want to be a good representative of the God I love and live for.

What if I would have lashed back with the verbal sewage in my mind and then (somehow) been asked by the woman, Are you a Christian? I would have undoubtedly felt ashamed. Or what if she was having a horrible day? What if she had just lost her dad or was in the middle of a personal crisis or was under financial stress and a harsh word was her unfortunate way with dealing with it all? Though I didn't feel it in that moment, I'm so thankful that God's love and compassion somehow permeated my heart and made it to my mouth so that my words did not offend.

*     *     *

Later in the day I became doubly thankful God helped me hold my tongue...

When my husband got home from work I shared the incident with him. He suggested I inform the store owner of the encounter so they're aware of their employee's poor conduct. I thought that was a good idea and told him I'd think about it. But later when I was in the other room he decided to call on my behalf to relieve me of the burden.

He ended up speaking with the woman who identified herself as the store manager and acknowledged that she matched the physical description I gave.

He explained what was said. She was completely apologetic. She didn't remember saying that and said that she loved kids and welcomed all visitors into the store. She felt terrible that I had somehow misunderstood her and assured that she would never intentionally say that and was so sorry if she hurt my feelings. She asked that I please come back anytime I'd like.

*    *    *


I honestly don't think I misheard her.
But she sounded very genuine.
And really, it doesn't matter who is right.

Someday soon...maybe tomorrow...I'll go back to the pet shop.
If she's there, I'll talk to her.
And I'll trust God to lead me through the conversation.

With God as my guide, no zingers needed. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011


There are many things you consider when choosing a spouse: personality, physical attraction, religious beliefs, life goals, and overall compatibility, just to name a few.

And then there's the inlaws. Most of us have heard the old saying,
"You're not only marrying him, you're marrying his whole family."
This is usually said as a warning. As in, be willing to welcome (or at least tolerate) all the baggage your future inlaws will bring. Like the uncle with no concept of personal space or the sister who gives backhanded compliments. [Not my personal experience, just random examples.]

For better or for worse, when you marry someone, you are saying "I do" to the whole inlaw enchilada.

Chris and his dad on our wedding day.

So naturally while dating, Chris and I talked about this...knowing that neither of our families were perfect and there were prickly areas on both sides that would require acceptance.

Now, five and a half years after making my vows, I believe that "warning" was less a word of caution and more a word of encouragement. For any inlaw baggage I've dealt with has truly paled in comparison to the blessings I've enjoyed.

I could write an impressive list of all the ways Chris' parents have blessed us over the years. But none have touched my heart more deeply than the acts of love and service they have shown me following my father's passing. 

As soon as they heard the news, my father-in-law was on his way to pick up Noah so I wouldn't have to run after a two-year-old while the shock and pain of my dad's death was so raw. Taking Noah gave me space to grieve and Chris the freedom to support me, as well as the time we needed to focus on all the immediate tasks of planning the funeral. They are the best grandparents in the world and I was so blessed to know that my son was in their fun, safe, loving care.

The blessings continued when my mother-in-law told me she was going to complete my work for the month to my credit. (I'm a part-time, independent contractor for the company she works for full time.) This meant that I didn't have to attempt to concentrate on work in the midst of my sorrow or worry about not fulfilling my professional obligation or suffering financially.

Three days later they brought Noah home with his backpack full of clean clothes and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They offered their continued help and support. Watch the boys during the funeral. Make food for the reception. Whatever we needed, they were there.

They came over early the following Saturday to clean my house. I needed a clean house. I also needed fresh air. So while I took the boys for a long walk, Chris and his parents vacuumed and dusted and scrubbed. I was humbled. And so very grateful.

The next weekend they were back. We were having a huge garage sale for all of my dad's things. As the sun began to rise, my father-in-law helped Chris set up tables and carry furniture out of the garage. My mother-in-law stayed inside with me and the boys...I couldn't handle haggling with strangers over the price of my dad's books or sweaters. When I was ready, she went on a walk with me and the kids and later picked up lunch for us all. They helped pack up all the unsold items and took as many bags as their Honda would hold to the Goodwill.

So many tangible acts of love.
So many selfless acts of service.
(Now I know where their incredible son gets it from!)

Pat and Lelia, the word inlaw no longer fits.
You are my family. My second mom and dad.

My blessing.

(Note: Lelia hates pictures of herself, which is why I'm "blessing" her by not including one.)

Friday, February 11, 2011


I'm 29 years old today.

It's been 15 days since my dad passed away. He was 59.

2 pieces of my heart run and crawl around outside of me.
Noah is 2. Elias is 7 months.

I've been married to my best friend for 5 years, 6 months, and 13 days.

I cried this morning thinking about how this is my 1st birthday without my dad. He would have called me and left a message that said,
"Hi, Becky, it's your dad. Just calling to wish you a happy birthday. I'd love to take you and Chris and the boys out to celebrate if you want. Anytime is good for me. Whatever works with your schedule. No pressure. Love you."
I did get 2 voicemails, 3 birthday cards, 14 text messages, and 65 Facebook posts from other friends and family sending me birthday wishes.

3 is the number of times I cleaned up throw up and washed bed linens from my poor Noah Bear. I used about 47 tissues to wipe 3 snotty noses and lots of salty tears. (I'm SO over this winter cold season!)

But taking care of sick kiddos by a sick mamma was helped by 1 beautiful bunch of flowers from my amazing husband and 1 delicious bouquet of fruit from my sweet friend.

And when I'm sad, thinking about Dad, God brings Psalm 103 to my mind and speaks to my heart about how the darkness and redemption in Dad's life is a testimony to the truth of His Word.

So what do all of these numbers add up to?

Immeasurable blessings.

Infinite opportunities to trust in...to lean hard on the Lord.

I don't know if I'd call this a "happy" birthday. But I am full of hope.

So, hopey birthday to me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Remembering Dad

A week ago today, my father passed away.
These are the words I shared at his memorial service.

 *     *     *

As I thought about what I wanted to share today, I thought about many of the things Dad loved:

Coffee, Necco Wafers, and ice cream. Polo shirts and puzzles. Sports, sports, and sports. Dad loved reading John Grisham books and traveling around the world. He couldn’t get enough blue cheese dressing on his salad or meat sauce on his spaghetti. He loved playing croquet at the park and Chinese checkers at the kitchen table. He was always up for a chicken dinner at Knotts or a hot dog at Angel stadium. Dad loved American history, family genealogy, and a good breakfast buffet. But most of all he loved his daughters, his grandchildren, and our faithful God.

Like all of us sitting here today, my dad wasn’t perfect. And I know he wouldn’t want me to tell you that he was. But as I’ve thought back on his life as I knew him, I am truly blessed by so many wonderful memories…so many meaningful moments when my dad was there for me when it mattered most.

When my mom woke up in the middle of the night to find our garage engulfed in a roaring fire, Dad was there to fight the blaze with a garden hose while Mom ushered Annie, Mary, and me (and my favorite stuffed monkey) to safety. He lost a slipper but helped save the house.

When I was a Girl Scout, Dad was there to take me to the Father Daughter Dance. He twirled me in my pink poodle skirt and let me have punch and cookies to my heart’s content.

When I stood for my trumpet solo at the East Whittier Pops Concert or at the free throw line on the basketball court…when I crossed the finish line after three miles at a cross country meet or after 400 meters around the track, Dad was there cheering me on.

He was there for our yearly trips to Big 5 to buy new basketball shoes. He helped me pick out my retro aqua track cleats. And when I earned my Varsity letter, he was there to take me to Sergeants in Uptown Whittier and let me spend as much time as I needed to decide what style of jacket to get and which patches should go where.

And Dad was always there to take us to Disneyland. I don’t know a parent who enjoyed the Magic Kingdom more. Together we zoomed through Space Mountain, zipped around the Matterhorn, and held on to our hats and glasses for the wildest ride in the wilderness. Disney parades and stage shows and churros. Dad was there for them all.

When I needed to tour the San Gabriel Mission for my fourth grade project, Dad was there. And later when it came time to tour college campuses he was there for that, too. Together we weighed the pros and cons of each university and I knew he’d support me in whatever decision I made.

When I spent a college summer in Kings Canyon National Park, Dad and Esther drove the windy mountain roads to come see me work and minister beneath the clear blue skies and massive sequoias.

Birthday dinners at Benihana, graduation brunch at The Ritz, Dad was there to celebrate each meaningful milestone.

And of course he was there on the three most important days of my life, too…he walked me down the aisle when I said “I do” to my amazing husband, Chris. And he held Noah and Elias on the days his grandsons were born.

And like all dads, he was there to teach me things. How to be as competitive as he was at Gin Rummy, Sequence, Pounce, and Risk…though Risk I never won. He taught me that you can never use too much Scotch tape when wrapping presents. Peanut butter and pancakes are a perfect combination. And you can fit any amount of luggage and souvenirs in the trunk of a compact car. “It’s solid geometry,” he’d say. “Solid geometry.”

And at the end of his life, whether he was trying to or not, he taught me more than I ever knew about God’s amazing grace. That there is no valley too dark or pit too deep for the redemptive love of God. Through Dad’s life, I saw the Lord answer what at times I thought were impossible prayers. Dad’s struggles and triumphs, life and death have strengthened my faith in immeasurable ways. And perhaps that is the greatest gift a father can give.

Ralph D. Pickett
October 21, 1951—January 27, 2011

I love you, Dad.

Friday, January 7, 2011

More and Less...I Resolve.

I resolve to think more about my health
and less about my looks.
More water,
less Diet Coke.
More exercise when I have the motivation
and more when I don't.

I resolve to savor more todays
and wish less for possible tomorrows.
More gratitude,
less grumbling.

I resolve to be the spouse, parent, sister, friend I want to have.
More listening,
less talking.
More love, compassion, grace.

I resolve to accept that we don't have to work more
if we're willing to want less.
I resolve to view our money and possessions as what they actually are--
on loan from God to accomplish His purposes.
More time in the Word,
less on the Web.
More prayer,
less people-pleasing.

I resolve to spend less energy thinking about what I want to do, ought to do,
and more time just doing it.

More of Him,
less of me.

I resolve.