Our Friend Karen … Can’t Wait!

I am writing in this in the back seat of the car in route to Goose Creek, SC to say goodbye to one of our dearest friends, Karen. Not a road trip that we relish, but we are comforted that she is now beyond the pain and the struggle, and can enter into the peace and joy of her Savior.

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In October of 1993, I jumped in my little Subaru in Norfolk, VA and headed to my new duty station at Trident Refit Facility in Kingsbay, GA. I left my family behind and for the next two months. It was a time appointed for me to learn about relationship; first between me and God and then about loving others. I learned to be intentional about seeking friendships and I was led to Todd and Karen.

 

Over the next month or I horned in on their family life and tried to lay some groundwork so that Lynn would have a friend when she moved down in December. God knew what he was doing when he brought Karen into our lives.

 

After a 20 hour trek, our family arrived at housing on December 22nd. Todd & Karen helped us move and then 2 days later, we had Christmas dinner together. That would be the first of many holidays we would spend together over the next 4 years.

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Karen … Over those four years:

  • You were closer than a sister,

  • You kept my Lynnie sane during deployments,

  • You cried with us when we suffered loss,

  • You supported us when we struggled without a moment of judgement.

  • When we were in crisis, you always were there, you made all those Barbie birthday cakes and one memorable, “two mound cake”, which seemed to need a bra to maintain decency.

  • You and Lynnie sat for hours on the floor playing some weird Nintendo dictionary game with two animated crayons and some how we were entertained just watch you laugh at each other.

  • Covered each others heads when our children did ridiculous things in church plays. (Jeffery & Sam)

  • Took glee in embarrassing our children in public.

  • We raised our children together and shared our whole lives with each other.

  • We were family.

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Precious gifts like you only come along once or twice in a lifetime. Our lives have been forever changed because you were our friend.

It does not seem real that you are gone.  We long to play one more game, have one more laugh, to give you one last hug, and mostly to say all of this face to face. Fortunately, we know that we will have an eternity to spend in joy … Can’t wait!

“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. 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.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Rebekah – Born for Adversity

Navy Family

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

(Proverbs 17:17)

Transitioning in and out of military service is a very stressful time for any family.  In the fall of 1984, I finally came to the realization after falling on my face multiple times trying to be a responsible husband and father decided that it was time to grow up.  With a young wife and two babies and no career opportunities looming, I reached out for some in finding order and enlisted in the United States Navy.  The Navy was a little leery of taking on the burden of a young man with a growing family and required several dependency waiver hearings before they approving my enlistment.   Had they realized that number three was on the way (not to mention four other ones over the coming years), my Navy career may have entered before it began. So after boot camp Lynn joined me in Illinois at that place affectionately referred to as “The Great Mistakes by the Lakes”  or Naval Stations Great Lakes and we waited for the birth of our third daughter Rebekah.   Only one of two “yankee born” children. (no Maryland and Kentucky are not in the north, both are south of the Mason-Dixon line thank you very much).


Dorothy_Sarah_Rebekah.jpgEarly Childhood
:  Her early childhood was somewhat of a blur most of the time because we were moving every 6 to 9 months and I was working very long hours and strange hours.  (Maybe that is the reason there are so few pictures of her as a baby, not that she ever noticed that fact).  Anyway, she was less than a year old when we learned her devious nature.  While living in Navy housing in Orlando, Lynn was distraught by the fact that here two good natured little toddlers kept climbing into the playpen and attacking their little sister.  Discipline was stiff, but daily she was having to be rescued from her ogre sisters. Then … one day … Mommy finally saw it in the reflection of the sliding glass door.  Her innocent little child stood up in the playpen, reached out, grabbed her sisters hair, yanked and then immediately sat down, thumb in mouth,  like nothing happened.

RebekahElementary Years: She was always quiet and shy in public.  My sister called her Little Cindy Lou Who because of the way she always looked so shy and innocent with her thumb in her mouth and her index finger twirling her hair. School brought on great amounts of anxiety.  Although she was actually a pretty high achiever, areas in which she struggled brought many tears. (As did not having her hair done quite right)

C & BAlthough she was a bit timid, she was not weak by any means.  She developed a love for sports and was the first to play on an actual team and introduced us all to the beautiful game.  She was not much into the girly things and went through a phase were she and her brother Charles became best friends through of their love of sports.  Together they actually developed their love of all things UK while I was away at sea.  Maybe it has gone a little beyond fandom and they have indoctrinated their youngest brother into the ridiculousness that is Big Blue Nation.  (Could not be more proud)


Middle / High School:
  Rebekah ‘s life had always included being a “Navy Brat”.  As she entered her teen years, that all changed.  A family that had never had roots, suddenly was planted.  New friends, new experiences, even the extended family had changed since we were closer to Lynn’s family and my mother had just passed away.  It is amazing how change drives us to find our core values.

Youth Group with Stephen Blandino brought stability and direction. She began to develop a love for order and leadership.  Little by little she became less of a follower.  It was so awesome to watch her blossom into a confident young woman.

AwfulBut some things never change.  That little girl that pulled her sisters hair and acted all innocent … oh yeah … she was still there.  The most notorious practical joker in the family.  Her delight in scaring people (especially her mother) is a wonder to behold.  Her craftiness, patience, and skill even exceed my own.  Her evil cackles are spine chilling.

Speaking of evil … No one plays a better human video devil than Rebekah.  Her interpretation of an evil puppet master with her friend Kara as the puppet was creepy.  I am still bitter about the score they were given at the fine arts festival.  That was one of the best performances I have seen.  Grrrhhhh!

FriendCollege & Beyond:  The once shy and timid little Cindy-Lou-Who was no more.  Once away at school, this little girl began to “live deep and suck the marrow out of life”.  She threw herself into college life and made the best of the community living out her passion for communication and leadership.  She developed a personal walk with the Lord that is inspiring.  She has developed a wisdom that allows her to be a real friend and be compassionate and yet speak tough love.

She can be serious one moment and having you dying in stitches the next.  I will never forget the one production she was in while in college.  She played a very strange character and made me laugh so hard just by taking a bite out of a cucumber.  She has poured in the lives of her siblings in ways that they do not even know.

Dad & BWriting about Rebekah (or Aunt “B” as she is now affectionately known),  is very difficult for me.  Although she me may not like it, she is the child that is most like me which makes writing about her is sort of uncomfortable.  I am not sure that I have ever been this jointed in my writing.  Every time I start to write something, something else pops into my head.  I think that Romans 12 describes well the woman that  Rebekah has grown into. She is the epitomy the word ‘friend’.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. ” (Romans 12:9-15)
 I will close it out with this … I am honored to not only call Rebekah daughter but also my friend  I love you sweetie.

Pressing On – A Letter to My Youngest Son on the Occasion of His Graduation from High School

First let me preface my letter with a word about all of my children.  For 31 years, Lynn and I have lived a life that has centered, for the most part, around our children.  At times, having a large family has stretched us close the breaking point.  Not because of them, but mostly due to our own weaknesses and shortcomings.  As a Navy family with for a significant number of those years, finances and time together were not optimum conditions for raising a large family. Still, we had raised a loving a family that has endured many trials.  Each of our children are unique, talented and caring.  I am proud of everyone of them and have never expressed it well.  Over the last year or so I have been trying to right that ship through blog entries on their birthdays, but my inconsistent nature has tripped me up a few times.  So I am pressing on.  I missed Josiah’s birthday so I figure a graduation is a great time to reflect. (C, R, & E I have not forgotten you)  Being the last at home, this is not only a graduation for him, but it is a graduation of sorts for Lynn and I as well.

Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:1,2)

Josiah,

01_JTF_NewbornThe Year of Your Birth:  1996 marked events that would change my life for ever. The year started stress-fully enough with your eminent birth in January.  I had never missed the birth of one of our children, but it was not looking good. I was preparing to head out to sea for 3 months and you were fighting hard against being born in a timely fashion.  Although I missed our shakedown trials, we were able to coerce you into entering the world before I left for sea. My little 3 month voyage was cut short by maybe the saddest event in my life.  My Mom, your Grandma, passed away that spring. Grandma would have adored you and I wish you could have gotten to know her.  She would have been so proud of all your accomplishments, your drive to succeed and she would have learned to love soccer. (yes, you missed out the best clothing provider ever)  07_JTF_Cats I do not think that it was a coincidence that the Cats won their sixth national championship the year you were born.  They must have known that a rabid Cat fan had entered BBN that January.  I have enjoyed sharing your love for the Cats with you these 18 years

FamilyFamily:  You are the youngest of 7 siblings and no child could ever have been more loved by his brothers and sisters.  This made parenting easy with so many older sisters and brothers to help out.   Your three oldest sisters were there at your birth and became surrogate mothers for you as a baby and I think still feel that way at times now.  You always shared a special bond with the youngest of your four sisters.  In our need to classify the  family it was always “The girls”, “The boys” and “Lizzy and Josiah”.  You started public school together and shared all of those struggles together.  Your brothers (and Rebekah) made sure that you did not forget that you were a boy and instilled a love for competition and sport in your being. As they slowly drifted out of the house, it was painfully obvious how much you missed them and how much you valued your family.

“And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.” (2 Kings 23:3)

graduationSchool:  In fifth grade, after being home schooled for your entire life, you entered public school for the first time.  After being surrounded by siblings for ten years, you had to enter a new world without them.  you were terrified, but overcame your fear to excel at every turn.  It was the first that we observed of your steeled determination. As the years went on, we watched as you worked hard to prove yourself academically.  You never had to be reminded to study or do your homework.  Failure was never an option and although at times you struggled, you always conquered the tasks set before you.  To be accepted at every college that you applied is no small feat.

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First Soccer Game

Soccer:  Watching your soccer career has been one of the most enjoyable and yet painful periods of my parenting.  To watch you overcome physical and mental challenges as well as major disappointments has been an inspiration for me.

It is not your accomplishments that have filled me with pride, but your diligence and persistence that make me such a proud Papa.

Josiah’s Highlight Video (Musically Enhanced by Switchfoot)

The Future:I could not be more proud of the man that you have become.  You have brought joy into my life that I did not know I could feel.  I look forward to watching you strive for the dreams that are before you.  Your love for your Savior is apparent in everything that you do and for that no father could be more proud .

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 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” (2 Kings 23:25)

 

I love you more than you will ever know.

Dad

Here am I … Sam I am

Sam & Sarah KissLynn and I stood on across town on Hampton Blvd in Norfolk after another post-due-date prenatal visit.  Since this was our fifth overdue pregnancy, we were not really surprised.  It was a nice day and we could not get hold of our ride, but we new her route so we decided to start walk toward the house.  5 miles later, we finally got that expected ride.  The following day, with Lynn exhausted and in pain from our little stroll, Sam decided to grace us with his presence.

9 days later we were back in the hospital.  Spinal taps, little baby IVs and sleepless nights, oxygen tents and quarantine.  (Maybe this is where he got his love for camping)  Sarah had had some health issues, but Sam was trying to catch up quick.  Turned out to be RSV (A relatively new diagnosis back in that day).  This began two years of non-stop ear infections, respiratory issues and camping at the clinic.  Good thing he was the only sick child … oh wait … there were four others, including the also plague ridden May baby Sarah.

Sick child equates to miserable pitiful bed ridden child …NOT!  Sam was everywhere and into everything. He was Ninja (mysteriously appeared on top of the refrigerator) and a miniature mechanic (Removed every nut and bolt from my wheel barrow without it falling apart … until I went to use it). He was a good natured little boy, but pretty non-verbal and hard headed.  He seemed to not listen to a word you said … unless he was looking at you. Wait could that be a symptom of something?

Sam i amSam – I – Am.  At two years old, it was finally decided that antibiotics were not the answer to these constant ear infections.  Let’s try tubes.  Did I say non-verbal. Overnight he went from non-verbal to very verbal.  Enter Green, Eggs & Ham.  If you would like … I can quote the whole book to you right now.  If you asked Sam his name, was Sam-I-Am.   Am would talk non-stop for hours.  He did not really care if you listened or not.  I am not sure if liked to talk or just liked to here himself since for so long he could not.

Silence of the Sam: As much as one might think that the constant noise would be a problem, it probably saved his life on occasion, because when the noise stopped, we knew that there was a problem… the silent alarm.  Silence in the back yard – the shed is on fire.  Silence in the living room – crayons in the VCR.  Silence on the stairs – beautiful pictures on the wall.  You get the picture.  We loved Sam’s voice.

The ears were better, but the lungs were not quite right.  After another hospital stay, the doctors finally concluded at age 4 that Sam was asthmatic.  So this non-stop little boy was forced to succumb to the nebulizer several times a day. Five or ten minutes might seem like a short period of time, but to Sam it was an eternity.  He had had about enough.

Faith of a child: In 1994, shortly after moving to Georgia, we were attending a Sunday evening service at church.  Pastor Jim asked if anyone wanted to be prayed to be healed.  Before we knew it, Sam had jumped out of his seat and run up to the alter.  He told Pastor Jim that he was tired of having asthma and wanted it gone.  Prayer was given, prayer was received, asthma … gone.  Coincidence … change of climate … or the faith of a small boy believing in a big God.  All I can say is that we have a nebulizer in the attic that has not been used since that day.

“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:11,12)

Sam & MalakaiServant: Born with a servants heart, same has always wanted to be a helper.  From the nursery (when he was in it), to JBQ, to youth group and missions trips to Nicaragua and Mexico, and now to the friends, Sam will often work for others and neglect even his own needs at times.  I have often been angered by those that have taken advantage of him and hurt him at times.  People have stretched him beyond his ability to give at times.  Obviously, saying ‘no’ is an option, but it is really not in his nature.  He is happiest when he is helping and feels a part of success.

If struggle makes us stronger, than my boy is strong beyond measure.  He has been fighting and overcoming from the day he was born.   I often envy his determination and drive to learn despite the many difficulties he has had to overcome.  His optimism, although often dampened by circumstances always shines through.  I look forward with great excitement to great things that are in store for this young man of God.

Sam & DadSam, you have been an encouragement to me for years.  God has used you to change me.  Your faith and enthusiasm have bolstered my own faith on many occasions.

I love you Bud and look forward to pressing on with you.

“Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge,and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken,but the feeble bind on strength.” (1 Sam 2:3,4)

“And the Lordcame and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”( 1 Sam 3:10)

“God has made laughter for me” – Sarah

Sarah Funny FaceAnd Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” (Gen 21:6)

When Sarah was about eleven years old, I was walking through our kitchen in Georgia when suddenly, I was soaking wet.  An evil little young lady had drenched me with the hand sprayer from the kitchen sink … I was so proud!  Knowing full well that she would pay, she counted the cost and determined that it was worth the risk.  Finally, I had not only children to terrorize, but I had a nemesis and ally in one.  One without fear.

“Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” (1 Peter 3:6)

Sarah Renee’ has been “different” from the start. A month late, and after a difficult labor, the doctor scared us when he checked Lynn and got a concerned look on his face and stated there are two … (pause) … cheeks. (everybody is a comedian).  Yes, , she backed into the world just like her father … butt first.  A head full of black hair that stood straight out and a peculiar, frog-like sleeping position, we knew that she was going to be different. After being nearly drowned in her crib by an overflowing sink in the apartment up stairs we decided that she was destined for an amphibious life so I enlisted in the Navy.

From the beginning, she has loved people. Everywhere we went she made friends easily, but always found that one intimate relationship.

  • Norfolk,VA – Savannah: Savannah was very important in fostering some of her more critical virtues … a love of football and more importantly a love for the Redskins.
  • Sarah & SarahSt Marys GA – SarahTucker (Yes … one word in our house. Sarah Lutz is not one word, but is more complete):  Sarah Elizabeth was more than a friend … she was a sister and a cohort.  There were very few days while we lived in St. Marys that the “Sarahs” were separated. Out of this relationship, God began to develop a love of worship. Through dance and music, these two began to feel God’s pleasure moving through them.
  • Sarah LynsayLexington, KY – Lynsay: On my desk in front of me sits a picture of my children from Sarah’s early adult years and it is appropriate that Lynsay is included.  Sarah and Lynsay became women together (Sorry Lynz, but it is true).  High school, missions trips, work, boys … they shared all of the joys and pains associated with making this huge jump.

(This week the wedding dress is on the other sister … exciting)

As a baby, Sarah had a special affection towards men.  She really did not want to be held by women (except mommy).  Although she always had some close friends that were guys, (Gus, Ben, Eric..), her real friendships were always her girls … until Michael.  I have spent enough time writing on that subject previously and let’s just leave it at “he was the one and only” (and he was in that same family photo)

One would think that from my description of Sarah that life has been a piece of cake.  Both of our May babies (Sarah and Sam) were afflicted with less than normal long function when little.  (It took some time for Sarah’s amphibious gills to develop into fully functioning lungs).  Sarah had a volume I and volume II of her dependent medical record. For years we cycled been in and out of the pediatric clinic, but on Christmas morning of 1996, I carried Sarah into the ER for what would turn out to be a two week hospital stay.  God showed grace to us and allowed us to bring her home and decided that we it was time to replace that gill with a lung and her days of inferior lung function were over.

The teen years brought the beginnings of a more mature and independent young lady.  At 15 she started working, learned to drive (including a stick shift), got her own cell phone, and started dating (much to my displeasure). 16 brought a license and more independence. Although I knew that this was the natural way of things and that this what Lynn and I had raised our children to do, it was hard to become less a part of that life.  We watched as she bought her first car (and then her first bee-induced wreck).

Sarah  LauraWe watched stress begin to take hold as she struggled on balancing relationships, college and a full time job.  We ached as we saw her wearing out.  When our little girl who had always been defined by joy was losing her identity, we knew that a Sabbath was in order.   So it was agreed that she would head to the place of her birth and some quality time with my baby sister.  God was faithful and in time was able to bring restoration and joy.

Cain FamilyAt Sarah’s wedding, I spoke of Sarah’s heritage and that she comes from a line of women with hearts that champion broken people.  My baby girl has taken the baton from these ladies and is running the race with joy.   A father may think that he wants his children to be successful, but success without joy is not success.  Glance through Sarah’s photos and blog and you will see a woman who cherishes joy and desires above all else to share that joy with you.  http://littlecains.blogspot.com/

_M & SNow … she is no longer a “young adult” … but full fledged 30 year old adult.  Year 29 has brought a year of struggle and change.  She moved back to KY to be near family while trying her hand a single parenting of three very active preschoolers as Michael took a long “vacation” to the mountain regions of Afghanistan.  Anyone who thinks that the military wife is any less heroic than the one that is deployed is gravely mistaken.  Sarah … following in the footsteps of her awesome Mom, not only taking over the Dad duties, but doing it while missing the one who God provided to complete her, support her. and love her.  Add to that the stress involved with having her lover in harms way and you have a lady that defines heroism.  I am proud beyond measure of this woman of God.

Happy Birthday Sweetie.

 

30 Years with My Bride – Pearl of Great Price

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,  who, on finding  one pearl of great value,  went and sold all that he had and  bought it.”    

Wedding Bride & Lynnie30 years ago, when Lynn’s father placed her hand in mine and we began a journey together I had no idea the treasure that he handed me.  20 and 21 years we had no idea what it meant to be a husband and wife team.  As fortune would have it, we were also blessed with the title of Mom and Dad for which we were equally unprepared.  So off we went, barreling into life to take on those responsibilities and burdens the best that we knew how.  Problem … our know-how was minuscule.

It did not take us long to realize that we were in over our heads.  Additionally, we began to realize that our childhood dreams and desires were going to as a minimum have to be put on hold.  I was not going to be the star athlete or the Pulitzer prize-winning author and she was not going to become studious accountant or powerful tax lawyer.  We were going to need to be parents first.  Oh and with little or no resources.

Rough Start

We became adept at digging ourselves a deeper hole to live.  We realized that our only real common dream was those children that we were pretty good and making and raising.  If it were not for that crazy money thing!  I thought I had found a career path in food management, but my inability to be responsible, my lack of discipline, and my first real dealings with greed, selfishness, and pride sort of nixed that direction.  In the midst of this … enter Sarah. God proved faithful though, Lynn despite all odds did not give up on me, and we survived the first two years somehow.

Anchors Away

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My First Command was the USS Albany in new construction.  Long hours but home almost everyday.  Lynn and I started to develop to actually get to know each other after 5 years of being married.  I learned of her tender heart for hurting and struggling people, her ability to listen and discern, and her ability to wisely intercede in difficult situation.  I began to notice that she was learning to be an advocate for young mother even though she was a young mother herself  (already more experienced than most).  She was a rock even when we things were not going well. Although we were more stable, we (I) continued to make poor financial decisions, avoided as much responsibility as possible … basically “I was tossed about by every wind”.  Despite this, Lynn and I began to become a pretty good team.  (Enter Sam)

My second command .. Detailer: “we are going to send you to the USS LY Spear.  They call it the L.Y. Pier because it never goes to sea.”  Orders: “Report to USS L.Y. Spear, deployed Bahrain (Persian Gulf).”  So our first real separation.  We survived those months apart and when I returned, hours were better, I was enjoying success at work, the kids were doing well and we were coasting. Then … we had to walk through sorrow together.  We lost our first child in a miscarriage and followed by the loss of our 3rd son Andrew Cory in a still birth.  This was more than my Lynnie could handle alone and for the first time we really had lean on each other and began to lean on the Lord.  God saw us through even that difficult time, but I felt that our time in Norfolk was coming to a close.  God showed His mercy and gave us Elizabeth and we began to feel like life might be able to move on.  Time for new orders.

In October of 1993, I climbed in my little blue Subaru, I left for Kingsbay, GA and left Lynn and the kids in GA while waiting for housing and hoping for the house VA to be sold.  Before I was even out of VA, I had cried out to God to give me new start. He met me heard me.  For the next few months, with the help of an awesome new church family and an open heart, God poured out His grace on me and I earnestly sought for God to bond Lynn and I in a new way.  For 10 years, although I was there, I had poured very little into my marriage.  I had never treated Lynn with the love and respect that I had pledged in 1983.

When she arrived in December, we began a new partnership.  We grew together and began to reach out to other families.  Don’t get me wrong, we still were and are a mess. We were just a mess together and we were actually enjoying each other for the first time.  We grew in the Lord, we grew as a couple, and we grew as a family. Lynn took on the herculean effort of homeschooling our brood. We saw God’s hand move in mighty ways through and too us. Life was as good as it had ever been.

Jumping Ship / A Parting Shot

After a couple of years, things started to change.  Another miscarriage, friends started to move away, our girls were becoming teens, and we were facing guaranteed extended sea time began to weigh us down. Lynn and I made the decision to start a new life apart from the Navy (unless they would send us to Hawaii … fat chance!), but we would have to make it through a couple of years of deployments.  They would not prove to be an easy couple of years.

My deployment in January of 1996 would prove to be an abbreviated and painful deployment.  I joyfully missed our shake down cruise with the arrival of Josiah and then we shoved off for patrol.  Mid patrol I was called to the CO’s stateroom.  A day later I was off the ship and on my way home to say good-bye to my Mom, loosing her battle with cancer.  Life was not going to be the same.

Two more times I had to leave my family before my end of active duty rolled around. So life was going to start over for us on the other side of the Navy.

Loss Upon Loss – The Cloud

DSC_0016Even though these are more recent memories, they are vague to me.  July 31st, 1997 I took off my uniform for the last time and headed to Kentucky with hopes of finding employment in the nuclear industry.  Bad timing and poor job hunting skills made this a difficult prospect.  Add to that severe depression that had begun to settle on me after the loss of my Mom, the loss of our house in VA and increasing debt.   I am only beginning to realized the effects that depression had on me for the next 12 years. We began to live life that I can only describe as a life of poverty.  I don’t mean that in a financial sense although we have struggled financially.  Poverty is a mindset of despair that allows us to reject the abundant life that is available to us despite our lack of worldly possessions.  Throw into this the final realization that I was getting older and that many of those dreams that I had hung onto were no longer within reach and you have a man that is on the precipice.   I am only beginning to realized the effects that depression had on me for the next 12 years. It is only through God’s grace and an amazing women that our marriage has survived.   As with any depression, there are highs and lows and we had many of both and we apparently hid it from most everyone outside our family (as far as I can tell).

She Abides

Recently, a group of guys have taken on a challenge of reading 1 John ever day for 30 days.  One of the questions that came out early is about abiding.   What does it love like when some one abides with someone else?

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:11,12 ESV)

Lynn has been an example of loving me for 30 years.  I did not earn that love and even rejected that love at times., but still she walked beside me through the worst, but with an expectation for the best. She has believed in me when I did not believe in myself.  My failures did not appear to dim her love light toward me.  I think that this what happens when He abides in us and His love is perfected.  For 3 decades she has abided with me even when I was blind to it.

How Beautiful is Your Love

“You have captivated my heart, my  sister, my bride;

you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes,

with one  jewel of your necklace.

How beautiful is your love, my  sister, my bride!

How much  better is your love than wine,

and  the fragrance of your oils than any spice!”

(Song of Solomon 4:9,10)

I thank God everyday for the pearl that He placed in my hand 30 years ago.

Happy anniversary my love.

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Just a glimpse – Marriage of the Lamb

This is the first of several posts I will be posting today for my bride of 30 years.

LynnChuck&Dot

Fortunately, God likes those odds.  We had recently become Christians although we really did not know what that meant.  At times, we would actually do everything we could to shipwreck our faith and our marriage, but God had other plans for us. Over the past 30 years we have not always been faithful stewards of the gift that we were given as a couple, but there was One that has always been faithful and strengthened us when we were week, healed us when we were hurt, brought us home when we were lost, and brought knit our hearts together with His love.

LynnChuckGlassMany, many times through the years, God has quickened this song in my heart that was song at our wedding and it has encouraged me and strengthened me though the years.  It has never been recorded except for on a little cassette tape that is barely audible.  I contacted the writer and he graciously sent me the lyrics and music.  I hope to have someone someday record it.

I will share the lyrics here with you in honor of the One that is always faithful.

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Grafting of the Family Tree _ Michael

I have a backlog of half written blog drafts.  So it appears that my blog is going to be confined to paying homage to the one’s most dear to me for a while.

Grafted_blossoming_tree_unidentified_white_pinkAs the father of seven wonderful children, obviously I have devoted a great deal of my adult life to cultivating the Farley family tree.  After many years of fertilizing (pretty good at that by the way), watering, pruning, and protecting God has blessed Lynn and I with a wonderful topiary.  As awesome as the path has been, we could not continue this endeavor forever. Fortunately, God had a plan for that.  Grafting!

Unbeknownst to me, the Ichthus Festival (christian music festival/teenage garden center) would bring a multi-colored … spike haired, zebra like stick into the life of our second branch Sarah. Pre-Michael Sarah (PMS) was a country music hating prissy little princess.  Somehow the rapid climate changes of Ichthus (Dust, heat, rain, frost …) over three days altered her DNA somehow.  Country music, demolition derbies, county fairs, truck & tractor pulls suddenly became a natural part of her life.

Me and MichaelMy relationship with Michael … grew mostly out of his uncanny ability to show up right at meal time.  As we all know, christian fellowship revolves around food and Michael wanted to make sure that our relationship was grounded in our mutual faith.  Additionally, he understood the importance of resting in the Lord and would consequently fall asleep on the couch at every opportunity.  He always new his purpose in those times of fellowship and proved his faithfulness by never showing up without a bag of ice.

MantleI will always count it a special day when Michael asked for Sarah’s hand in marriage.  Good has shown Lynn and I a great deal of favor by providing a warm, loving, hard working, fun loving, man of God to care for our Sarah.  On the day they were married, there was no doubt that God had seen fit to continue adding to our tree in a wondrous way. He gladly accepted the mantle of gardener that I placed upon him that day.  He has shown himself to be a faithful husband and loving father.  I am honored to call him a son and coworker in the family tree business.

Happy Birthday Michael.

Three Decades with God’s Gift

Dorothy Mommy & Daddy

Kneeling on the floor or labor room bathroom, I cried out to God.

Having never experienced the “Joy of Childbirth” as our birthing classes were called, I was terrified.  Lynn’s water had broken about 19 hours ago, Pitocin had been administered shortly after to “help” things along so we had been in hard labor for a long time, but things were not progressing.  The fetal monitors were beginning to indicate some distress.  Doctors having whispered discussions just out of earshot cannot be a good thing.

So on the floor I went, pleading that God would intervene and bring Lynn and our new baby through this safely.

The doctors came in to let us know that they were preparing for a C-section.  Lynn was not really paying attention because she suddenly entered into a stage of labor that I would become quite familiar with over the next 13 years … they label it simply, transition.  A quick check and then off to the delivery room.  20 minutes and 2 pushes later, I was holding my baby girl,  Dorothy – Gift of God.

“He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:2)

 

Through this little girl, I would learn about God’s heart.  Yes, there is the discovery of the tremendous amount of love that we as parents feel for our children and yes, I never knew that I could love like that.  We have all heard all of that before and I am not in anyway unique in that experience.  The lessons in love that I am talking about were and are poured out from God through this little girl.

From the beginning, she was sensitive to the feeling of others. Gifted to feel the pain and hurts of others, she strove to bring joy to others.  Always eager to please, she reached out to everyone often making friends quickly.  Unfortunately, sensitivity and an over-developed need to make others happy often makes people uncomfortable.  So close relationship did not always come easily.  It took me many years of witnessing her struggles and tears  to understand that God was allowing me to see a glimpse of His love through my precious

little girl.  Even now, I am just learning about how many times I have rejected His love just like so many turn us away when we reach out to them.

Dorothy & Daddy

What an honor it has been to watch that little girl grow into the beautiful, intelligent, witty (all be it nerdy), and sensitive young woman of God that she has become.  You were the perfect gift delivered at just the right time to a young Mom & Dad that needed to learn how to love.  Now that you are “coming of age” I look forward to watching you share this gift with a world that so needs to know that love.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl,

Daddy

Ava & Lily – Worship of the Birds and Flowers


I learned worship from my little girls, Ava and Lilie’s Mamma and sisters.  Worship is more than sound and motion, it is a heart that is filled with adoration; filled to overflowing, filled beyond our ability to contain it, filled to a point that our only natural recourse is to let it out.

Although I do not get to spend much time with our little Ava (the little bird) and Lily (the little flower), I can see that God has blessed them with the same gift that Sarah and her sisters shared with their Daddy so long ago; drinking in the Father’s love and then pouring it out with joy.

Happy birthday little ones.  May God bless you both with all of the joy that comes with being daughters of The King.  May He fill you with the Joy and Peace that follow those who adore Him. May He bless you with abilities to match that heart of worship so that others may be drawn to Him.

Love You Both,

Poopaw

Birds & Flowers

Sun’s first rays
Peeking into the room,
Song birds,
Chirping and whistling their song
Joy at the break of day
They could not speak
But I listened
And knew peace.

Sun’s first rays
Peeking into the room,
Baby girls,
Cooing and singing their song
Joy at the break of day
They could not speak
But I listened
And knew peace.

Gentle breezes
Pushing billowing clouds,
Wild flowers,
Swaying in their beautiful dresses
Dancing for joy in the sunlight
They did not know
But I watched
And knew joy.

Gentle breezes
Pushing billowing clouds,
Little girls,
Swaying in their beautiful dresses
Dancing for joy in the sunlight
They did not know

Ava & Lily 3