Friday, December 14, 2012

Daddy's Little Girl

While driving around tonight, I heard the Mills Brothers sing Daddy's Little Girl on the radio. Apparently, because it has the word Christmas in it, it's considered a Christmas song. I'm trying to figure out how that resonates with the Easter Bunny reference; ultimately, I guess that's neither here nor there.

You're the end of the rainbow, the pot of gold,
You're daddy's little girl to have and to hold.
A precious gem is what you are,
You're mommy's bright and shining star.
You're the spirit of Christmas, our star on the tree,
You're the Easter Bunny to mommy and me;
You're sugar, you're spice, you're everything nice,
And you're daddy's little girl.

I know it's supposed to be a happy song, but it makes my heart ache...and not just because I only got three days with my little girl. I spent a significant portion of the day crying. Heaven welcomed too many angels today. Nearly two dozen families in Connecticut face futures that look black and empty tonight. Mothers and fathers have lost children who, when they first awoke this morning, they expected to tuck in and kiss goodnight tonight. Husbands and/or wives will go to bed alone. I know this darkness...and it breaks my heart that other people do, too, especially since this was no accident.

The following days, weeks, and months will be filled with arguments and rhetoric from the left and the right...none of which will bring these angels back. And, unfortunately, it probably won't prevent it from happening in the future. Policy and rhetoric are often of little use when pitted against evil.

As as nation, as a world, we're left with the question of why? The situation will be analyzed from thousands of angles; however, we may never truly know the heart and mind, and the darkness therein, of the young man who committed this atrocity. Our questions may never be answered.

Tonight I'm left wondering how can we, as people of faith, reach out to our communities to address the heart issues that are at the root of this type of evil?

Abba, I offer you my brokenness tonight. So much pain. So many tears. So many dreams and hopes brought to a violent end. It's too much for me to think about and handle on my own, on our own. I offer this to you, knowing you stand beside us. You weep with the broken hearted.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Steve Jobs

It's been a little over a year since Steve Jobs passed away. He was young, by the standards we set in this society, but he had always felt that he would not live a "long" life.

I've been plodding through Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs for several months. I say plodding due to the fact that it's taking me a long time to read it, not because it's boring...not by a long shot. It seems as though I will spend two or three days reading voraciously and then set the book aside for a week or two. Indeed, Steve Jobs was a very intense person...maybe setting the book aside helps keep me from getting caught up in his well documented "reality distortion field." It's an interesting read, at least for me; I'm a little bit into technology and a lot into Apple's products.

The man was  a genius. The man was a visionary. The man was really weird...but...weird sort of fits. Think about people like Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, and Howard Hughes just to name a few. They were all brilliant and at least a little weird. In fact, some of the greatest geniuses of history went "crazy," if they lived long enough.

By no means was Steve Jobs an exemplar of the finest qualities of leadership. He was often a brutal leader, unable to relate to his employees in a humane manner...but the people who worked with/for him typically speak of the experience as one they don't regret. As cruel and abrupt as he could be, he also brought out the best in people. He was able to get people to do the things they had previously thought impossible simply by getting them to believe they could do it. He was able to convince people to accomplish in hours or days what they had tried to convince him would take weeks or months.

As I read about this charismatic genius, a master of spin, a man who was able to turn sand and circuits into a multi-billion dollar empire, I can't help but wonder what the world would be like if all that energy had been focused on changing it in a different way? What if Steve Jobs had cared about people's hearts as much as he did about providing them with great technology experiences? It's a wonder I'll just have to let wander in my mind.

I'm no Steve Jobs...not by a long shot...but I wonder if I can't learn from him in a way that will impact my faith in a positive way. Steve was all about putting something in people's hands that would leave them wanting more. It needed to be easy, simple to use, something they should feel good about, something that they recognized as being good to have in their lives. Shouldn't that be how my faith looks to the world? Shouldn't people want to pick it up and look at? Find out what it's all about? Take it home with them and incorporate it into their life? Should it be easy and intuitive or should it come with 1,000 pages of complex instructions?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Abba, I come to you in my brokenness. I ask that you make me a light in a dark world. Make me humble. Make me gentle. That they world would see your Son in me and You in Him.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Count your blessings.

Oh, my...where does the time go.

It's been so long since I've written anything. I have an email inbox full of songs that I intended to write about over the past few months...but never did. Call it a time management problem. The time to write is there...I just haven't managed to actually do it. More than blog neglect, it's been a spiritual neglect as well. No loss of faith, no rejection of the things I believe, more like a long sit on a bench in the park. A long sit may not represent progress forward on a path, but it does give one time to think, and think, and think. The time for thinking is done, I need to start walking again.

I moved back into my house this past week. After a few days of unpacking, slowly, and banging my head on door frames I don't remember banging my head on before, I found my cupboards to be bare and decided to go grocery shopping this afternoon. There is nothing spectacular about grocery shopping. It is a chore most of us do on a fairly regular basis.

I'm not sure how other people who have lost a spouse and/or child experience grocery shopping, but for me it's almost always a bittersweet activity. I see mothers, and sometimes fathers, struggling through the store, with their children in tow, and the frustration is often evident on their face. My heart can't help but long for that struggle. As I stood in line tonight, the woman in front of my was "bellyaching" to the cashier that her young daughter was quite a handful....all I could think was, "count your blessings, lady, count your blessings."

After checking out, I was pushing my cart into the parking lot and the refrain of Count Your Blessings popped into my head...and the tears popped out of my eyes. I was feeling very appreciative that the sun had gone down and the bright lights of the store were behind me, shadowing my face.

The song was a poignant reminder that I, too, need to count my blessings.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

As I count my blessings, I try to remind myself that the vast majority of people, including myself, live life, make choices, and choose our words based on the portfolio of our experiences. I also try to remind myself that I would have probably been making the same "bellyaches" had things been different.

Abba, please accept this broken offering. Thank you for reminding me that I am blessed. Help me to see You and be You in the world today.