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An overflowing cup . . . a full heart.

Jason

Four years ago today, we were planning a celebration.  It was a home going celebration, a celebration of a life well lived. Four days earlier we were planning a different kind of party, a birthday party. A celebration of 30 years on this earth.

What a difference one moment in time can make. In the blink of an eye, in one breath not taken, the world as we know it shifts.

These last four years have been indescribably difficult yet they have been filled with such and out pouring of love from family and friends. I have heard people say over and over that just a few months after a death people disappear and grow weary of the grief. That they are told to buck up and get over it. (As if there is a chance of “getting over it”)

Today on Jason’s birthday I want to thank my family and friends for not being the norm. Not one time have I felt like you just wanted me to get back to “normal”, “to get over it”, to “move on”. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.

I love that you have let me experience my grief how I needed to experience it. I love that you have never left my side. How you have accepted this new me, because the old me will never be again.

Thank you for speaking of Jason, for reminding me of fun times you had with him. Thank you for telling me how much he meant to you, for telling me stories about him that I had never heard. Thank you for telling me you miss him too. This means more to me than you will ever know.

Thank you for being Jesus’s arms that have hugged me, his shoulder to lean on. Thank you for showering God’s love on me.

There are so many I could name here, but I won’t try and name names, there are too many. Two exceptions my daughter, Chelsey, and husband., Tim They have been my rocks, my heart.

My heart is full, my cup is overflowing.

heat in glass

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thess 4

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Calling all fathers . . . .

Story time

Are you a father or a dad? There is a difference, I read once that just about any man can father, but not all fathers are dads.

Below is a paper written by my son, Jason. I found it when going through his notebooks after he passed. (You can read that story here). I ran across it again this week and I have to tell you my heart hurt and still hurts for this boy turned man who came to realizations that no child should have to. Before I give too much away, here are Jason’s words:

Why did I come? The first woman he made those vows to was my mother. This was where I finally realized that I didn’t want to be like my dad, the man I used to idolize.

Growing up there were rare occasions when I got to spend time with my dad. I knew all those times, he was an important person. My dad would get us into video game arcades where the machines were rigged to let us play for free. He knew the owner of the slot-car track in South Salem, so we wouldn’t have to pay to race. We could go to stores after hours so we were the only ones shopping. My mom would tell me, “your dad knows a lot of people,” and I’ve come to realize that was all there was to it, but it seemed like more when I was younger.

The wedding was in my father’s back yard. It was western themed. My dad along with the groomsmen all wore suits and cowboy hats. There were barrels laying around. Torches illuminated the yard. As impressive as the wedding was, the only thing I could think about was the fact that my dad had gone through this same ceremony with my mom over 20 years ago.

The first thing I remember is going to the park with my dad. He was pushing me on the swing and I, being the AD/HD 3 year old I was, started wondering what it would feel like to let go. It hurt, a lot. The whole way home I was crying and my dad kept saying, “if you don’t shut up I’m never taking you anywhere again.” It turned out that my collarbone was broken. He’s told me since that he feels bad about yelling.

As my dad stood at the altar, he was slightly taller than an average man and slightly more muscular than the average gorilla. His suit and cowboy hat in stark contrast to his normal gym shorts and t-shirt with missing sleeves. The sleeves were ripped off out of necessity rather than any sense of style. Nicely polished cowboy boots replaced his normal sandals. His straight brown hair stuck out just under his hat, and his beard and mustache were shaved off.

Several years back, just after he divorced his fourth wife, my dad called me. He asked me if I thought he could make money as a computer technician. Three months later he was a licensed computer tech. In another month he know more about computers that anyone I’d met. He’s always been like this. Whenever he gets tired of what he is doing he moves on to something else. About a year after the computer job he took a job repossessing cars. About six months later he called me and asked if I wanted to help him fight forest fires on a helicopter for the summer. He didn’t end up fighting. He tore his Achilles tendon while leg pressing something over 1800 lbs.

The minister performed a traditional wedding ceremony. So, despite being outside, in cowboy hats, the normal vows were read, “Through richer and poorer, through sickness and health, till death do us part.”

My parents got divorced when I was 4. I vaguely remember my dad driving away. I didn’t see him or hear from him much after that. After he married his third wife and moved to California, I only saw him two weeks out of the year. He always seemed to work nights, no matter what his job was. When I did visit I’d play Nintendo and wait for my dad to wake up. He would always have something to do before work, so I’d only get to see him for a few minutes. When he’d get home from work early in the morning, I’d always be awake to greet him. All he’d say was, “I’m beat son, I’ll see you when I wake up.”

His bride’s family owned a catering company. There was rice pilaf, chicken, turkey, spaghetti, punch, soda, wine, beer. The food was as aesthetically pleasing as it was plentiful. In the middle of the cake there were three covered wagons with a working waterfall.

He would miss birthdays. He wouldn’t call for months. He would seem to completely forget about me. But when he did call he somehow made me feel like I was the most important thing in the world to him and I sincerely believe, even now, that at that moment I was. We’d talk about my grades, what I was reading, the latest video games or the computer I was working on building. Whenever we would talk about computers the conversation would end with my dad saying, “well s*** son, I’m impressed.”

The reception, still in the backyard, included dancing. The D.J. played mostly country music. I was expected to dance with my grandmother, the brides mother, the bride. “I’m so happy to be married to your dad.” So was my mom. “He is such a great man.” I used to think so too. “He’s so good with my son.”
(Written by Jason Taylor, September 2009)

I ask again, are you a dad to your kids? Married or single, are you a daddy? I get it, being a single non-custodial parent is hard, it is really hard. Just being a parent is hard, but, they are worth the effort. Our kids deserve the effort no matter how hard it is.

I can’t say that often enough or loud enough, your kids deserve the effort, no matter what the effort is. Don’t let it be too late. Start over, do better, don’t say you’ll do better, do it. You can do it, it will be hard, there will be hard stuff, your kids may act as if they don’t want you. Keep at it, keep trying, your kids are worth your effort. They are worth your best efforts, over and over again. Never give up. Love them with actions not words, not stuff.

In these days before Fathers Day, I am pleading with you, from this momma’s heart, be the daddy your kids deserve.

 

Cowboy

Stories from behind the cardboard sign part 3

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I stopped at a rest stop, he was sitting there with his cardboard sign and can. His face was lined with a million stories. He wore rough work clothes, worn work boots and a cowboy hat that had seen decades of use.

I summoned my courage to stop and talk to him. His face was compelling, it had a million stories in the wrinkles and crinkles, I wanted to hear at least one of them. I told him I did not have cash but I had some energy bars in the car, would he like a few? He looked up with hazy blue eyes that still had a twinkle to them, he said yes he would love them.

I sat next to him, handed him the bars and a bottle of water. He thanked me and told me that he was so ashamed to be sitting here asking for money, he had a small trailer to go home to, but he needed a medical procedure and he did not have the money for it. We chatted for a few minutes, he told me he rode in rodeos, worked as a cowboy on ranches, he said there is no retirement fund for those jobs. He reminisced for just a minute about how he loved that work.

I mentioned to him I was a photographer and that I would love to take his picture, he very politely declined. I told him was I understood, but in truth I was so disappointed, he had the most interesting face.  He told me he had done things in his past he did not want his face on that “web thing”. I told him I respected his privacy.

He questioned why I would want a picture of him, he was just an old wrinkled man. I explained about how his face drew me to him and how I thought he had many stories. He smiled shyly, and shook his head a little embarrassed.

He was well-spoken, shy, and a little ashamed, but he would not trade the “cowboy days” and would still be riding if he was able. I left him with a hand shake, and wishing I could hear more. I still check out that rest stop when I pass in hopes of seeing him again.

 

Author’s note:  I spoke with this man “Cowboy” last spring. Out of this conversation came the courage to actually do this project that has been in my head for years.

 

Gratitude Production 101

gratitude production 101

Here are all the links to all 7 blogs in case you missed one. Trust me you do not want to miss one. All on the same subject, all so different yet so similar.

Before November gives way to December and all that seems to go with this time of year, make sure to read these. After this week of reading these I feel better prepared to enter this busy season. I will be more intentional with my thanksgiving, more satisfied with what I have, more compassionate to those who don’t have, more focused on the real reason for the season. I will be more thankful.

Take a few minutes, ready them one right after the other, like chapters in a book. it won’t take long. Choose just one or two of the suggestions to try see if it doesn’t change the way you look at celebrating the birth of our Jesus.

Day One by Traci Castaneda : Thanksgiving Blog Venture Day 1

Day Two by Terry Porter : Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Day Three by Bev Landgren : 365 Days of Grateful

Day Four by Joe Castaneda : Be Thankful. Be Thankful. Be Thankful.

Day Five by Tom Tanner : Rooted, Built, Established and Abounding in Thanksgiving

Day Six by Danny Ray : 3 Ways to Make this Thanksgiving the Best One Ever

Day Seven by Becca Forrest : Intentional Thanksgiving

I am working on a special project for this weekend. Stay tuned!

Have a blessed tomorrow.

Intentional Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day – day 7 of the 7 blog hop on Thanksgiving. Becca’s post reminds us of what is truly important, not just on this day but in the days to come. Stop my her blog, look around and leave her a little blog love!

Today is the day where we all remember to be thankful. As we sit around a turkey feast, grabbing a third piece of pie, and sharing what and who we are grateful for, our hearts are filled.

Remembering the good, the blessings, the love steadies the mind and reassures the heart that all will be okay — God has provided and will continue to provide.

Source

Then we wake from our turkey induced slumber to November 28th and the weight of holiday stress crashes down on us. All thought of blessing and thanks are drowned out by Black Friday madness harmonizing with Christmas to-do lists.

So how can we remove the Christmas season stress? I think the key lies in Thanksgiving Day!

We spend Thanksgiving intentionally remembering the blessings in our lives. What if we did that throughout the holiday season? What if we let our thankfulness for what we already have guide…

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Best Ever!

The Day before Thanksgiving – Are you ready? Turkey thawing in the frig? Pies ready? No? Me either!!

But please take a minute in this busy evening of preparation and check out the blog by Danny Ray. Day 6 of 7 of the Thankfulness blog hop.

Today’s post comes from Danny Ray. Day 6 of 7.  Stop by his blog and look around. A very talented magician proclaiming Jesus. This is close to my heart as many of you know my dad used magic to point kids to Jesus.

3 Ways to Make this Thanksgiving the Best One Ever

Rainbow after the stormCan you picture Noah’s face when he saw the first rainbow? He just spent the last year on a boat with his family. 365+ days with his family! A year with his daughter-in-laws and his soon to be cursed son, Ham! How much Bingo, Monopoly and Scrabble can one family play? Imagine spending Thanksgiving with your entire family for a year with no place to go. Some of you know your family would not survive that year. Someone would be thrown overboard, someone would be strangled to death, and someone would get locked up with the lions.

Noah survived. He weathered the greatest storm the world has ever known.

Beautiful clouds.

Brilliant sunrises.

Breathless moments of awe.

The Creator’s paintbrush touching the sky with stunning beauty, but no rainbow.

Click here to read the rest

 Don’t miss out on the others – Find them here:

The Overboard Life – Joe Castaneda

The Musing of a Life – Bev Everett Landgren

The Real Life – Terry Porter

Danny Ray – Danny Ray

Be Extraordinary – Traci Castaneda

Making Life Beautiful – Becca Forrest

Relentless Growth – Tom Tanner