Articles for September 2012

My Dad’s Braver than Your Dad

A hug from my favorite preacher

My Dad is having heart surgery tomorrow. I was with him yesterday as he was visiting with the surgeon about the details. I heard my Dad tell the surgeon, “You need to know I am a coward.” Daddy then went on to ask the tough questions and to share some specific fears with the surgeon. The surgeon assured us as best he could that he would do everything in his power to make this difficult situation as bearable as possible. (He also told Dad that his experience has shown him that the guys who want the surgeon to know how “tough” they are and how high their pain threshold is are the worst patients after surgery.)

I’m so proud of my Dad. He doesn’t see himself as tough or macho. He hasn’t spent his life on the fast track to monetary achievement. Instead, he has lived a quiet life of real, everyday, ordinary courage where his family has always been his greatest joy and only priority.

Author Brene’ Brown defines courage as our “willingness to tell our own stories with our whole heart.” That describes my Dad perfectly. My favorite joyful moments involving Dad are listening to him tell stories. Whether from the pulpit or the recliner, my Dad uses his wordsmith gifts to transport himself and the listener to a place of hope, encouragement, peace, reverence or hilarity! Week in and week out, Dad stands in front of believers and seekers and reveals to them a God of grace and compassion and mercy – never for show or accolade or prestige. Rather, he shares his gift because that is who he is through and through. He can’t not tell his story.

He tells our story, too. Whether at a wedding, an anniversary celebration or a funeral, Dad’s willingness to connect to and serve and encourage others with those beautifully crafted words and phrases touches our souls and reminds us to be grateful for each other and life. He makes us all feel valued. Cherished. Loved. Appreciated. Important. He helps us believe we are worthy.

That’s courage. Plain and simple, yet extraordinary.

Love you, Dad!


The Surprise of Inspiration


My beautiful daughter-in-love, Melissa, is a great decorator and seamstress. She gifted me yesterday by giving my master bedroom a facelift. I LOVE it! I knew it would be beautiful. I knew I had been wanting something new. What I didn’t know is how much it would inspire me. and delight me. and simply make me feel joyful.

On my walk this morning I was thinking about the surprise of inspiration. For much of my life I thought life was about having answers. The right answers. And then making sure I let everyone in on what the right answers were. It’s the evangelist in me! And while there is nothing wrong with sharing answers, it’s vitally important to realize that the answers are only right for me, at this particular time, in this particular place. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are THE Complete, Unabridged Volume of Right Answers – for me or for you.

This leads me to today’s question. “What inspires you?” My answers are, “It depends,” and “I don’t know.” One of my favorite inspiration memories is being invited to a live performance of Les Miserables. The split second that the orchestra began playing, I began crying. Joyful tears. Grateful tears. Tears of shared inspiration. I dare say I was not the only one moved by the performance. By the energy. By the talents and gifts being shared and relished and treasured. What a lovely surprise and feeling of inspiration. If one had asked me previous to this experience about what inspires me, the list would have been incomplete. If I had turned down the opportunity because it was not on my inspiration or joy-enhancing radar, I would never have known that particular moment of delight. I had to open myself to the experience and the inspiration that followed.

There are many questions in life with which we struggle. What is my purpose? What should I be when I grow up? What  if? Why? Why not? Why me? Flats or heels? Now or later? As long as I am convinced that there is one right answer and if only I could find it my life would become complete, I’m likely to struggle. I might even suffer. At the very least I will miss out on the gift of being open to the surprises that come my way.

Imagine being invited to a grand and glorious butterfly release in which you are guaranteed that at least one of these gorgeous creatures will light on you and invite you to share in the wonder. But you decline because you’re not at all sure the exact right one will come your way.

Now instead, imagine being open to all the grandeur and glory that life has to offer. The inspiration you desire is desiring you. A wonderful new friend said it like this, “It’s right there in the grace where you live.” How’s that for surprising inspiration?

Peace, love and inspiration!