Missed Connections

I experienced a tragedy a few years ago when my father went to be with Jesus. In the midst of my mourning, I also found myself mourning something else – repeated failed attempts to give something of myself to my dad, a poem or prose to honor him, and to express my thoughts and feelings. Even before he died, I was searching myself for inspiration to write something as my way to honor my dad.

But sadly, nothing surfaced. I tried penning a few poems, but to no avail. I doubled my efforts in the days following my dad’s passing, as I was hoping to have something ready for his funeral. It really bothered me that I was having such a hard time writing even a simple poem.

A little over a year before my father died, a wonderful woman in my church went to Heaven. I had known Stephanie and her family for almost 20 years. We were not close or anything, but our families knew each other from church. The morning following the news, I wrote a really nice poem for her and gave it to the family. So why couldn’t I do the same for my dad?

The answer = relationship. I had a relationship with Stephanie Barnes: we attended the same church for over ten years, I went to the same school as her girls (though they were a good 10 yrs younger than me), and again attended the same church up until she died. The relationship was not close knit, but I still knew her.

I cannot say the same thing for my dad. The past had long ago been forgiven, but that did not magically create a relationship. As I listened to friends and family give testimonies about dad, I realized just how much I really did not know him. The poem I was trying to write would not come because I did not have anything to draw from. I need to know dad; and more, I needed relationship with him.

The truth is, we all need relationship…it’s in our bones, literally. God made us in His image, and made us to desire relationship – that is why Adam was lonely even though he walked with God every day and was surrounded by every animal imaginable. So God took a bone and gave him a companion. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” While that verse is certainly referring to coming together for church, I think Paul was also exhorting believers to not forsake relationship with one another as well.

My new church in Tulsa has, in addition to weekly services and activities, small group meetings called Connect Groups. There is a Connect group for every age group, married couples, singles, divorced members, single parents, different nationalities (including Native Americans), different biblical topics – you name it. The pastors understand how important it is for Christians to connect with one another, especially in a church of several thousand members.

We were not made to be loners – we need people, and people need us. My dad was able to bring his family (or most of us anyway) back together again. I reconnected with cousins and uncles/aunts whom I have not seen in almost 20 years. We have all vowed to not let each other slip away again. It took this tragedy to remind us how fragile life is, and how important we are to each other.

Thanks Dad – for bringing us all back together.

Not Forgotten

For my dad who went to Heaven on May 24, 2011 – I wrote this on the first anniversary of his passing.

You are remembered-
When those random
thoughts trickle down
the back of my mind.
When I hear that song
you loved on the radio –
all it takes is the first
few notes and I see
your crooked smile.
When I think of her –
especially in your arms,
together and smiling.
She is in my heart every
day, and so are you.
No monuments, no lavish
words – just the dreams
that give me new memories,
and the remnants of you in
my own imperfect smile.


I know those eyes-

naive, innocent girl with eyes

that are always watching.

She was once “Past” –

that monstrous unnamed baby

who begged for warmth.

Now she calls herself “History”-

knows too much, all the dark

that followed the light. She

knows what no one wants

to remember and everyone

wishes to forget. I see her

far more than I care to.

And if she found me, she

can find anyone. There is

no closing those eyes, no

choice but to see the dark.

Something Like an Epiphany

I was recently sharing stories and experiences from my past with a friend.  Some of them occurred several years ago, but I could still recall almost every detail. As I was describing events and conversations, there was a tiny light bulb from somewhere within…deeper than just my mind…my soul perhaps that demanded to be heard. You can still remember this? Why would you even want to? Why are you still holding on to all of this? What does it matter now? When your soul speaks, it is usually a good time to listen to it.

The past is so alluring…the victories, the good times, the hurts, and everything in between. There is a big part of me who wants to scream “Enough!” to those old thoughts and memories. I want to forget it all and go on. It is rather masochistic how many times our past pain is actually a source of comfort, like a thorn covered security blanket. It hurts, but we have had it for so long that we would not know what to do without it.

Truth is, letting go can be scarier than we want to admit. Than I want to admit. But how can I ask for integrity from others when I refuse to demand it of myself? To the degree that you are willing to be honest with yourself is how much you can heal and move on with your life. We can be honest to everyone except the person looking back at us in the mirror. It is much easier sometimes to remain victimized within ourselves.

I am tired of being scared and keeping an emotional distance because of something that happened to me in the past. Sure it was a big deal, but was/is it go great that I will allow this wrong to dictate my life? It is like I swing too far either way; not opening up at all or spilling my guts (which is what I did). There is a happy medium somewhere in there…just need to locate it. There are time when I feel as though I have almost found myself. But she can be a fleeting nymph, so the chase is still in progress.

I went through times in my life when I allowed the hurts and bad memories rob me of being hopeful. I don’t want to be jaded, seeing the glass as both half-full and being made of a breakable substance that isn’t worth caring about.

I remember a poem I wrote several years ago that began with “Flood the corridors of my soul with rays of a dawning hope…”


Much Ado About Love

“Love like you have never been hurt”

Someone recently sent me an email that included the statement above…it really stuck to my brain and got me thinking on the subject of love. Has our idea and definition of love become so eschewed that we no longer really know what it is? Do we just view love as an emotion for the sappy and hopeless romantics? The sad thing…there are a good number of men and women who feel that showing love is actually a sign of weakness.

But love is such an amazing and powerful force – it can have the strength of worlds, and also be so fragile that a few harsh words or even one action can break its bonds in a mere moment. But yet, it can also only take one word (or act) to restore those broken pieces as whole again. Yes, love really is wondrous. And it does make the world go ‘round. It makes God who He is, and is what bridges us to our Abba Father.

And as for being weak? To love is to be rather strong and courageous. I believe one of the bravest decisions you can ever make in your life is to love. That takes a lot of guts, because it’s not just romantic love either – but compassion for anyone who may cross your path (lovely and unlovely alike). Contrary to what some may believe, Love is neither blind nor naïve about the darker side of humanity; it just chooses to see the best in all people, and to chase away that darkness with its light. That kind of love can only come from Jesus.

The second bravest thing you can do is to be able to love the person staring back at you from the bathroom mirror each morning. When Jesus said that we had to love our neighbor as ourselves, he had no idea what he was asking of us. It seems easy enough…loving yourself, right? Except that many times we can be our own worst judge and lover – because we can never seem to forget our wrongs.

I think this is one of the reasons why God made it so simple and easy to repent…because he knew it was in our nature to make the forgiveness process within ourselves so difficult and drawn-out. We can find it so easy to love everyone else in the world ten times over, but we struggle and often fall short when it comes to loving ourselves. Thing is, what Jesus did on the cross can not have as much meaning for you as long as you refuse to love yourself.

Jesus loved every side and shade of mankind enough to die for us. He was not dragged and yanked onto that cross either; he went willingly because he knew what was at stake…that is some powerful love. He chose to love us like we had never and would never hurt Him. We not only have to be willing to love others with all courage (like no one has ever broken your heart), we must love ourselves in the same manner…just like Jesus.