Have you ever loved someone to death? I can remember when my mom brought my baby sister home from the hospital. I loved her to death! I spoiled her beyond belief. I loved her with my whole heart, until it felt like my heart would explode from trying to love her so much. But, my sister is still with me, and I haven't died yet from loving her. I'm sure now that I could have loved her a little bit more."God pours life into death and death into life without a drop being spilled." ~Author Unknown
I have said before that my father left me a legacy… he left me. He left us when I was two, and my mother was pregnant with my middle sister. He abandoned us, and all we knew was that he went to Chicago. As I saw it, my blood is worthless and I have no ancestry to trace. But, time will tell a different story. On July 9, we learned that our father had passed away, from a relative who had heard it from a distant relative who was in town trying to locate us, since we had not had contact with our Dad’s family in more than a decade. We had been taken to visit our grandparents every summer for two weeks until I was 13. Though we enjoyed our visits there, we learned little or nothing about our Father.
We had tried to contact our father for a while, without success. Finally, in 1996, after 30 years absence, he wanted to see me and my sister, and what we had turned out like I guess, and asked to meet us. We met him briefly at a park with our kids who were still young then. I took him a Father's Day card, the only one I had ever given anyone, since it was a few weeks before Father's Day.
When we met him, we realized that the man who had abandoned us all those years ago was now aging, and had apparantly spent much time homeless. He gave us an address, but when I sent a letter later, it was returned address unknown. I tried to contact him through relatives, to no success. So, for the past 16 years, every time I saw the homeless men under the bridges, I thought of him. Whenever it was snowing, I imagined him freezing cold. I figured one day his family might let us know when he died, and we would at least have a grave to visit. I wasn't doing the math. He was 71 when he died. Many of his brothers and sisters are now passed on.
When I heard that he had passed, I thought they had probably found him dead under some bridge. But, after contacting the County office, I learned that he had been in a nursing home there in Chicago for the past 6 years of that time. He died in the nursing home alone. No family or anyone to love. I learned his cause of death from the nursing home, and that he had been in two other nursing homes for another year before that, making a total of seven years off the streets. But, he came to the nursing home with not even a photo in his pocket, and they had provided the clothes he wore.
I had his body flown to Georgia, and I made the funeral arrangements. I learned from the funeral director that his body had gone unclaimed so long, that he had been embalmed by the local medical college students. They were about to cremate him as unclaimed, until I called. Part of me aches over the loss of the Father I never had, a lonely, penny-less old man with no family, and the homelessness he suffered. Yet, part of me is at peace from the knowledge that someone had pity on him in his final years, that now I will have a grave to visit, and now I have been given the bittersweet blessing of being able to lay my father to rest.
So many times, people just don't care for those who are down and out, or who have made bad choices. They don't realize that there go I, but for the grace of God. It is most sad to realize that I would have much rather flown him in alive, rather than dead. I wanted a father, dead or alive. I wasn’t given a choice. I had to settle for dead. I loved him to death. Now, I can only speak to his grave. I just received his birth certificate from Nashville. But, I don't have him. God is our Heavenly Father, and His feelings for us are much the same. God's grace and mercy, are there for each of us. His love for each human being cannot be diminished. But, how many of us have allowed Him to love us. I am so thankful that I will have a grave to visit my Father now. I just wish I could have been there for him in his last years. God works in mysterious ways.
Earlier this year, I met Randy Dueck, and helped him develop a website for his homeless ministry in California. He would appreciate any donations for his wish list for the homeless, if you have a mind to have a look. He delivers tents and survival supplies to the homeless under the Antelope Bridge. I drove through Atlanta, here in Georgia a couple weeks ago, and I saw some tents under the bridges on the Atlanta interstates. The homeless have tents under there now, instead of the cardboard I used to see them sleeping under. That's awesome! Maybe the homeless ministry is spreading.
My father’s Funeral was such a bittersweet blessing. We played Amazing Grace, by Chris Tomlin, and Only Grace, by Matthew West. My baby sister’s Pastor spoke and sang. My middle sister’s church provided a grave plot at the church cemetery. Our Father’s surviving brothers and sisters came, and many of our maternal relatives and our family members. We had the service in the chapel, and the headstone (when it is finished) will say: “Our Father.” We chose one with a mountain scene and a deer, to remind us of the Tennessee mountain home of our father in his childhood.
While we were at the funeral, a paternal uncle gave us an envelope. He said our father had been left a share in the inheritance from another brother who had died. He had been unable to locate our father in settling the estate. So, the money would now go to me to split with my sister, since it should pass from our father to us after his death. My share was $200.00. I knew I wanted to use it for something I would remember my father by. So, I decided to buy a piece of my Pastor’s vision. My Pastor, Scott Benefield of Tallapoosa Assembly of God has a vision for living a life of purpose. I decided to spend the 200 dollars purposefully on our church’s Food Pantry, to feed the hungry, in memory of the years my father spent homeless and on the streets. I will always remember that my father did not die alienated and alone for no purpose. His homelessness left me a legacy of love for the homeless, the disenfranchised, the hungry, and the lost. That is an inheritance worth sharing!
I haven't gotten lost, or forgotten my passwords, just feeling a little lost inside. On the 9th, I learned my Father passed away. We laid him to rest on the 15th, Sunday. I have a lot on my mind about that, and every time I sit down in front of the keyboard thus far to put it to words, I have fallen into a deep sleep. So, here it is midnight, and once again I have slept the evening away and here is an empty screen.
On the Friday before the funeral, I took my nephews to Build-a-Bear in the Douglasville Arbor Place Mall. The next morning, Timmy sat in my lap and sang with me into the camera on my tablet. He is two years old, and loves to sing. His big brother Thomas is into video games & camera shy but, Timmy is not bashful at all, a camera ham really. At one point in the video included below we had to stop to fix a leaky diaper situation. But, after rehearsing once through, we finished with a pretty good rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Jesus Loves Me. Timmy can't talk more than a few words, but it sounds like he is saying "Jesus loves Daddy's Baby." As you can see at the end, he has no real concept even of names beyond that he is the baby. But, he loves singing and looking at himself on the tablet screen. You can tell when he begins to realize that the screen image is himself.
Rhymes & Songs include:
Hey Diddle Diddle
Jesus Loves Me
“Why should I believe him? Who is he to me?” This was my thought as a preteen, living with a step-dad who in all fairness thought very poorly of me, or at least professed to have a low opinion of me. Looking honestly at his ratings, and at my own life, I reflected his assessment backwards. I looked back to the natural father who had abandoned my pregnant mother and I when I was just two. What could his abandonment reflect on me when I had been too young for him to dislike? All two year olds are cute. No, this man, much like the first was unbelievable. He had a problem, and clearly it wasn’t me.
Later experiences with my first husband, who was physically abusive, and held approximately 30 jobs in the six years we were together, but was unemployed for over 20 of those months, taught me I couldn’t trust him either. In a book called Daddy Loves His Girls, T. D. Jakes says that a child often projects his or her experience with their earthly father on the Heavenly Father. If they had a domineering dad, they see God as domineering, and so on. I can see where this can happen for most people. But, in my case, I had rejected my father as an image of a father. I had rejected my step-dad’s treatment of me as a father’s treatment. I instead chose God as my Father, the only father I had really ever had. I can’t explain how this came to be. But, I saw clearly that He loved me, and wanted me, and that he was believable.
Fortunately, during the intervening years, I had the opportunity to meet and know a number of wonderful fathers. I watched them with their children, and learned that I had just happened to have my early life filled with some prime examples of the few that are not trust-worthy. I remember one of the earlier such experiences was in driving down the road in my early divorced years, and noticing a little girl sitting in the middle of the seat of a pickup truck. She was sitting right up next to her father, I presumed. It was such a surprising picture that I cried. Her Daddy loved her and she loved him. It was such a shocking, unfamiliar image in my experience. She loved and trusted this man, I could see that clearly.
It was the fact of the love of my Father, God that taught me that I didn’t have to accept less than good treatment from the men in my life. I realized that many women in my situation often accept bad treatment, because that is all they ever knew. My situation was different, though. Because I could see that I could trust Jesus, and my step-dad didn’t give me this type of fatherly love, I left my hometown at the age of 17, just after I graduated from High School, on a Greyhound bus. It was because I knew from my 12 years as a Christian that God had not treated me like my husband did, that I left my husband at the age of 26, despite the fact that I didn’t “believe in” divorce. I wasn’t going to accept that type of treatment. I knew I didn’t have to accept it. Despite the fact that I had met him at church, he did not treat me in a way that was very “godly.”
I never wanted to be one of those women who thought they couldn’t trust any man, simply because they had met a few bad examples. I was very fortunate to have experienced the love of God in my life. I remember protesting to my pastor once that I did not believe that women should just have to accept what society hands them. I had been handed a raw deal, and didn’t have to accept it. Despite these early and prolonged problems with a few men, God led me to a man who is trust-worthy. I met my husband almost three years ago, and learned that I could believe him. If he said he would do something, it was as good as done. He is an honest man. I have no problems trusting him, even though I know him, and his faults well, (and he knows my faults too.) But then, I have every reason to believe him. He has shown himself believable. He is so much like my son, Travis, (who still lives at home with us) despite the difference in height, and a few other differences. Travis is a person of integrity. I like that. I taught him to be that way. I taught him to hold doors open for others, and to be courteous. I believe that both of my sons learned that well, one way or another. I always taught them to treat me well. I was always concerned about how they grew up feeling that they needed to treat women and children.
I chose the online handle “Reason2BelieveHim” in 2002, and associated it with a yahoo email account first. Before that I had been using “childofonegod,” and the email was overran with spam, so I dumped it. From there, I have moved to the point today where I have built a website, blog, and app with the title, as well as using it on various online message boards and social media. I like the title, because it makes it possible to describe my relationship with this "Him" God I refer to euphemistically as a pronoun. My goal is simple...I want to share my reasons for believing in this one I share my life and being with. So, my websites and my writing are about relationship and trust.
I learned years ago that love and trust mean more than roses from a man. In the past, I had a box of collected love letters and pressed roses from old boyfriends. I finally threw them away in the year 2000, simply because I wanted to move on. I wanted to move away from a box of dead, faded promises, and move on to a life with someone who kept his word. I didn’t meet this man until 2009 (oops changed date :) I knew that when I found him, I wouldn’t want to have all those broken promises lying around. I wanted to be able to have open arms to love him, without carrying all that past around in my heart. It was a smart thing to do. I believe that loving Him taught me how to love him.