Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Living a legacy (Thoughts of Daddy)

Today (Wednesday) is the second anniversary of my Dad's death, and this daughter of the psalmist's son (Charles Davidson, get it?) is really feeling emotions this year.

I told Mom it seems like it's been three years. When I did the math, I realized why. The first year without him with us physically on earth seemed like two years. What seemed like the first year was getting through the first Sunday, and then Thanksgiving and Christmas and to the end of 2011 without him. So, when the actual anniversary of his homegoing came in 2012, it seemed like two years. And now it seems like three.

I am more aware of missing him than I have been in a while. I think that's because of things that have been going on that I know he would have been interested in -- and I long to hear his supportive and often surprisingly original response. The European cruise, the Barcelona adventure, my (official) 30 years of service at work and now this upcoming alumni basketball game, among so many other things -- what would his response be? Pride, for sure, but also some comment that only my Daddy would come up with.

Another reason, I'm sure, that I am more emotional and aware this year is just the reality that we all are getting older and closing in on the heavenly homecoming. None of us will be on this earth forever, nor should we want to be.

That's where the phrase "living a legacy" came in. If I live the legacy of my father and ancestors, I won't have to worry about leaving a legacy. God the Father and my cloud of witnesses in heaven and on earth provide loving support and guidance on the way to go.

I thank God for the love and the legacy of my dad. May I live it to the honor and glory of both of them.

(There's a whole other column to be written about my precious Mom during all of this, but that is for another moment.)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Finding my place

Muenster High School has an alumni basketball game coming up, and when I heard about it a month or so ago, I could not resist signing up. I don't know whether I really qualify -- I only suited up in junior high and as a freshman, and I probably only made it into one or two high school games. But I think I'm probably in a uniform with the team in the 1974 yearbook. So I offered my $20 registration fee, and they took it, so I guess I'm in!

When I heard about the event from a Facebook posting, I commented that I would sign up if they promised I wouldn't have to play. "My place was on the bench -- and before my freshman year was over, I realized even that was too close to the action for comfort!"

They assured me they would have a place reserved for me on the bench. But I've had second thoughts. I'd forgotten that even the ball handling during practice and warmups was traumatic for me. So, now I hope to just enjoy the fish dinner, get my T-shirt and take a seat in the stands, where I ended up being for games throughout high school, as I watched my sisters and brother and classmates play. (I wouldn't mind being in an alumni team picture, but if that requires ball handling or me to actually sit on the bench, they can probably count me out!)

While some have picked up a basketball to prepare for the game, my workout has been mental. Here's some of what I've come up with:

I call myself a bench warmer on the team. But upon more thought, I realize I'm not really even a good bench warmer. Shouldn't a bench warmer be like the scout team, maybe not good enough to play in the games, but a very worthy practice opponent. I am not and never was that. I am not comfortable handling the ball and have no clue what to do as a defender. I am more of an obstacle than a resource. Some people have no business in practice, in a uniform or on the team. And it wasn't a good use of my time. I wisely got off the bench and moved to the stands.

Although I didn't realize it until now, that may have been one of the defining moments in my life. I don't remember my thought process at the time, but ultimately, I realized that just because everyone else in my family was athletic and played basketball didn't mean I had to. I do recall it was hard to give it up. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't harder than it was to go to those games and live in fear that the coach would send me into the game and the ball would come my way!

Unfortunately, the way my mind and reflections go, I realize I'm still searching to find the team where I fit in, where I feel like I can contribute, carry my weight and maybe even make a difference. A couple of opportunities that came close were the Oklahoma City Gridiron Club (journalists doing a musical roast of politics) and then a praise team at our church. But after a few years of camaraderie with the journalist group, I fell out of favor, and it has never worked to get involved again. Meanwhile, after a short span, the contemporary worship service and praise team folded, and attempts to keep it going also fizzled.

Also unfortunately, I blame myself: Maybe the reason I can't find a place is because I am selfish and lazy and judgmental and perfectionist and undisciplined. Is there anything I am truly good at? Not in my eyes. From my perspective: Mediocre is me.

And yet: Jesus loves me, this I know. The Bible tells me so. God knows where and how I am. He created me. He goes before me and with me. I see again and again how He uses me, especially in supporting roles.

So, once more, I will suit up and show up, eager to see what God has planned for such a time as this.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gratitude and awe

Mistakes are such a distraction. That's what I found myself thinking after I botched some of the words on a solo I sang at church Sunday. I knew some of the words were tricky for me, but I had practiced, and it went so smoothly at the early service. Then, at the second service, I stumbled over the tricky spots. And I just don't really understand why. I suppose I might be more likely to get the words right if I kept my eyes on them, but that's not how I sing. I have to look at the people. And I guess the price of that, for me, is that sometimes I will mess up the words.

But the thing is: People are so gracious. Either they don't notice, or they totally excuse the mistakes. Am I the only one who notices or cares? So it seems. So why do I care? It's a weakness I have trouble overcoming.

Between the words of the song and the words of the sermon, though, I have the response to whatever it is I'm going through: Keep my gaze on Christ. Seek Him. Trust Him. Obey Him. Love Him. Praise Him. Rejoice in all things, because of God's great love through Him.

The song: You are beautiful beyond description; too marvelous for words; too wonderful for comprehension; like nothing ever seen or heard. Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of Your love? Your are beautiful beyone description: Majesty, enthroned above. And I stand in awe of You. Holy God, to Whom all praise is due, I stand in awe of You.

The sermon: Rejoice! Drawn from Philippians 4:4-9.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ... Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Rejoice in The Lord. Trust God. Even when I don't understand why I seem so inept.

Monday, October 14, 2013

In a new light (True colors?)

Most days, my graying hair and crinkling face don't bother me much.

Even when someone near and dear suggested in late August that I should consider coloring my hair, because the gray is showing, I confidently responded that I know I have gray, but I'm OK with it.

Since that time, however ... new light has been shed on the matter.

First was a picture taken at the end of September. Sure enough, my hair looked grayer than I'd ever seen it. Hmmmmmm. Is it time?

A couple of days later, the flourescent lighting in the bathroom began to flicker. When we changed out the tubes, the new ones were white rather than the warm, yellow-tinted hue. And the result in the mirror is Ms. Mousy Gray!

I truly have no idea what the real color is or how bad it looks.

And that's when I realized: Does it even matter?

I wouldn't say that I always like my hair (and overall appearance), but I'm generally quite OK with it. And I have little faith that spending more money or time on it would make me like it more. Maybe that's the point: To some degree I realize that, even though I want to feel good about my appearance, it's not the most important thing. And results seldom seem worth the cost or effort.

At the same time, for someone so unwilling to spend much time or money on my appearance, I do think (or worry -- or at least wonder) about it more than I think I should. I think it has more to do with insecurity than actual vanity. I don't even dream of being beautiful (well, OK, I can dream), but I do want to avoid looking bad. And that's where the awareness of graying hair, droopy eyelids and increasing evidence of aging come back in. Still, as in so many areas, for today, I can't see changing from the way I am.

Besides, aren't we always told that it's what's on the inside that counts? Ouch. Maybe that's why I get distracted by the outward appearance -- because I don't want to look within. Appearance is superficial, but what's inside is the heart of the matter. And I'm so aware of the flaws and imperfections there.

Meanwhile, a friend suggests that instead of focusing on what I see as imperfections and lack of symmetry and balance and uniform color, why not marvel at God's creative artistry?

I've been contemplating this subject for more than a week, and I still can't bring it to a conclusion. But I'm ready to move on.

Certainly this is not just about gray hair and wrinkles. It's about life.

The thing I am most aware of is that I spend too much time thinking about me and not enough caring about and doing with and for others. Fortunately, working on this is pushing me into faith and prayer -- and action.

Trust God. Serve God.

Lord, if you have a message to speak from this, please let me get out of the way and Your word shine through, to Your glory.

May I remember that what matters most is what's inside. If the heart and soul are cheerful and filled with love and gratitude toward God, the light of His spirit will shine.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 2ook at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:25-34)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

God help a fearful giver

How much is enough? What's it worth? Who decides value? Does it matter?

Variations of such questions were with me long before my all-expenses-paid cruise, but they have been with me even more since.

God has blessed me so lavishly through the years. How can I say thank You? How can I reflect His goodness? How can I show and share His love?

I want to make a difference. I'm tired of being selfish. My intentions are generous and compassionate. My reality is much less so.

I want to give more, serve more, help more, show love more, read more, sing more, write more, trust and obey God more ....

So, what is stopping me? What is holding me back. Fear, yes. But what is that fear? Part of it is fully me, my own sense of insecurity, doubt, and even uncertainty about what to do and where to begin. Part involves the wants, needs, values and priorities of others.

Two things in the past week have highlighted this vividly.

First is the ongoing pledge drive at K-Love, a listener-supported Christian radio station that I listen to almost every time I am in my car, which is at least an hour most days. I've listened for probably 20 years -- and I've never given a penny to support the ministry. I've thought about it many times, but I've always held back. It's never been a matter of whether I can afford to. It's always been matters of circumstances of my own little world. Among the things that have stopped me: Not liking how they conduct their pledge drive; and fear that they would do what everything I've ever donated to has done, which is send more and more requests for money. Another excuse involves feeling overwhelmed with the need -- and how much is enough: If I give to this ministry, shouldn't I also be giving to that one and that one and that one? How does one decide? Where does one stop? And, of course, in all of this, I am convicted by the testimonies that are shared on the station, of people with so much less than I have who give in faith. I did finally decide to give, but even then, I gave a one-time amount rather than a pledge. I'm not sure what that's about. I hope it opens the door to more giving. The station and its music help keep me focused on God and the good His people are doing every day. Of course I want to support that. Why is this so hard? But ... it still is.

While that was going on -- at the end of the first week of the pledge drive, before I gave anything -- I got an email from the American Cancer Society asking me to complete a survey about a fundraising campaign they are considering doing. They have my name because of my support of Relay for Life. In the course of completing the survey, I again was confronted with my confusion and insecurity and lack of generosity ...

How do people who donate significant gifts make those decisions? I actually have been praying about this for some time -- how to be a good steward of what God has given me and Gene. So far, I'm still not clear. My best hope is that when the time is right, God will make it clear.

"Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have." (2 Corinthians 8:11-12)

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

"This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ,and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" (2 Corinthians 9:12-15)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Catching up and moving on, again

I needed to post a few more words before this day ended, if no more than symbolically to say a new month has begun. The previous post may be stamped Oct. 1, but in my mind, it was supposed to be September.

So now I'm on to October. I hate that it has begun with so much turmoil in our nation's government. I have friends who feel strongly on both sides of the political spectrum involving this Obamacare, the budget and now the shutdown. And I know people who are being furloughed and others who still must work but don't know when they will be paid. I don't have a strong sense of who/which side is right and which is wrong or what kind of compromise is needed to come up with a solution. I've prayed some intercessory prayers. It doesn't seem like enough.

But I'm glad October is here. As has often been the case for me in September, it was a month filled with opportunities and emotions that take more than 30 days to comprehend. I was ready to turn the calendar page, and hopefully, prayerfully, get back to my life's more routine structure. Call me a creature of habit -- it's one of my catlike traits. My boring routine might seem like a negative, but the past month away from it reminds me of its purpose. It's OK to take a break -- a vacation -- but it's good to be back in my familiar place.

Even so, I have a sense that I may never catch up. But I will try. Starting today. With how I worked, ate, exercised, prayed and blogged. I fell short again on reaching out to others in service or compassion. That will be a goal for tomorrow. It is one of my most important goals daily goals -- and the one I seem to most often fall short of. This time, I will keep trying. God willing, I won't give up before the next miracle happens.

Grace period

In my rush to get ready for October (actually, more just looking ahead than getting ready), I forgot to take care of September.

I had on my Oct. 1 to-do list "blog," but when I woke up Oct. 1, I thought, "Oops! I forgot to blog on Sept. 30!"

Which meant I only had THREE POSTS for September, which highlighted missing my goal of posting at least one time every seven days. And it looked like this time there was no way around it. (I'd already missed the "post every seven days" goal while on my cruise, but rationalized I could at least balance out the month with four posts total.)

And then I remembered I might have started one that I hadn't posted, and if so, it might post with that time stamp, making four for September.

And then I thought: "Grace?"

And then I thought: "Or is that dishonest?"

And then: "Grace period."

"Grace. Period."

In a September so rich with opportunity and experience that I can only claim progress in making sense of, it was one more example of God's grace. Unmerited favor. An undeserved reprieve. In all things, great and small.

God's amazing grace. Period.

Grace. Amen.

I choose grace. Amen.

But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

As God's co-workers, we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. (2 Corinthians 6:1)