Lasts and Firsts

The lasts and the firsts
And they're all happening too quickly
And these kids are growing too fast
Pretty soon they'll be gone
And the first day of Kindergarten will only be a distant memory
Can we slow down time just a little bit?
I want to hold you closer and longer
And keep you small
But you just keep growing taller and running farther
It's more than this Mama's heart can handle
And I'm reminded they were never mine to keep forever
All they've ever been are precious gifts
Entrusted to us for just a handful of years
To shape and form
To mold and grow
To love and hold
To give every bit of ourselves until we think we'll break
And then find the strength to give a little more
This tug of war that holds too tight while letting go
Until at last they're out the door
And on their own
Leaving us looking back on
The firsts and the lasts
Every frustration and every accomplishment
The good and the bad
The ups and the downs
They are what our memories are made of
Keep making the most of each one today
And every moment in between

Advertisements

Fatherless on Father’s Day

In Memory of Capt. Arthur Galvan, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in Desert Storm on January 31, 1991.

How is it possible to grieve the loss of someone I’ve never met?

I’ve asked myself this question many times over the last almost 16 years of marriage to Jason. Our wedding day. The birth of daughters. Every significant accomplishment & milestone in our lives has passed without Jason’s Dad here to share it with. I take for granted my own relationship with my Dad because I don’t know the loss Jason suffered as a young boy who lost his Dad. I’ve not yet had to bury a parent. I haven’t walked that road but I watch the pain in my husband’s eyes every time he feels the weight of being fatherless. 

Every January 31st when he marks another year without his Dad. Each November 8th comes around to see another birthday that won’t be celebrated. I watch the tears stream down his face as he remembers his Dad on Memorial Day. And today…fatherless on Father’s Day. I grieve for that empty place in his heart.

Jason is a man of integrity, determination, perseverance, loyalty & hard work but his Dad isn’t here to see it or to tell him how proud he is of the man he has become. I grieve for the missing pieces he longs for from his Dad. We’re raising girls who only know their Grandpa Galvan in name, in stories & in pictures. I grieve for that loss. 

Our lives have been blessed with many people who surround Jason with love & laughter & memories but no one can replace a Dad. Our girls have amazing relationships with the Grandpas they have in their lives but we grieve for what is missing. We know we are not the only ones facing this type of situation but the hurt feels painful just the same.

We look forward to the day where every tear will be wiped away. No more death. No more grieving. No more loss. But until that day comes we embrace the ones we have, remember the ones we’ve lost & hold tight to the memories every step of the way. 

Capt. Arthur Galvan, Air Force 11/8/57 – 1/31/91

Father’s Day Reflections

Thinking about my Dad. Grateful for who he is and how my life has been blessed by him.

What is it about Dads & daughters that always gets me? Is it because my own relationship with my Dad hasn’t always been good that I have such a tender place in my heart on the subject? Or maybe because it’s a picture of my relationship with God as my Father?

My heart melts as I look back at pictures of my husband with our daughters as babies. As I watch him interacting with them in these growing up years I am thankful for a man who is loyal, faithful and strong. I pray these girls are growing up knowing how dearly loved they are by their Dad. 

As parents we can reflect back on our childhood knowing how hard this job of raising kids is. Our parents weren’t perfect and neither are we. There is so much grace to be found & embraced in that realization.

There are so many things I can already say I wish I had done differently as a parent. I know my parents would say the same but there are many parts of my childhood that I see places to be thankful. Especially where my Dad is concerned. 

My Dad has always been a memory-maker. Family vacations were important to him. He & my Mom took us places & gave us experiences that a lot of kids didn’t get to do growing up. I know that took sacrifice & I didn’t show very much gratitude at the time but I see it now. Thank you, Dad for the memories. 

My Dad is a hard worker, even working two jobs at one point to make ends meet. As a kid you don’t know how hard it is to get up every day & go to a job, much less two! Thank you, Dad for being the kind of man who always did what needed doing to get the job done. 

My Dad knows how to say “I’m sorry”. I’ve watched my Dad over the years own his stuff & let us know when he was wrong. Even as recently as a few months ago, to hear him say he was sorry for all the ways he wasn’t what we needed him to be as kids–there is healing in those words. Thank you, Dad for being courageous enough to own the hard things. 

My Dad is an overcomer. I couldn’t appreciate as a kid the demons my Dad has wrestled with through out his life. My own journey of wandering so far from God & experiencing the power of His redemption in my life gave me a connection to my Dad that has always been special to me. Even though I haven’t been through all that he has gone through, I respect how hard he has fought to overcome addiction & choose to keep God at the center of his life every day. Thank you, Dad for fighting the good fight & letting God use your story. 

My Dad has always been a crier. I cry so easily at any situation, happy or sad. I must get that from Dad. Any time my Dad prays for us, whether it was just the five of us years ago or the group we’ve grown into recently, the depth of emotion that fills his voice makes me cry time every time. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it. I’m remembering phone conversations where we both ended up bawling our eyes out talking about the past. Or even all of the many tear-soaked airport goodbyes over the 10 years we lived away and the happy tears of joy when we finally came home again. Thank you, Dad for always being tender hearted & never being afraid to show your true emotions. 

More & more I am seeing that I am who I am not just because of the choices I have made but also from the choices of all those who have come before me. Some good & some not so good. 

Today I choose to focus on the good. I choose to be grateful for all the ways we’ve overcome what lies behind and look forward to all the blessings to come. I choose to say thank You to God for giving me a Dad who isn’t perfect but has impacted my life in so many ways by choosing to do the hard things, being courageous & allowing God to keep working in him. 

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you!

Stones from My Mother

To my Mom on Mother’s Day. Thank you for always praying, loving, believing and encouraging.

Standing on the shore.

Gazing out over the stream of my life.

Watching water wrinkle and roll in many different places.

Looking inside the ripple in front of me, I see a sword shaped stone.

Reaching down, I pick it up.

Noticing the unusual shape but now also seeing a word on the stone: Prayers.

Envisioning my Mom, bowed down before the throne of the Most High God.

Waging war on her knees, on my behalf.

Fighting an unseen battle for my salvation, my protection, my choices, my struggles, my life.

Dropping the stone back into the stream, the ripple rolls on.

Glancing into another wave.

Seeing a red, heart shaped stone.

Picking it up, I see these words: Legacy of Love.

Flashing before my eyes, a picture of my Mom, my Grandma, myself, my daughters.

Intertwining before me, an unbroken circle of love from generation to generation.

Letting this stone fall into the water, I look for another.

Catching my eye is a large, brown stone.

Having a wood-like pattern, shaped like a cross.

Feeling the weight of this stone, I read these words: Foundation of Faith.

Sensing a change beneath my feet, I look down to see the grass has turned to rock.

Hearing these words sung by my Mom:

“On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Tumbling heavily from my hand, the stone splashes back into the stream.

Moving further down, I see the water moving tumultuously.

Leaning over, I cautiously pull up a dark stone.

Appearing to be shaped like a storm cloud, with these words: Teenage Turmoil.

Turning the stone over in my hand, I find a rainbow on the back.

Playing in my memory are these words my Mom said to me many years ago and many times since:

“Love is a choice. Every day we choose to love. Even when it’s hard.

Especially when it’s hard.

God didn’t say it would be easy but He promised He would always be with us.”

Thinking back on how she chose to love me when I was most unlovable, I gently drop the stone.

Rippling the water rolls and waves before me.

Pondering the stones in my own stream.

Making me who I am today.

Shaping who I continue to become.

Looking up and around, I notice more streams than just my own.

Reaching into my pocket, I pull out a handful of stones.

Reading these words: Quality Time, Planting Seeds, Words of Life, Intentionally Invest, Hug More, Give Grace

Turning away from my own stream.

Walking towards the waters surrounding me.

Spotting my own daughters as they watch the ripples before them.

Pulling from my pocket, I softly drop stone after stone into the streams of their lives.

Out of Control

Fists clenched. Teeth gritted. Pride up. Guard down. 

Prayers left unanswered or answered with a NO. So I’ll go my own way. Do my own thing because I got this. 

Oh yeah, and God, can You bless me where I go today?

Heavy burdens. Weary mind. Tired of trying. Ready to fall. 

I’ve got to try harder. Can’t give up now. Keep doing my thing because my way will work.

God? Still waiting for Your blessing….

Something’s gotta give. This pit is too deep. This tunnel’s too dark. How did I get here and when will I get out?

GOD!! I asked You to bless me and this is Your answer? You’ve left me alone. Lost in the dark. I need You. Where are You? Are You there?

I AM where I have always been. Right here beside you. Patiently waiting for you to stop wandering. Cease struggling. Start trusting Me, not you. Lay down your need to control. The need for perfection. 

Where there is perfection, there is no need for My grace. 

Where every detail is orchestrated by you, there is no room for My Spirit to lead and move. 

Where you are trying to control everything, there is only legalism. 

No freedom. 

A false sense of security that will keep you lost at the bottom of the pit and stumbling in the darkest tunnel. 

Let My light shine brighter and My voice speak louder than all of the flashy, noisy distractions that you’ve allowed to lead you away.

Cast your cares at My feet. I care enough for you to want to ease your burden.

Put your worries in My hands. I am able to carry the load that was never yours to bear.

Stop your constant striving. 

Breathe. 

Rest. 

Heal. 

Live. 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

Waiting for Spring

Standing steady
Unmoving and
Unwavering
Appearing as dead
As a lifeless, leafless tree in winter
Barren branches reaching out for
Warmth of the sunshine
Touching forlorn branch tips
Deep down into the roots
Receiving strength for the day
Anticipating new life to come
Still standing steady and
Waiting for Spring

A New Thing…A New Name

I was reading Genesis 17 last week – God making a covenant with Abram changing his name to Abraham and God changing Sarai’s name to Sarah promising her a child. Immediately I thought of Saul becoming Paul and then the question, “Why does God give new names?”

As I pondered that question, I started thinking through the similarities between these 3 instances. In all 3 situations, God is doing a new thing. He is marking an inner transformation with a tangible, lasting reminder of the old passing away and the new being brought to life. 

God has done & is doing a new thing in us. Just as God made a covenant with Abraham, a promise to Sarah and a transformation in Paul. How has God marked His covenant with us? What name have we been given?

Wounded has been named Healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Forsaken has been named Treasured. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Lost has been named Found. (Luke 15:6-7)

Blind has been named Sight. (Psalm 146:8)

Unwanted has been named Child of God. (Galatians 3:26-27)

Depressed has been named Joy. (James 1:2-3)

Unloved has been named Chosen. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Captive has been named Freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19