Archive | November 2013

Seeds of Thankfulness ~ Week 2

Music has always been a part of my life. At the age of four or five, I learned how to play the piano and continued lessons all the way until I graduated from high school. My childhood piano sits in my home today and on occasion I will sit down and play a tune. I tried to teach Rodger how to play once. Oliver has been inquiring about learning to play, so I think I will give that a try soon. In the 5th grade, I learned how to play the flute. Again, I took private lessons and played until the end of my sophomore year of college. Marching band was much preferred by me over concert band. I was never quite good enough to be chosen for symphonic band in high school or college and that’s okay. I played for the enjoyment of it, not the competition. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I sang in the youth choir at church and also played hand bells for a few years. Music was definitely my choice of activity over sports.

One area that I never excelled in was voice. I cannot carry a tune and never have. But it is one thing I wish I could do. I love listening to music and going to concerts, but you’ll never hear me sing along. I don’t even like singing nursery rhymes or songs to my children. It’s embarrassing to me and even though I know my boys don’t care, it makes me feel uncomfortable.

My boys however, love to sing out loud. They sing along to the radio, make up their own songs and often repeat the songs they learn at church and school. I love this about them and I hope they continue to sing out loud!

The radio in our kitchen is on pretty much all day. If it’s not already on when I get up in the morning I turn it on and often it does not get turned off until we go to bed at night. I leave it on when I run errands during the day so the dogs have something to listen to. We eat our meals with music in the background. We turn it up when we hear a song we love and change the station when it’s a song we don’t want to hear. We listen exclusively to Christian radio and we love it. K-Love is our station of choice, but we switch between two others on occasion. My boys know nothing else, except for the occasional Disney song, Veggie Tales or other children’s C.D. and that’s okay with me. I know it won’t stay this way, for as they grow older and are exposed to more and more of the outside world, they will be exposed to other flavors of music, some more acceptable in our home than others.

Every year, K-Love does a Thirty Day Challenge where they challenge people to listen exclusively to Christian music for 30 days. At the end of the challenge, people call in and tell stories of how their lives have positively changed since they started listening to Christian music. Some of the stories you hear are life changing … families reuniting, couples reconciling, illnesses cured, drug/alcohol addiction overcome. I’m not saying that by listening to Christian music you will be free of all that ails you. I still suffer in my pain and grief. What I am saying is that it brings HOPE. It brings joy, love and hope to your life. If I go a day without listening to Christian music, I feel different. I feel discouraged. Hearing the promise of God’s love through beautiful voices and instruments lifts my spirits, brings me joy and challenges me to be a better person.

I challenge you to spend 30 days listening for God’s love through music. If you don’t know where to start, ask me, I will help you.

I am thankful for the joy, love and hope that I hear daily through music inspired by God.

I leave you with the song, “The Hurt and The Healer,” by Mercy Me. This song was played at Kyleigh’s Celebration of Life and is so very important to me and my walk with God.

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Seeds of Thankfulness

I can tell that Oliver is starting to learn about Thanksgiving at school. He came home talking about being thankful and how many colors were on the corn that he saw at school. As we talked about what Thanksgiving means, I reminded him that it’s good to be thankful all the time, not just at Thanksgiving. He agreed.

So, I am taking my own words and putting them into action. I have created a new page, Seeds of Thankfulness, that will focus on the ways in which our family is thankful. I am using the scripture from Colossians 2:7 as my inspiration …

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Every Thursday, we will post a new Seeds of Thanksgiving. Here is today’s:

Seeds of Thankfulness – Week 1 ~ November 14, 2013

Kyleigh's Gift sleep sack

Kyleigh’s Gift sleep sack

The past few weeks have been stressful around our house. Rodger has been out of town for 12 out of the last 18 days. I acquire a whole new perspective (and a lot of respect) for single moms when he is gone. Whether it was him leaving right after we got back from our own weekend getaway, or the hustle and bustle of Halloween, I’m not sure, but I struggled more with this trip then I have in a while. It’s mentally and physically exhausting to be the one doing everything. To read a little bit about his trip, click here.

Throughout the time that Rodger was gone, I experienced a handful of unexpected blessings. All of them were related to Kyleigh, which always makes me stop and thank God, for it is these unexpected blessings that show me that Kyleigh is not forgotten. Two of these blessings came by email this week. I was contacted by two separate women who had read about Kyleigh. One is a bereaved mother herself, looking for someone to connect with in the loss of her baby boy. The other is a nursing student, looking to use Kyleigh’s story and our positive experiences with our nurses in a presentation that she is doing for class. I have communicated with both of these women over the past few weeks and have found healing for myself as I shared details of Kyleigh that I hold so close to my heart.

The other big blessing this week was receiving the above photo. The sleep sacks are one step closer to being ready to give to newborns at Liberty Hospital! The Foundation received this sample and sent us a picture for our approval. We love it! The next step is to submit the first order and hopefully have them ready to hand out in January. We also received word that the LH Foundation is introducing the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund to all hospital employees through their Employee Giving Tree Campaign. This will give employees the opportunity to make a financial contribution to the hospital community, which includes Kyleigh’s fund. A lot of great things are starting to happen with the Kyleigh’s Gift Fund.

I am thankful for God’s unexpected blessings during the stressful times of everyday life.

Motivation

I work in the safety business. I’m a Software Manager for a large corporation that builds applications which use a bunch of math to inform companies that harvest natural resources of when they may be operating their materials at unsafe conditions when pressurized. That’s a lot of words, but it basically means that when you put something under pressure, there’s an increased opportunity for failure. As history has shown, the consequences of which can be disastrous. I’ve thought a lot recently about why I do the things that I do. I’ve never been particularly great at math and in fact, I’ve been known to discuss my disdain for the subject. But as much as I may try to avoid solving an equation, I also recognize that when we use math and actually apply what the results are telling us, we can change an otherwise hazardous situation into something much more responsible, much more respectable, and more importantly, much more safe.

I have logged more than 75,000 air-miles this year and been to places from the UK to Canada to Qatar to California. I’ve spent more time on the road in hotel rooms this year than any time in my professional career and I hate that. I found myself with a day off today and I stumbled across something beautiful.

UK headstone

It’s difficult to make out the inscription from the image, but this is the marker for a child that passed away on February 26th, 1856 at 17 months. For 157 years this marker has stood on the top of an ancient fortress outside the ruins of a crumbling monastery. For a guy from the Mid-West, this is not something that you come across every day, but my thoughts instantly went to my girl, and the hurt this child’s parents must have felt in the days preceding and following their precious baby’s death. I wish today that I didn’t know how they felt yet at the same time, I often times wish that I was the only one who knew this pain. I know of fathers today that have lost children and the last thing they want to do is talk about it. Not because they’re ashamed or hiding from their grief, but because they don’t want to believe that other people could know how they feel. As if that would somehow lessen their own grief or force them to pick up and move on just because other people have managed to do so. It takes time and more importantly, it takes the decision to live with your grief, not away from it and certainly not immersed in it. I still remember making that choice. I felt like I was on the cusp of something. Something was brewing, but it wasn’t what I expected.

Since graduating from Calvary, I always thought the next step was seminary. That’s the logical progression and the one that perhaps most people expected who know me personally. True, I have a mind for theology and I’ve not found a subject that intrigues my mind more than this one. I wish I could find a way to teach the Scriptures all the time. But interestingly, right now isn’t the time for that. I don’t know why that is, but I’m ok with it. I’m sure that day will come but right now, the focus is different.

I’ve always had a gift to see systems holistically. I call this a gift intentionally. I certainly did not learn this in college and I think the Scriptures are clear that all we have and all we are, are simply gifts from the Father above (James 1:17, 1 Corinthians 12). I used to enjoy technology for the sake of it. I had the latest widget, I used the latest code and I applied the latest trends to the systems that I designed and built. Technology was the thing that I coveted and my pursuit was relentless. One day that changed for me. One day it was less about the technology and more about the problem. What problem was there that I could solve? How could I apply the things that I had learned to build something great? Then life changed and the focus shifted. Today the question now looks like this, “how can I apply the things that I have learned, the gifts that I possess, that patterns that I understand to make systems safe? How can I be used by God to build something so economically feasible that it forces companies to use safe practices to prevent tragedy? To prevent some other parent from feeling what I feel first hand?” Now that is something worthy, honorable and right (Philippians 4:8) and it’s what motivates me to sacrifice when I would much rather be someplace else.

I met a friend for lunch several months after Kyleigh’s birth and our discussion was puzzling. I had already made the choice to commit to whatever “cause” God was calling me to, and I was genuinely excited about having done so. I had been exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, promoted, happy and sad about the direction life was moving, but I was choosing to embrace it. Because of this, he observed that my disposition was different. So different in fact, that he doubted if I was living in reality or if I was avoiding my problems altogether. I’m grateful that he said something about it during our lunch, but it bothered me for several days. Clearly I still think about that conversation that we had but instead of being puzzled by it, I’m forced again to the Scriptures where new truths are revealed.

2 Samuel 12 contains the story of the David and the loss of his son because of the sins that he and Bathsheba committed against God and Uriah. The Scriptures are clear; the loss of their child was a consequence for what they had done. I don’t believe that’s always the case for every couple, but death is the consequence of sin, which has a rippling effect throughout history. When David learned of the death of his child, he chose to get up and go worship God. Three days after Kyleigh died I could think of no other place to be than at the sunrise service on Easter morning with Oliver on the grounds where our church will soon be constructing a new worship and children’s center. I’m excited to be a part of it, even if only peripherally until God calls me to do something else.

There’s no doubt that death today is occasionally the result of someone missing something painfully obvious. We call this negligence. That’s a nasty word in the court of law, but I’m in a position today where the math, systems and industrial best-practices can save lives. This is why I’m passionate about what I do. My job is not the first thing in my life. God is, with my family a close second. I know one day this will change abruptly and I will move on. I have no idea when that might be but I’m prepared to jump at a moment’s notice.

As I finished touring the grounds at the monastery, I turned west and looked over the castle walls into the moat that use to protect the structure. It was formidable. I looked south and saw the beaches and break walls that shield the river form the North Sea. I turned east and saw the expanse of the ocean and felt the cold winds blowing. I turned north and saw this:

UK rainbow

I feel like David, “I will go to her, but she will not return to me.”
~Rodg

This entry was posted on November 9, 2013. 1 Comment