Today is my Dad’s 67th birthday.
Normally, my family would hold one celebration for all of the July birthdays in the family, but this year we’re breaking tradition.
Dad has been in the hospital since suffering a severe stroke on Saturday, June 25th. And just two days ago, after what seemed like an eternity to all of us (six kids, three sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, seven grandkids and mom) he was moved out of ICU into a private room with no limit on how many visitors can be in the room at once or how long we can stay.
That in and of itself felt like a celebration. And I think Dad was gettin’ onto my brother and me for being too loud that night because he raised his hand up at us as if to say, “be quiet.” We tend to egg each other on and get a little rowdy sometimes. But, we also noticed a smile on Dad’s face as all of us joked around and laughed and shared memories.
Today will probably be filled with mixed emotions as we all file into his room to sing happy birthday with balloons and eat birthday cupcakes. He won’t get to have a cupcake, but hopefully he will be able to blow out the candle.
Life can change in an instant and when it does, you need your family. You need a comforting home base to retreat to. And you need your faith.
Faith, Family and Familiarity.
Those are the things that make the trials of life a bit more bearable; they are the substance of a successful home.
Let’s talk about faith for a minute. Frankly, I think my faith is somewhat weak in the sense that I have a hard time trusting in God’s plans. I find waiting on Him extremely difficult. I’m impatient. And often, I’m disappointed by His ways.
However, I know that the problem lies with me; my sense of entitlement, my need to be in control, my fears and mistrust. Knowing that has led me into a pursuit of knowing God. Who is He? What is He really like? What does His word actually mean?
Here’s what I’ve uncovered so far;
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6,7 NIV
That verse, and actually all of the book of John, used to really frustrate me. I felt like Jesus was talking in circles, and I was just as confused as the disciples were by it.
But somehow, it makes more sense to me now. Jesus represents God. All of the qualities and characteristics of Jesus reflect the mirror image of God, so if you know Jesus, you know God. This kind of knowing isn’t a casual acquaintance. It’s an intimate familiarity; the kind you develop from spending a lot of time with someone like the disciples did with Jesus.
Because of His time on earth, especially His teaching ministry, Jesus has always been so much more relatable and approachable to me. That was God’s intention all along; to become man so that we could see Him, know Him and trust Him.
Realizing that doesn’t take away the grief I feel over my Dad’s loss of movement and speech, my deep heartache over his own grief and sadness, or my fears for his future. It’s not supposed to. What this newfound understanding of God’s Word is meant to do is work its way into my spirit and prepare room for a bigger God than I had fashioned through the lens all of my doubts and fears.
Thankfully, I’m surrounded by a family who shares my faith. A family who shows up for each other. A family who loves hard. I know how lucky I am.
If that doesn’t describe your family, there is hope. My family has seen our share of troubled relationships. It’s because of those times and the fact that we stand united today that I can offer you hope. It may take a lot of prayer and a long time, as it did with my family, but reconciliation is possible.
While hanging out in the waiting room, my brother, sisters and I were talking about how we missed “normal;” eating dinner at home or relaxing with our spouse at the end of the day and how we cherish the moments that we’ve been able to experience some semblance of our everyday routines since our Dad’s stroke.
Despite the circumstances, it’s so comforting to steal a few hours away from the hospital to be in the familiarity of home. Or going to an impromptu cook out at a friend’s house.
Speaking of “first annuals” and family traditions, I thought I would leave you on a happy note with this list of 20 Family Traditions You Can Start At Home that I originally shared in my 31 Days to Love the Home You’re With series and then eventually became a favorite chapter for readers of my book.
See you in class,