Sunday, October 26, 2014

Every Single Breath

I started this post Friday night...

I'm trying not to be sad. It's time for me to go home to be with my little family and to, as my mother keeps saying, "start living my life again."  It's hard. It's hard to leave my mom. I miss my husband and kids so much but well, it's just hard. I'm the prodigal child. I live several hours away. My siblings are here near mom and I know they will be here for her but I want to be too. Did I say this hard?

Waking up in the morning won't be easy. I feel on the verge of tears already. That hug goodbye will probably break me. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll be crying long before that!

Continuing on Sunday ...

Well, as soon as I got up, I started crying and I cried off and on all the way home. Worship this morning was hard too.  It was last week as well at my mother's church.

This morning was youth Sunday at our church.  They a great job.  It was a youthful service, filled with contemporary music.  Several songs gave me goose bumps. I associate church with my Daddy and well, just all my family so it was difficult but at one point the words to a song said, "Though I'm weak and poor all I have is yours every single breath." It struck me. I've struggled with coming home. I've struggled with that "living again."  I think I know how hard it will be for my mom and so the thought just kills me when I think of it.  It doesnt seem fair for me to just continue on when I know how hard it is for her.

Friday, I was contacted by a preacher nearby who is also in the guard or reserves (can't remember which) asking if I could fill in for his next drill in November and then be his permanent fill in on his drill Sundays. First, I was excited but then I quickly worried because I need/want to be available for my mom always.  I told him I'd let him know next week.  I didn't tell my mom about this part of the conversation right away because I knew she would say I needed to get on with my life, to continue living and I didn't want to hear it. But this morning when I sang the words, "all I have is yours, every single breath," I was struck. It was as if He was speaking to me, reminding me.  Reminding me to live and to live for Him.

I started this lay servant journey not wanting to preach but to just serve more and then continued on through certification to Lay Speaker because I discovered I love preaching too and this song just put it right there in my face. Every breath, every word it all belongs to Him and if I'm afraid to say yes, afraid to get started again, then I'm not giving Him my all.

I like to think that my daddy was proud of me for following this path, that he was proud of the sermons I've written so far.  He was never able to be present for a sermon I've preached though I did video the first one and shared that with him.

I want to think that he would want me to continue, so... Nov. 23rd I'll be preaching and hopefully I won't cry!  And as often as I am able I will be the regular pulpit fill on those drill weekends when Im not needed else where. I think it will be fun to preach on a regular basis, I'm looking forward to it and am getting excited. I guess life really does go on even though it's hard. I can do this.  I should do this.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The True Christian

Romans 12:9-21New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Marks of the True Christian

"9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.[a] 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly;[b] do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;[c] for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

This was the scripture from worship yesterday.  I attended worship with my mother at Northaven UMC in Dallas, TX.  As the scripture was being read, I couldn't help but smile and think of my Daddy.  This was him, well... mostly.  :) 

When we were growing up and someone would be hurting one of us or seemed to be unfair or just not nice, Daddy would always say, "Put a grenade in her bra!"  We'd laugh and feel better at his silliness.  But really he always taught us to treat meanness with kindness.  He would say something about how by loving them even when 'they' were awful to us just irked 'them' so it was great revenge.  Lol He would tell us that we just had to keep being nice, keep loving and not to seek revenge or retribution, he'd say, "God will take care of them in the end."

So when they started reading verse 19 above, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." I couldn't  help but chuckle to myself and think first of that grenade.

Really, as it was being read I could see my daddy in most of this scripture.  "Serve the Lord..."  he was always doing that.  It just came naturally to him and he taught this to his kids by example.

"Show hospitality to strangers..."  I saw him do this over and over again.  Whether it was taking people to get gas, or cooking them a meal, I remember waiting in line at Six Flags when I was little and watching him show that hospitality to special needs young people waiting in line near us.  I loved watching him interact with them and show them such love and understanding to these special strangers.  I was always just in awe of him and his ability to do this.

Honestly, he lived this scripture every day.  So many of us witnessed it and are better people because of it, because of him.

He did get a little cranky the older he got but you know, even in his crankiness, he worried about others (which is sometimes what made him cranky), he cared deeply and was always there for all who needed him.

This whole grieving thing is tough.  I still can't believe he's gone.  How is it possible?  I see him in just about everything., scripture, football games, little things my kids say.  Just being in church!  He's everywhere and I'm so glad he is but it's hard.   

I'm still here with my mom for now.   Eventually I'll have to go home to my little family and it will be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.  It will be hard to leave my mom.  I've even asked my husband to look for a job here.  Mom said that Daddy always told widows to wait a year before making big decisions like that and I guess maybe that goes for kids too.  I do think about going home and seeing him there in the things around us and in the things we do.  I guess at first these things will be hard, they may always be but knowing that if he could, he would be there helps.  I personally believe he will be there always watching out for us and over us never missing a performance or promotion by the kids or even a sermon of mine. I miss you, Daddy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My First True Love

I have heard stories from when I was little of when my daddy would come home.  He would walk in and I would yell, "Daddy's Home!" in a very excited voice and he would reach out for me and I would hightail-it the other direction to hide under a table or chair.  I don't remember this at all.  All I remember is how much I loved him.

My memories are of getting up a little bit earlier in the mornings so that I could have snuggle time with him before getting ready for school most every day through high school and even sometimes in college. I even remember after I married trying to get up so that I could go get in bed with my parents and watch the news with them when we visited them.  I remember calling him at the church from school because I forgot something or because my ear hurt and him coming to bring me what I needed.  I remember him picking us up from school in the church van because our car was in the shop!  Talk about embarrassing!!  I remember him picking up my friends and me from school my freshman year in high school and taking us to sonic for fries and a slush almost everyday!

I remember his ministry.  He was a wonderful minister to all those around him.  He loved and cared for them all.  He touched lives his whole life.  He was a positive force in this world and definitely walked in the light.

He was always there for me.  I never had to worry about being alone because he would always be there for me.  He and my mother are the best parents I could ever ask for both as parents and role models.  I remember the first years (even decade) of my marriage, he would always slip money into my hand as he told me bye after a visit.  He knew things were tight and he wanted to help.  I got turkey money at both Thanksgiving and Christmas so he could be sure that I had a great meal of turkey and noodles and mashed potatoes and dressing and all the other trimmings.  He always made sure we had what we needed and was always there when we needed him.

I can remember calling him at work when I first got married and moved away.  I called him every other day (sometimes every day) at work just to chat and he always took time to listen to me.  Eventually, mom retired and was home so my calls turned to her and that kind of stuck even after he retired but he always listened in as best he could and boy if I was late calling he let me know it!  If I missed a day he worried and would usually end up calling me to see what was up!  If Mom didn't tell him something I told her and he found out about it later, he would get on to her.  He was funny.

He loved his grandkids.  He would do anything for them.  He and my mom drove all over to be with them, they came for plays, for recitals and for birthdays.  He played with them all the time.  He told them stories and sang songs with them.  Oh, I'll never forget him singing "Hot Cross Buns" with my darling daughter and he would purposely start singing "Three Blind Mice" in the middle of it.  My dd would fuss at him about getting the words wrong and he would insist that he was singing it right.  Every time he saw her he would ask her if she had learned the words to "Hot Cross Buns" right. As she got older she would laugh and say, "Have YOU??"

I learned so much from him.  He always taught by example.  He was a giver, he was faithful, he was loving.  I remember him bringing people home from church who had asked for assistance and he would give them an odd job to do to and pay them.  I remember him taking people down to the kitchen of the church and frying them some bacon and eggs when they were hungry.  I can remember him taking people to the gas station and filling up their cars for them.

I remember the special Christmas Eve services he always had at the churches he served.  It took him away from us most of the evening but I wouldn't have had it any other way.  I loved the come and go communion he had on Christmas Eve.  It was special for every one.  You came in as families and sat in a pew until it was your family's turn.  Daddy would call your family down and greet you.  I can remember the love he shared with each family as we waited for our turn.  You could just see it.  They would all kneel together and it was very private, personal, and holy.  It was always a very special communion and I really miss that.  Not a Christmas goes by that I don't think of it.  Later in the evening there would candlelight services one early and one later.  I loved it.

I guess I could really go on and on.  He was a wonderful man, a wonderful daddy, a great friend, a loving minister and I'm pretty sure my mother would say he was a wonderful husband as well.

Ray Daniel Hennigh  May 12, 1939 - Oct. 7, 2014