From my Dad’s mouth…

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Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippines 4:11

I did not grow up poor but I do remember some months where funds were “tight” and we had to watch our pennies. I especially remember meals of toast and soupy rice. That is rice cooked in milk with butter and sugar garnished by a side of toast. For the record, it was delicious.

My father was an optimist. He would look at our meal and he would say “I wonder what the poor people are eating tonight?” Dad would say this in times of plenty and times of want. He knew that we would have days of blessings and days not so blessed.

Today, I sit here and feel sorry for myself over life events. It’s easy to do. The days where you just want to throw in the towel and give up.

But, my father’s words reminded me that I am blessed beyond measure and should have a heart filled with gratitude.

I don’t think these words came to me by accident, I believe “someone” wants me to remember his sage advice. I ask God to forgive me for wanting more.

I know He hears me.

I know my Dad is smiling.

You are Special!

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My Dad gave me lots of advice. I was wise enough to listen.

Dad had every reason to be pessimistic about the world. He was shot down over Germany during WWII while piloting a B-17, interred in a POW camp and lost his hearing. His career as a pilot was finished due to war injuries, and he was born with the name Shirley. Yes, I said his name was Shirley. It would be easy to fall into the muck and wallow in self-pity but that was not his style.

My Dad was a die-hard optimist. Life was good and every day was special.

When I started my business, one of the best things Dad told me was “always remember to make people feel special.” Dad grew up with a desire to help and to enrich the lives of others. He succeeded.

Everyone wants to feel special. Everyone wants to tell you his or her story. You just need to listen.

This is not so surprising. What IS surprising is that more people don’t realize this. When you care about people, and show a genuine interest in their welfare, your life is all the better.

Try this with clients, friends and, most of all, family. Make today the start of a change in your lifestyle. Make someone’s day.

Make someone feel special.

Leave everyone you meet feeling valued. Ask about their day; ask about their lives; just ask and then listen.

Expect little and give much…you will be amazed. The gift of giving someone a sense of self worth is beyond measure. Now that’s special.

Tough Memories of Heroes – Lent 9

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My Dad was a Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany. It was an important part of his legacy.

As the pilot of a B-17, he was shot down over Stuttgart and parachuted into a lake where he treaded water until the German military arrived. Any soldier who swam to shore would be beaten or killed by waiting citizens. This was the reality of war.

My Dad did not start talking about his war experience until late in life. I think his sons, grandsons (one of whom is a Naval Commander) and friends wanted to know his story. It was dramatic and cringe-worthy and was difficult for me to comprehend. War is just so horrible.

This was a big part of my Dad’s life; a life lived well with significant highs and lows. The war was a low point for a man who was never defeated in spirit.

However, I really didn’t want to hear about it. I didn’t like to hear about my Father in danger.

I am proud of my Father’s heroism and his military skills of survival. But, I liked the Dad that I knew personally. You see, my Father was one of the most fun-loving and joy-filled people that I ever knew. He had a wicked grin and a lovely sense of humor. He delighted in pranking his children and pulled some funny, funny tricks over his 91 years on this earth. There are so many stories that I can’t begin to share them all. Suffice it to say, there was rarely a dull moment around my home. He was the life of the party and the person we all wanted to be around. He was a magnet for people and they clung to him in love and laughter.

Dad had seen the worst in people including some horrid atrocities that come with being a soldier in combat. He had seen death in so many ways and did not relive those moments often.

Lent is like that for me. I have to force myself to walk through the awful process to get to the resurrection on Easter Sunday. I don’t want to consider the beaten, spit upon, abused, and mocked Jesus. That’s too hard. I don’t want to think of the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus. It is simply too painful to ponder. But sometimes, we have to remember in order to understand and appreciate the never-ending gift given to us through the shed blood of Christ. Sometimes we have to go through the worst to get to the best.

My Dad’s laugh resonates in my heart. My Lord’s sacrifice blesses my soul. The grace of Jesus Christ keeps me safe.

I am grateful. Eternally so…

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:32-33

Veterans Day – Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor

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“I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” John 13:34

Veteran’s Day 2014

My father didn’t start talking about his war experiences until late in his life. I think he didn’t want to burden us with difficult memories but eventually opened up and I’m so glad he did. What a testimony to his family of a life well lived.

My Dad was a POW in Nazi Germany for many years after his B-17 was shot down during a military raid. While I think this experience had a profound effect on him, I don’t think it changed him at the core.

My father loved people. My father loved his family. My father really loved Jesus.

Dad led by example and he told the story of walking through deep snow with the frail and aged Nazi guards who were too weak to carry their own weapons. So Dad and the other soldiers carried their guns. They were not required to do so, they did it to help.

I have always found this story to be one of the most striking of my father’s war memories. Dad’s faith in Jesus never wavered and even in the worst of circumstances, he would use an opportunity to share the love of Christ with ANYONE.

On this Veterans Day, I thank Dad for his courage. I thank Dad for his loving heart. I thank Dad for teaching me about Jesus. Dad said that he survived the war through his belief that Jesus was standing beside him and giving him the strength to return home. I believe this and I am grateful to God.

I am sure my Dad is not the first soldier to have Jesus hold his hand and he won’t be the last. I wish this were not so. If we could only truly love our neighbors…

Peace.

Falling Back…

home-top-photo-st-marg-church_22I love fall. Just as I watch the sky darken, the leaves change into a variety of majestic colors and the earth prepare for frost, fall signals a time of reflection for the past year and an awareness of the coming Advent season.

In short, fall is my favorite time of the year.

Each Fall I travel to the Blue Ridge and I return to the beautiful mountaintop church where my daughter was married. It was the last time my entire family was together before losing my Mom to cancer. I take a moment to go inside and sit on the very pew I shared with my parents and thank God for loving memories. My favorite is when Dad held my hand as my daughter walked down the aisle to meet her groom. Dad gave me a gentle squeeze as he asked me if I was OK. It was a loving gesture and so typical of my Father.

When I sit in that pew, I can still feel his presence although Dad has since joined Mom and gone home to glory. It’s a great memory of a happy time. If my earthly father was so amazing, how much more wonderful will it be to meet my heavenly Father?

As the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to glide down to the ground, I am reminded of my continual growth and change as I work toward a more mature faith. There is so much sin to release and so much good to reflect upon. God’s grace is sufficient and He guides me like a falling leaf and catches me safely in His arms.

For another season, I soar in His love and I look forward for what is yet to come.

A place of peace…

 

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Years ago when I was expecting my first child, the lamaze instructor was adamant that I find a place in my memory that was peaceful. It was to be somewhere that my mind could wander and calm my soul. It took me about a minute to pinpoint my sweet spot of undiluted happiness.

I was lucky enough to grow up with amazing parents. Not perfect, but wonderfully made and so loving to me. 

Our Miami home was located on a beautiful spring-fed lake with gentle winds that cooled our home. The back yard was impressive with a seawall overlooking the lake and shaded by a huge oak tree which served as the host for a large wooden swing.

This swing was my place of peace. Hours and hours spent with my Dad talking about everything and nothing. Quiet and solitude. His dreams for my future and my Dad’s memories of his past. It was absolutely heavenly.

While in a long labor, I kept my mind mentally on that swing. I was in a labor and delivery room but I could hear a soothing voice and a soft breeze. It made a difficult time more bearable.

To this day, I go there. I go back to my swing and I talk to my Dad. He’s not with me anymore but I know he waits and I am comforted. 

I know he waits for me with Jesus. 

Peace fills my heart and I am calm.

This is my Father’s World

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My Dad couldn’t hear. As a POW during WWII in Nazi Germany, he developed an untreated ear infection which hindered his ability to hear. He always wore a “headband” style hearing aid and my friends thought he looked distinguished. I thought he was handsome.

Dad and I enjoyed attending football games together and he was always attentive as I talked incessantly. One day, I looked over before the game started to see him turn off his hearing aid. It was a subtle gesture but I realized he was pretending to listen to me while enjoying the game. I wasn’t mad – I thought it was genius.

In fact, I continued to talk to Dad throughout the game and for the rest of his earthly days. Dad was my favorite talking partner. We could solve the problems of the world on a lazy afternoon in our rocking chairs over a glass of sweet tea.

Dad gets to chat with Jesus now. His hearing is restored and everything is new again. I talk to Jesus all the time and ask him to watch over Dad and Mom.

I know Jesus hears everything. What a wonderful Savior. What a wonderful Father.

This is my Father’s world,

and to my listening ears

all nature sings, and round me rings

the music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

his hand the wonders wrought.

 

This is my Father’s world,

the birds their carols raise,

the morning light, the lily white,

declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:

he shines in all that’s fair;

in the rustling grass I hear him pass;

he speaks to me everywhere.

 

This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

that though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

I love to tell the story…memories of Dad

ImageToday is the 4th anniversary of my Dad passing from this life into the next. I never met anyone like Dad. He was wholly committed to Jesus and he told anyone he met about the Lord.

One of my favorite stories is when my parents and I were at a local mall and Mom and I went into a store leaving Dad outside. Suddenly, I looked out to see Dad chatting with an elderly gentlemen. I nudged my Mom and told her Dad was winning someone for Christ. When we were done shopping, I walked out to say hello to the sweet man and told him that my Dad was a committed Christian.

Surprisingly, the man told me that he was so impressed that Dad would just walk up to him and share the gospel. No one had ever done that to him.

What made it all the more impressive is that my Dad was unknowingly witnessing to the Senior Pastor of a large Baptist church.

Dad was “saving” a Baptist preacher. Dad wasn’t embarrassed because he was not ashamed to share the love of Christ with anyone he met. Dad told the Pastor he was glad to know he didn’t have to worry about him. It cracked me up.

I hope if someone ever shares Jesus with you that you will let them tell their story and witness to you. You may know more than they do and you may be a lifelong Christian but to the person with a true, deep and loving relationship with the Lord – their words mean something and they want to be sure you are saved.

Dad brought more people to Christ than anyone I know. I’m so very proud of him. I miss him greatly.

In loving memory: S.A. Parvin –  1919 – 2010

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.