A Father’s Love

My brother-in-law is a Chaplain with the U.S. Navy, currently assigned to the Coast Guard.  He has been deployed to Haiti to help with the relief efforts there.  What follows is a glimpse of what is happening there from his eyes; A view that most likely will never be told in the media.  This is directly from one of his emails to my sister:

…It may seem small in comparison but our little clinic has evacuated over 200 people.  I can’t tell you the number of lives that have probably been saved because of the efforts of our folks here.  Our Coast Guard helicopters pack in as many people as they can, sometimes seven or eight or more people.  What they can’t fit in a seat or on a stretcher, they put in their laps.

These people are so resilient.  For years they have been subjected to whatever comes their way, either man made or nature related and they survive.  I watched little children with sever wounds be worked on with no pain medicine or anesthesia and not even whimper.  One lady with a severe head trauma, along with multiple other wounds, have her scalp opened up and cleaned of gang green, she never flinched, and then when it was all done she got up and walked out of the clinic!  They are grateful for Tylenol…something we take everyday.  It is absolutely amazing.

They are so open to prayer and a kind smile or a look of compassion.  While most of our people wore a mask I couldn’t bring myself to wear one most of the time because I wanted them to see my face and know that I hurt with them and cared about them.  One boy about 8 or 9 came in with a bad head wound; when they were done working on him they asked who brought him in.  He said no one…his parents were killed when his house collapsed.  He sat on the steps for two days, I don’t know what happened to him after that. I can only pray a relative found him and took him in. An 85 year old woman was carried in over the shoulders of a 15 year old kid.  When we asked what happened he said the nursing home she was in collapsed…she was the only survivor.  He just found her and brought her in.  I didn’t think she was going to make it.  As I prayer over her I asked God that if he were to take her to do it quickly, but if not to begin restoring her health.  Three days later we were able to medivac her.  Part of me couldn’t believe she lived the other part just stood in amazement at God’s faithfulness.

One more I will tell you about.  A beautiful young woman in her early 20’s was brought in with multiple injuries.  She had with her a handsome well built man who looked to be slightly older then her.  After she was treated I watched for three days how this man sat with her, laid her head in his lap, helped her move around, find her food.  His gentle care for her was incredible to watch.  I eventually made it over to them and offered to pray for her…they were excited about this idea.  I assumed this was his wife so I asked him if I could pray for his wife and he said “no, no, this is my daughter.”  I was moved to tears at that point as I made the connection.  The love of a father has no limits, not age, not injury, not circumstances…

I am brought to tears thinking that just as this father stayed with his daughter, consoling, holding, helping, caring, moving and caring for her, how much more does our Heavenly Father do this for us and we take it for granted?  Take a moment.  Think about it.


My Brother Only Wishes

Growing up in the 80’s, break dancing was “cool”, especially if you were wearing parachute pants while attempting to spin, break, pop, or whatever.  My bro used to take his boom box, prop it on his shoulder and head out to the front yard to make an attempt at displaying his “skills”.  I’m POSITIVE he was never able to do this:

Thanks bro for the memories of you breaking it down in the front yard on Harmony Drive!  You only wish you could dance like this…

Get a clue!

clue1So today was one of those lazy days watching football, kids playing, wife doing random things around the house.  Wouldn’t you know it, dinner time crept up on us and we weren’t ready for it.  I know, I know – dinner time happens every day at about the same time but for whatever reason we hadn’t thought about it (Clue #1).

April asked, “Where do you want to go for dinner?”

I replied, “I don’t know.”

April says, “Mom & Dad found this Italian place up the road, you want to try it?”

Me:  “uhh, not really up for that”

April:  “What about that new hotdog place?”

Me excitedly, “I guess so.”

You’ve all had those types of conversations – no one really can make a decision and at the same time, you’re being lazy, not wanting to cook but also not wanting to admit that you really don’t want to go out either (Clue #2).  April and I were both thinking that we shouldn’t go out but neither of us said it.  So what did we do?  Loaded up the kids and hit the hotdog joint only to find that it is closed on Sunday (Clue #3).  Now the conversation begins all over again, this time with the kids interjecting their thoughts.

Clue #4:  April wanted the Italian place. I mentioned the Taco Bell/KFC, Logan wanted another place and of course Kendyl wanted yet another place.  Great – did we get the message yet?  NO!!!  By this time it was getting late and we needed to be quick.  We settled on Taco Bell/KFC.

Clue #5:  We walk in and there are people waiting for their orders and they have unhappy faces.

Clue #6:  We can’t decide what we want.

Clue #7:  The girl taking our order can’t explain to April what comes on the different Nacho platters.

Clue #8:  Customer there before us asks “You don’t have any more Chicken?”  Employee says, “Nope, it’ll be 20 minutes until it’s ready.”

Clue #9:  Logan tries 3 times to fill her cup w/ water but each time fill’s it with Tea instead b/c she is pushing the cup against the lever on the drink fountain.  (Of course, it was me who insisted on letting this sweet little 5 year old do it herself. How else would she learn, right?)

Clue #10:  We wait 10 minutes for an order of Popcorn Chicken, Nacho Bell Grande, Baked Beans, & Mac & Cheese which cost us $10.45.

Clue #11:  They charged us $0.10 for lettuce on the Nachos and only put 3 shreds on it.  The single serving of Mac & Chesse was more like 2 teaspoons worth.

Clue #12:  When April took her Nachos back to complain the line for complaints was 2 deep AND when she got a new order of Nachos, they weren’t the right ones!

I could go further but you get the picture.  Why did we miss all of the clues along the way?  What was blocking our view of the obvious?  April and I both know we didn’t need to go out for dinner.  We both felt it inside.  It was like so clear – I really FELT that we shouldn’t go but I disobeyed!  April disobeyed!  We disobeyed God speaking to us.  Say what you want but I believe God was telling us not to go out to dinner.  We had a miserable time, left unhappy, and even left still hungry.

How many times does God speak to and you don’t listen?  I’m thinking of Exodus Chapter 4 where God is giving Moses signs for the people; you know, like when the staff turns into a serpant, Moses puts his hand inside his coat and it has turned leporous, he puts his hand back in the coat and the leporsy is gone and then if the people still don’t believe, Moses is to take water from the Nile and put it on the dry ground where the water will turn to blood.

I don’t know about you but if I saw those things happen, I would certainly believe I was hearing from God yet Moses was scared that the people would not.  I had at least 12 clues that I should have recognized but I didn’t until it was too late.

Lesson:  Get a Clue! They mean what they mean and I need to understand and follow through with action!

A Moment for His Glory

This one is a little long – I was thinking about quite a bit today…

Steven Curtis Chapman – An awesome Man of God.  Yep, that’s a picture of April and I with him.  We had the opportunity to meet him after a concert a few weeks ago here in New Port Richey.  Steven is the first Christian Musician that I was introduced to and liked.  His music has been a huge part of my life since 1992.  His music was integral in our marriage ceremony as well.  Our vows were the chorus’ from 3 of his songs that he wrote for his wife.  Our marriage has “grown up” around Steven and his music.

Today started out well enough – bagel and coffee at Panera while I was troubleshooting my boss’ laptop wireless connectivity.  While there April called and informed me that Steven’s youngest daughter, 5 year old Maria, was tragically killed in her driveway yesterday.  She was run over by one of her older brothers.  You can read more about it here:  http://www.StevenCurtisChapman.com.

Maria was the 3rd of 3 little girls from China that were adopted by Steven and his wife Mary Beth.  She, along with her adopted sister, Stevie Joy, are also responsible for the inspiration behind Steven’s current hit song “Cinderella”.  The lyrics follow:

She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I’m sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders

It’s been a long day
And there’s still work to do
She’s pulling at me
Saying “Dad, I need you

There’s a ball at the castle
And I’ve been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?”

So I danced with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I danced with Cinderella
I don’t wanna miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone…

She says he’s a nice guy and I’d be impressed
She wants to know if I approve of her dress
She says, “Dad, the prom is just one week away
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?”

So I danced with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I danced with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

She will be gone

Well, she came home today with a ring on her hand
Just glowing and telling us all they had planned
She says, “Dad, the wedding’s still six months away
But I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?”

So I danced with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
‘Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I danced with Cinderella
I don’t want to miss even one song
‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she’ll be gone

The short version of the story is this:  Steven was in a hurry to finish his latest album and was rushing Maria and Stevie Joy through bath time.  It seemed that everytime he turned around, they had disappeared and when he found them, they were dressed in princess gowns dancing around their room (Snow White, Cinderella, Little Mermaid, etc. – you get the picture).  Steven was too worried about what he had to accomplish that he found himself upset with his girls for not rushing right along with him.  As parents, we all know how that goes, right?

After getting the girls to bed and retreating to his studio, Steven felt convicted about what had just happened.  His girls would only be this little for right now.  He needed to enjoy THIS MOMENT because THIS MOMENT only lasts for THIS MOMENT and once THIS MOMENT is gone, THIS MOMENT can never be lived again.  Was the song prophetic when the lyrics said “‘Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight and she’ll be gone.”?

I found myself this morning thinking about my girls, my impatience with them at times, and thinking about all of the MOMENTS that I have missed because I had more important things to do.  What about you?  Do you miss those MOMENTS too?  In some ways I feel guilty because I didn’t take the time to make a memory, but I also know that through Steven’s tragedy, I have learned a valuable lesson.  I know that I’m not perfect and no one expects me to be, but being father is one of the most blessed opportunities that God could ever give anyone.  I need to take advantage of the MOMENTS God has placed in front of me and quit worrying about myself.

I’ll never understand why it takes a tragedy for us to learn valuable lessons like these.  I do understand that God has had this as a part of His plan since the beginning of time – to teach me a valuable lesson about fatherhood.  I also now that God will use this tragedy in Chapman family to bring Glory unto himself.

As I was talking to a friend today I realized that God can and will use this for His greater glory.  You see, Maria, Stevie Joy, and Shaohannah were all adopted by the Chapman family from China over the course of the last 5 years or so.  God will use Maria’s death as a way to bless the Chapman’s foundation (see http://www.ShaohannasHope.com) which supports adoption.  Many more orphaned children will now have the privilege of being adopted into a loving, caring, and providing family.

The Chapman family is asking that in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to Shaohannah’s Hope in memory of Maria.  Those funds will allow hundreds, or perhaps thousands of families adopt children who are in desperate need of a family.  China just had a major earthquake.  How many children have been left without parents to care for them?

Take a MOMENT and create a memory.  Take a MOMENT and Glorify Him!

Just be a Parent!

I was listening to the radio yesterday and the discussion centered on the 9 year old boys in Georgia who had plotted to kill their teacher.  This led me to begin thinking about being a parent and I came to the conclusion that no matter what we do in raising our children, we will be wrong.  What?  Did I say that?  Hear me out.

THE RIGHT WAY: As we go through life, any decent parent will discipline their children as they deem fit.  For example:  I could be shopping at the mall with Kendyl or Logan and let’s say they begin to misbehave.  I give them a little slap on the hand or on the behind in order to bring them back in line.  They react with an “OUCH”.  Jimmy Bob, who happens to be walking by, gets out his cell phone and calls the police because he says I was abusing my children.  I get in trouble for disciplining my child and society says I was wrong for doing so.

THE WRONG WAY: On the other hand, I am shopping in the mall with Kendyl or Logan and they are running around like wild girls, tearing clothing off of the racks, spilling their drinks all over the floor, and acting like selfish pigs.  They grow up to be girls who believe they can do what they want, when they want and that they do not have to respect authority.  As they grow in life, they become what society would deem a failure and they are that way because I, as their parent, didn’t raise them (discipline them) properly.  I guess I was wrong in this case as well.

So are we really “damned if we do and damned if we don’t”?  Not necessarily.  Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  AND Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”

These verses tell us that we need to train our children properly and they will not wander from their ways as they grow older.  We are also implored to impart wisdom upon our children through discipline.  These words of advice are from God, NOT MAN!  As long as we are in harmony with God’s plan, we have nothing to worry about; we are not wrong!  WE ARE BEING PARENTS!!!

So… Just be a parent.

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