At The End Of The Day We Are Family

Storge 1

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.”-Psalm 127:3*

In keeping with the “love” theme this month, I am exploring the storge love.  Storge is the Greek word which relates to natural, familial love such as the love between a parent and child. This type of love is not mentioned directly in the Bible, but in the new testament the negative form of this word, astorgos,  is used twice. **

I grew up in a typical middle-class family in the sixties and seventies.  My dad was an engineer with a major oil and gas company and mom was a homemaker.  Growing up we spent more time with mom as she volunteered at our school, took us to dance, made our costumes, and toted us around while running errands and shopping.  When it came to discipline, I remember mom yelling at us or sending us to our room, and I don’t remember the “wait till your father gets home” line ever being used.  There was a kind of awed respect or healthy fear in me which knew never to push the envelope too far with mom because she might get dad involved.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I was not beaten or verbally abused as a child.  There was this mysterious aspect to my dad and perhaps it was because he was away more than at home with us.  Perhaps it was his deep voice and when he spoke louder it rumbled through the room.  Or perhaps it was because he was larger than life and could fix any problem. For all of these reasons is why I was certain not to have mom engage dad in any discipline issues.

My father was not overly affectionate with me as I was growing up, but every once in a while, he would hug me or tell me he was proud of something I did.  As we both grew older, dad was more loving in his actions and words which encouraged me to reciprocate.

I would seek his approval for the rest of our lives.  Disappointing dad was far worse than any other form of punishment and there were a few times I accomplished this task.

I decided to get married at age nineteen before finishing college.  Dad said he would no longer pay for my college if we were going to make such a grown-up decision.  Education was everything to my dad and he thought once I stopped going full time, I would never go back.  I had to prove to him I would get my degree.

And I did.  It took me eight years but I did it.  I invited my parents to my graduation where I would walk across the stage.  They both were so proud of me and I could see tears in my dad’s eyes.  I knew the disappointment had been erased from his memory.

When Scott died in 2001, my parents were the first ones to come be with me.  We were all in shock and I asked them to assist me with the funeral arrangements.  I decided to buy dual plots for both Scott and me and my dad was almost panicked by my choice.  “You are so young and you don’t know what the future holds for you, I think buying your burial plot next to Scott’s is not necessary,” he said.  I don’t think he was disappointed as much as profoundly saddened on me making such a final decision.

I was reminded this weekend by my mom of how disappointed she and dad were in Randy and me for not inviting family to our wedding in 2005.  For personal reasons, we decided to keep it an extremely low key and not invite our family members.  We thought we were doing a favor for everyone and sparing them the cost of travel and lodging.  Instead, our family felt left out and was disheartened by our decision. My dad never mentioned this to me.

Through the years my dad became more affectionate and would hug me, tell me he loved me, and sometimes get weepy when our visits came to an end.  It became extremely important to him for the family to get together, take pictures, and make memories.  As we gathered around him in his final hours, he could not verbalize his feelings, but we could feel his love and knew he was proud of all of our achievements and decisions.

This is storge love.

Where parents love their children, regardless of their faults and the disappointments they will bring about.  In my family, there were accolades, achievements, disappointments, and failures.  But at the end of my dad’s life, we knew he had forgotten the negative occurrences and was pleased with our family and how we rally around, lift up, respect and love one another.  I pray this will be my dad’s legacy for the future generations of our family.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.gotquestions.org/storge-love.html

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Thank You For Being A Friend

Phileo

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs”.-1 Corinthians 13:4-5*

Can I be real?  I don’t have a best friend.

Am I alone here?

If I had to label someone my best friend it would be my husband and my family.  Please don’t feel sorry for me because I do have friends.  People I love and I would do anything to help them if they were in need.  I would consider all the individuals my inner circle allies as I love them for their grace, humor, reliance, and support.

This type of love is known as phileo love.  It comes from the Greek word “philia” or “philos” which means friendship and dear.  It also means a friendly feeling toward another.  This type of love refers to brotherly love or close friendship.** I feel this way about my inner circle peeps.

What defines friendship to me is someone who knows the real me (transparency) and still wants to maintain a relationship with me.  I also feel the same way about them.  I have several people in my life which fit this description and consider them my friends.  I truly don’t have one person favored over any of the others.

My friends are forgiving of me when I goof up and I can reciprocate forgiveness if needed.  These same friends can call me out when necessary and I will do the same for them.  The most comforting notion is my friends are dependable when I need them.  I want to deliver the same response to them when they need me.

Another interesting tidbit about my friends is sometimes they are with me in a season for a reason.  There have been people who have entered my life with a bang and after a period of time, they have slowly disappeared like a vapor.  I believe God brought us together for a specific cause and when the resolution was complete, it was time for us to move in our different directions.  I totally accept this truth and am content with the wonderful memories we made and try to keep in touch (kudos for social media!).

It is kind of cool how God made us relational beings and created different type of kinships for us to experience.   I am so thankful for feeling free to have a multitude of friends and not worry or be envious if I am not considered someone’s best friend.  I would hope a pal of mine knows they could rely on me to listen, be a confidant, ask a favor, or ask me to pray for them.  God has helped me broaden my friend base and blessed me with a diverse crowd of people who have opened my eyes to different thoughts, opinions, and cultures.  It gives me the opportunity to learn more about my spiritual gifts and how He uses me to bless others.   As mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, the scripture talks of the truth about love.  To be patient and kind and to put others feelings and needs before our own.  When we love others we should honor them and not keep score of ways they may have wronged us.  This this is what I want my circle to do for me.  And this my friends, is why I love you.

Blessings

colourful-hearts

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

Are There Different Types of Love?

Are there different types of love_

Summer is officially here, WOO HOO!  I love the summer but around September I am ready for some cool breezes in our southern Louisiana neck of the woods.  This month I am focusing on the word “love” as part of my Devotion 2018.  What a great word but sometimes I tend to use it rather loosely in describing my feelings about a particular mood, event, or activity.  For example, when I wrote the second sentence, I used the word “love” to show how much I care for summer.  Do I truly LOVE summer?

This month I will explore the different types of love which are referenced in the bible; eros, phileo, storge, and agape *.  In honor of our marriage, thirteen years ago this month, I have decided to start with eros.  Happy Anniversary Randy!

As defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary “Eros is named after the Greek god of erotic love and conceived by Plato as a fundamental creative impulse having a sensual element: erotic love or desire”.**

 “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper as his complement’.”-Genesis 2:18***

Speaking on behalf of my own experiences, I am so thankful for God’s design for this type of love.  I LOVE the fact I can look at my husband, my heart flutters and my cheeks flush because I am physically attracted to him.  God longs for us to experience this level of intimacy in a marriage where we are committed to each other.  There are definitely ups and downs in a marriage, but if we focus on one another’s needs instead of our own, the marriage is enhanced by the unselfish acts of one another.

“Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and one of mind.”-Philippians 2:2***

I have discovered in lifting up my husband EVERY DAY in prayer, asking for the blessings to be given to him, I also receive the blessings.  I want the best for him and as his supportive partner, I lift him and his needs up before mine every chance I get.  Over time I have learned to appreciate his awesome qualities and not dwell on his irritating habits or opinions (Yes, I know, I have habits and opinions indeed!)  This is the man who I will spend the rest of my life with and I want to fall in love with him every day.

When some of those habits and opinions of Randy’s make an appearance, I take it to God in prayer and I ask Him to change ME, not focus on changing Randy.  Change my heart and my view and see it from Randy’s perspective.  Some opinions take more prayer than others but God is working on me to change my viewpoint.

“Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves”.-Romans 12:10***

An integral part of passion and intimacy in our relationship is the commitment Randy and I have to our marriage.  I am not saying our marriage is perfect, but we believe God brought us together and look to Him in all circumstances in our lives; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We put God in our marriage to guide us through our union forever until death do us part. We trust in God and we trust each other.

“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing in value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life”.-Proverbs 31:11-12***   

God designed this type of love for husbands and wives to interact in an experience of the heart, mind, body, and soul with each other.  Yes, there is sex (I hear my children groaning right now) Emojibut this is only a part of the erotic love in a marriage.  The complete recipe calls for the combination of desire, commitment, engagement, communication, and selflessness.  I look forward to celebrating our eros love for years to come, Randy!

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”.-Matthew 19:6***  

 

*https://www.gotquestions.org/

**The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

***https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Eros

A Physical Move In My Faith Walk

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“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”-Hebrews 11:1*

I sat there in total disbelief.  I knew I had heard God right, but it bore repeating to my heart again.  “Move, God?  Are you sure?”

It was 2008 and we had been married for three years.  During these first few years, Randy and I had a chaotic newlywed period.  He was a bachelor and at age forty-three he married a widow with three children.  The oldest child, who was severely broken by her father’s death, had been a challenge for the first years of the marriage with drugs, running away, and inappropriate behavior.   The middle son was a growing teenage boy who needed assurance, guidance, and direction.  And the youngest boy was open for an adventure.  We also had suffered some losses of family members and Randy’s job and now this.  Both Randy’s father and sister had serious health issues and we lived over four hundred miles away.

I knew what God was asking and I had a peace about it, so I shared it with Randy.  He was stunned by the suggestion, but after a little time to reflect, we did it.  Keep in mind there were many challenges in moving from Coppell, Texas to Mandeville, Louisiana.  But when God is in charge all the pieces fall into place.

Randy found a job immediately.  We put our house on the market in Texas (during a real estate downturn) and sold it quickly at the asking price.  Our middle son was a freshman in high school and loved his football.  We agreed Randy would move down to Louisiana, start his job, and find us a house.  I would stay behind with the children until after football season.  Randy found our house and we bought it with a counter offer.  The boys moved with us to Louisiana and our daughter stayed behind (she had met her future husband and was still working through some issues).  We were in Louisiana for six months and then we lost Randy’s dad and sister in May and June of 2009.

In looking back, one might ask, why would you make this huge life-changing decision?

It was SO much bigger than a physical move.

It was what God asked of us and we responded.  We put our faith in Him to make the way and give us the vision.  It was not always easy.  We had to be flexible in making new friends, learning a new area, and focusing on the boys’ transition into new schools. The process brought about laughter, tears, and sometimes anger.  It also benefited us as a family to bond together and tackle situations as a team.

We have been blessed for the ten years we have lived in Louisiana.  The people we have met, relationships built, new cultures experienced, new areas of the country explored, and the growth in our walk with Jesus.  Sometimes moving out of a comfort zone makes the zone bigger and the foundation stronger.

No regrets and no disappointment.

The physical transition opened up the reality which was we had moved in our faith.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

I Want To Be Faithful In Forgiving Others

 

I Want To Be Faithful In Forgiving Others

The Bickham Family 1978

 

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”-Colossians 3:13*

I am the oldest of four children who grew up in the seventies and eighties.  My sister and I were two and half years apart.  There was a seven-year void and then my two brothers were born roughly two and half years apart.  I followed the code of the oldest sibling and picked on my sister with all my ability.  My two baby brothers were cute and fun, so I cuddled, coddled, and took care of them.  I loved the era when I grew up; a time of innocence, dreams, and looking forward to the future.

Out of the four siblings, three of us still go home to our mom’s house, visit one another, make memories together, and watch our children grow up.  My sister has chosen not to participate in our lives.  You see, thirty-some years ago, my sister and dad had an argument over something near and dear to them (the rest of us can’t remember the details) and she chose to graduate from medical school and move up north to not be seen or heard from again.  Not totally true.  When my first husband, Scott, died she came back to Texas and made it clear to my parents, she was there to support me only during this difficult time.  This was the last time I saw my sister.  I have talked to her in the last few years on the phone and in e-mails.  While our grandparents died one by one and dad was sick and passed away, I kept her up to date.  Each time I reached out to her and asked, “Will you be at the funeral?” Her response was no, with an explanation.

The rest of my family is outraged by her lack of disregard for our family and rejecting involvement in our lives or us in hers.  I understand why the family is hurt and angered by her rejection, yet I am not angry with her.  Why?  Believe me, I have other people in my life who have pushed me over the edge and I have spent years trying to forgive them.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines forgive as “to cease to feel resentment against”.  I know when someone wrongs me there is resentment and sometimes it is deep, dark, and ugly.  So how do I dig out of the pain and absolve it?  I want to share three truths I have discovered in why I should forgive others.

  • GOD EXPECTS ME TO FORGIVE. My role model of authority expects me to live by the same standards He demonstrates.  God has forgiven us for our sin by the blood of Jesus.  When I accept this truth I need to be as forgiving as my Father.  Every time.  I can’t pick and choose who I want to forgive.
  • I AM NOT THE JUDGE. It is not my place to decide if someone is worthy of my forgiveness.  They are PERIOD.  This is where I have to ask God to change my heart towards a person and the situation and assist me in unburdening the hurt and accepting the healing of forgiving.
  • FORGIVING RELEASES ME FROM BONDAGE. When I am angry at someone, I feel like a casualty of hurt feelings and vengeful thoughts.   I don’t like the feeling of being a victim.  When I can forgive another person, it lightens my load and allows me not to participate in the angry, poor me, pity party.

I don’t have a magic answer and I know my family thinks I am crazier than a tornado chaser (which I would love to do), but I have reflected and prayed over this situation.  Grant it, I have not picked up the phone and tried to have an average conversation with my sister since our dad died over three years ago.  If she called me tomorrow and asked for bone marrow or a kidney, I would be there to give and assist her in a heartbeat.  I believe if I can forgive as God has forgiven me, the relationships which have been stunted due to my stubbornness of holding on to the resentment, can be changed.  Forgiving others can open new doors to relational opportunities and transform the makeup of our own inner circles.  I have a lot of forgiving left to do and hope my family, including my sister, can move towards peace and forgiveness in their own hearts.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

I Am Proud To Celebrate And Protect The Future

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“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!”-Matthew 25:21

Twenty-three miles.  Three days.  No, I did not participate in an official running marathon, but this was all the miles I walked in preparing and producing our high school’s Project Graduation party for the 2018 seniors.  Project Graduation started in Maine in 1980 through a state initiative to protect the lives of graduating seniors.  Unfortunately, the statistics for accidents and deaths of seniors as a result of partying on graduation night happen way too often.  Our community adopted Project Graduation to help keep our seniors safe and offer a night they can live to remember.

Our plan is to entertain over three hundred seniors who graduated at 7PM and arrived at the party facility around 10:30PM.  We check them in, store all of their valuables (no money or phones necessary!) and lock the doors.  Once inside, they stop momentarily and take it all in.  There is a DJ playing tunes, lights, a dance floor, inflatables, money machines, food, drinks, and prizes.  All night long they eat, play, win raffle tickets to put in the prize buckets to win refrigerators, TV’s, computers, gift cards, a bike, a kayak, and so much more!

I am the party director and it takes our board of directors all year long to prepare, fundraise, advertise, register, plan, and pull off a fun night for our seniors to remember forever.  The blood, sweat, tears, frustration, and excitement is all well worth it to see their faces and celebrate their successes for the night.

In reflecting on the last year of meetings, e-mails, announcements, follow-ups, and negotiations, I realize how I am a small part of this big production.  Because of the faithfulness to this cause which is important to parents, teachers, the school board, and businesses in our community, we can provide a safe environment for our children.  These same children, who are almost adults, can experience childlike fun safely and grow up and go forth and be the future of our world.

Faithful are the volunteers who give of their money, time, and talents to plan and execute the event.

Faithful are the businesses in our community who support financially with donations of items or discounts for services rendered.

Faithful is the high school which assists with promoting and communicating with the seniors and their parents.

Faithful are the seniors who work hard to complete assignments and tests in order to graduate.

Because of the faithful acts of so many contributors, we are able to protect our seniors from the dangers of wrong choices and bad decisions even if it is only for one night.  I hope the seniors realize how much we have faith in them.  Congratulations to all of the 2018 seniors!

How I Pinpointed and Matured In My Faith

How I Pinpointed And Matured In My Faith

“We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”-2 Corinthians 5:7-8*

This month, I am focusing on faithfulness as part of my study and reflection of my 2018 word “devotion”.    The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines faithful as “steadfast in affection or allegiance**.”  I decided in order to discuss faith or being faithful, I needed to ask the question, “When did I discover my faith?”

All people have faith and believe in some type of idea whether is it a religion, a concept, or a theory.  I believe in God as my father, Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and the Holy Spirit who is within me.  I am not here to pass judgment on those who don’t believe like I do but to give background on what defines my faith.

I grew up in a Methodist Church, baptized as an infant, attending services, Sunday school, confirmation classes, and church camp.  I loved the singing of hymns, the activities we did in Sunday school and going away to camp for a week.  When I completed my confirmation classes, I understood the personal relationship with Jesus and believed everything I was taught.  This is where the seed of faith had been planted.

I left for college at seventeen, and didn’t think about going to church or being involved for the first few months I was away from home.  Initially, I didn’t understand why I was feeling out of sorts and had this gnawing sensitivity inside me. A few more months passed and someone invited me to their church one Sunday morning.  As soon as I stepped into the worship area I felt a warm wave of love and peace wash over me.  I was home and it was well in my soul.  I did not make it back every Sunday, but when I did, my time spent in the church was a way to ground myself and re-center my priorities.

Scott and I married when I was nineteen at my home church.  We decided when we moved to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, we wanted to find a church for us.  Early on we visited different churches but would not commit to joining one.  I did pray daily and God answered me sometimes obviously and other times not so much.  I was faithful in keeping conversations open between us but felt guilty for not making my Christian walk more evident to others.

In early 2000, I was pregnant with my third child and a girlfriend invited us to her non-denominational church.  It was a new and exciting surprise because this church offered a Saturday night service which fit our lifestyle.  Scott and I dropped the two older children off in the age-appropriate children’s church and walked into the worship center, which sat about three thousand and it was packed!  We found my friend and sat down when all of the sudden the music team started playing a song from a famous rock band of the 60’s to open up the worship time.  This was the hook to catch your attention and prepare you for the series, which was about getting your groove back in worship.  I don’t remember the details of the pastor’s message but let me tell you, it made a huge impression on Scott.  He was excited about going back to church and joining due to this one visit.  In hindsight, I know God was presenting the opportunity for us to put skin in the game and plant ourselves in a church.  It gave us the little time we had left to build our relationships back with Christ and allow me to build the necessary connections in the church to support myself and the kids after Scott’s death.

Scott’s death was my pivotal point in recognizing and living out my faith.  I made a choice the night he died, to turn towards God and all He could afford me because losing Scott was unbelievable, unbearable, and unendurable.

The harder I leaned on God, the stronger the Holy Spirit uplifted me.

The more I left at the foot of Jesus, the more God provided for me through others.

The angrier I became at God and my situation, the more inner peace I experienced from the Holy Spirit.

I have constantly believed in my God.  In the last seventeen years, my belief has deepened into an unwavering faith and a personal relationship with Him.  I strive to learn more, pray more, serve more, and share more of my experience with others.   Someone once asked me, “What if you have spent your entire life worshiping, giving, and praying to God, and when you die you experience nothing.  Don’t you feel like it was wasted time?”

My answer is no.

If I spent all my time going to church and giving selflessly of my time and my money to others, I don’t consider it a waste of time. I have enjoyed all of these activities, improved my character, and helped those who are less fortunate.  My faith has been with me for a long time and becoming a part of a church family, learning wisdom from the Bible, and serving others has only deepened my commitment and devotion to God.    This life is full of challenges and blessings and I am content with the lessons I have learned.  I know how my faith started and continues to grow and mature with every day I am privileged to live out here on earth.   And I know where I am headed on the day my last breath leaves my lips because of my faithfulness in Him.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**www.merriam-webster.com

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