Sunday, April 6, 2014

Noah.The Movie.

Sadness. That's what I've carried this week after leaving the movie, "Noah", before it ended. (There was more going on with me that just a bad movie, but that's for another post.)

The essential message of the Bible account was lost somewhere between the gigantic stone fallen angels and the evil king, Tubal-Cain, hacking his way into the ark to stow away.

The movie's message was: God wanted to destroy mankind because of its evil behavior and return the earth to the animals because of their purity and innocence. Noah tells his sons that each will in turn bury the elder folk until Japheth alone remains - until he, too, dies.

The Bible account is about three pages (not burdensome to read and study) - and while the moviemaker needed to fill in the gaps to make a two-hour movie, it's difficult to understand how it went so far off track. Had it been billed as a science fiction or action movie, I would not have these issues, but pretending that the movie is a historical account? Let's tell the story that God tells.

God wanted to destroy mankind because of its evil behavior. Genesis 6:6-7

God was sad about this and found a righteous person and his family to save. Genesis 6:8-10

God instructed Noah to build an ark, and brought Noah, his family (including his wife, sons and their wives), and the animals into it. Genesis 7:11-16

God makes the water recede and then blesses Noah and his sons, and places the earth under their authority. Genesis 9:1-2

God makes a covenant with Noah that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood. Genesis 9:12-17

That's good news. We can count this all joy.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

bees.be.



I walked to the patio and heard the low hum.

Bees.

Busily moving here and there in the tree overhead that shades my chaise. They moved incessantly, restless as the anxiety pulsing within me.

Regret.

I didn't carve out time for what I craved on this vacation. Time to think, write, rest. Did I truly crave it, then? Isn't it easier to be busy than to be?

"Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

the dream


I find that it's hard to get out of the shower. The warm water and its sound soothe me.

I expected to cry more, but I haven't. Other than Christmas Eve, which was hard; and a couple of weeks ago when I had a difficult day at work and the tears began a slow glide down my cheeks.

I expected to cry more, but you see, it was such a long good-bye. Five and a half years. Watching his world shrink from world travel to trips to dialysis. Seeing his body dwindle so that I stooped to hug him. Noticing the frailty of his shoulders as I hugged him.

It didn't come as a huge shock when Mom called at 5 a.m. one morning to say, "Honey, Dad's gone to heaven."

And there were so many, many things to do. There was a memorial service to plan and decisions about the music and the scriptures and eulogies to write and thank you notes afterwards and seeing the lawyer and figuring out how to make the insurance claim and suddenly weeks had gone by and I am just beginning to understand that he is really gone, that he has been gone for a long time because of the illness and what it took from him. But. He was there and there was the fact that I was always his daughter.

The first dream came last night, a dream of him and Mom and the elation that I felt when Mom said they had prescribed a new medication that would give him more energy. There was new light in his eyes and greater strength in his voice. They had come to hear me perform with an orchestra; I had come out to see them at the car, then went back inside to wait. And wait. And wait. Fifteen minutes until curtain and I heard the orchestra begin.

I went outside and saw Mom coming up the walk (pushing a bicycle?) and went to see where Dad was. She followed me to the sidewalk and we saw him fall at the edge of the curb. I was shouting and he got up. Confused, he staggered into the first lane of traffic. He fell again. Still shouting, I watched helplessly as he got up, reeling, and stepped into the next lane of traffic as a car turned left into that lane.

I woke up. It was unbearable to watch.

I woke up to the reality that he is gone.

The one who believed in me.

The one who cheered me on.

Gone.

Until we see each other again.

Wiedersehen, Daddy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

new.year.new.word.

Before morning coffee, I am typically bleary and incoherent.

That's why it was so unusual to have the following thought drop into my head, clear and fully-formed - as I woke on New Year's Day:

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him." (Romans 15:13a)

I've never been a New Year's fan. Maybe it's because we always went to visit friends on New Year's Day, where we had a buffet meal including ham (which I dislike) and watched football (which I don't understand).

In recent years, I've come to appreciate the day because I'm looking for a new word, a next word - from God. I have expectancy and anticipation - what will He do this year?

The clarity of the scripture verse stayed with me. What was the word God intended? Was it "filled"? Was it "overflow"? Neither rang true, and I could not share the word until God settled it for me.

This morning, I asked again - what is the word? Hope, I sensed in my spirit, confirmed with tears. Why tears?

For years, I struggled with depression, anxiety, pessimistic thoughts. If things were going well, I believed I had God's favor and love. If things didn't go well? Then God must be displeased with or disappointed in me. It was a flickering sort of faith, not fully founded on God's unchanging character.

The tears came from - well, hope. Hope that I will grow in knowledge and understanding of God's character. That I will have a confident expectation of the truth: God loves me and has a good plan for my life.

Wikipedia describes Christian hope this way:

"According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, hope is a "[t]rustful expectation, particularly with reference to the fulfillment of God's promises. Hope, is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God's guidance[;]... the confidence that what God has done for us in the past guarantees our participation in what God will do in the future."

Romans 15:13 in its entirety is this:

"May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope."

Amen.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

the ache.the filling



I carried it with me today.

It's an ache... absence... exhaustion. I think maybe no one notices.

And what I carry makes me think that maybe -  just maybe - there are others like me who are missing someone they loved, someone who loved them.

The world didn't stop to acknowledge death, any more than the world stopped to celebrate birth. A time to be born, a time to die.

Don't get me wrong. I am grateful that he did not have one more hospital visit or a difficult choice (hospice)?  I'm thankful that he is with those he loved and those who loved him, and that he's gone ahead to heaven. It's just a little while in eternal terms before I'll see him again. But I miss him. My daddy. My dad.

So when this person is cranky with me or this person seems not to be listening, maybe I'll pause to wonder if that person is missing someone, too.

The beautiful gift in my sadness is this - perhaps my word for 2014 is filled. Perhaps the God of hope will fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him.

Perhaps the fruit of trust is being filled.

Filled.

With God Himself.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

'bye.for.now.


(the eulogy I delivered 12-21-2013)

I am thankful. It has been my joy and honor to help my dad write the last chapter of his life. After all - he helped wrote so many, many chapters in my story. I'm not going to lie - it was hard and sad and beautiful and heartbreaking. 

I am thankful. Out of all the possible people God could have chosen to be my dad, He chose Chuck Zimmerman. God chose him to be the daddy who taught me to ride a bike, loved to jump out and yell "boo!" when it was time for him to put me to bed, and watched The Wonderful World of Disney with me on Sunday evenings while we ate popcorn. 

I had a recurring dream as a child - that I was upstairs in bed and someone bad was there. In the dream, as in life, I knew if I could just get to my daddy I would be safe. 

When I was sad or upset, Dad always tried to get me to laugh. I remember getting mad and saying, "It's NOT funny!" but I could never resist, and laughter always won. 

Dad was there for me. Ballet recitals, piano recitals, school choir concerts. I remember a track meet at Houseman Field - I looked up and surprise! He was in the stands. He never missed a graduation - even though it meant traveling to Norway because I spent my senior year as an exchange student. High school, college, graduate school - he was there. Several years ago, he was at mile 10 when I ran the Riverbank Run. This summer, he used some of his precious remaining strength to come and hear me give the message at my church in Kalamazoo.

I treasure the lunches Dad and I had as adults - he was a sounding board and wise counselor. And and then there was the trip to Chicago when I had to get my passport for a business trip. Didn't matter that I had successfully driven to Chicago by myself on a number of occasions - he insisted that he would go with me. I drove - Dad rode shotgun and told me about his childhood. Those are the moments that some might say are co-incidence, but I would call God incidents. 

Dad walked me down the aisle when I married Bruce. I remember leaning over and whispering, I'd better stop crying or people will think I'm not happy. The tears were happy tears - thankful for Dad's strong arm linked with mine, thankful that he was "giving me away" - but I have to say Dad didn't really get rid of me!

Call it chip off the old block or kindred spirits, my dad was the person who knew and understood me like no one else. (He jokingly offered my husband a retention bonus for our 10th anniversary). The courage of convictions - humor - love of family - not to mention black olives and Brussels sprouts - live on in this female body. 

I will miss the sound of his voice leading grace, Bless the Lord... I won't pick up the phone to hear him announce - "This is your fah-ther..." His tenor won't provide the harmony in the parental birthday serenade. Bruce and I carry on the tradition - we tried to top it this year with an original composition, Happy Birthday" sung to the tune of Stars and Stripes Forever, with Bruce doing the piccolo part. 

My dad leaves big shoes to fill. You all can read the list of his accomplishments in the obituary. But his biggest accomplishment is us - our family. The love of his life, my mom. My always younger brother, Bill. His beloved grandchildren, Noah and Ethan. The in-laws, Debbie and Bruce - he loved them as his own. 

My dad didn't preach often with words. He preached with actions. The book of James, Ch 2 describes how Dad lived -
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can his faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, Go in peace, keep warm and eat well, but you don't give them what the body needs, what good is it?
17 In the same way, faith, if it doesn't have works, is dead by itself.
18 But someone will say, You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.

We didn't really talk about faith a lot. I saw it in his actions in the way he loved us and cared for people and served in so many organizations. But the first time I realized the incredible depth of his faith was at Christmas. With tears in his eyes and voice, he quoted this verse from O Little Town of Bethlehem- 
O Holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today. 
My dad carried a strong conviction of the sin we struggle with as human beings - and yet he held a deep gratitude for God's grace and forgiveness. He believed that Christ died for him - and that he would spend eternity in heaven because of it. I know that I will see him again in heaven - because I believe Christ died for me and has forgiven my sins. 

I doubt it's possible for me to leave bigger shoes than Dad's to fill - but I'm going to try. And I'll leave you with this question - what size shoes do you want to leave?

one.word

2013 was a hard year, but oh, so worth it.

Trust. That was my one word. (Psalm 112) God even gave me art.


I said good-bye to a company I loved because God made it ever-so-clear that the work environment was killing me. The despotic, disrespectful, dysfunctional director was not moving. I was.


I said hello to a smaller, family-owned company where I am treated with kindness, respect and professionalism. They welcomed me with a Harry and David Tower of Treats - it arrived on my last day with my former employer. They didn't know - but God did.


I said good-bye to another beloved companion, Dylan. He was a true snuggler.


And hello to Henry, the birthday kitty. So small that his eyes were still blue. He has grown into a 15-pound Hun.



I said good-bye to my wild and wonderful, wacky (and weedy) garden.


I said hello to a re-structured garden - one that better displays its beauty. Blooming Groovy!


I said hello to this little guy, our first grandchild.




I said good-bye to this guy, the one I've never lived without.

 

Trust settled me in this truth - "Be still, my soul - in every change, He faithful will remain."

On this day, 01/01/14 - I look forward to a new word and a new year.

Clear words dropped into my mind (unconsciously) when I woke this morning. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him..." (Romans 15:13)

Will you join me in the one-word adventure for 2014?

One word.

Be inspired.

Happy New Year!