Saturday, November 28, 2015

Can These Dry Bones Live?

Being a “woman of a certain age” I often find myself evaluating my life. Have I done enough? Should I have done more? What’s next? Will my brows grow back? Ha! During one particular evaluation, I decided that I wanted to do more to empower myself and equip those around me with a more excellent way of life. So I went back to school and started a new job.
My new job leans heavily on teamwork. As the team leader, I am ultimately responsible for the overall success of my team. I cannot advance individually and we cannot advance as a team without everyone doing his or her part. While I love the notion of honing my leadership skills and motivating people to excellence, I am both excited and frustrated at the same time. I love watching the success of hard work, the visions and dreams that lead people to a better life, but I am also often frustrated with the complacency in mediocrity that allows others to remain in a daily struggle. Why do we dwell in a hopeless state of mind? Is there any way out?  It reminds me of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones.

In Ezekiel’s vision, he was in a valley of dry bones. God sat him down right in the midst so that he could see the bones all around him. The bible says that there were “very many of them in the open valley and they were very dry.” God asked Ezekiel if he thought the bones could live. If it were me, I would have shrugged, gave a side eye and neck roll, and said, Psh! Doubt it! (probably why I’m not a prophet, huh?) But Ezekiel left it to God, “O Lord God, you know.” It was at that point that God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. I can imagine his frustration in attempting to motivate people that did not want to be motivated, his struggle in trying to speak life to people who wanted to lie down and die, his anguish in striving to move people who were complacent in their current positions.

But God commanded Ezekiel the give the word of the Lord to the dry bones so that they may live.

Ezekiel obeyed God, and the dry bones came to life.

Friends, a lot is going on in our world today. Stress, frustration, disappointments, betrayals, and even the media can overwhelm us and cause us to wind up in a dry place. Toxic relationships and unfulfilled expectations can suck the life out of us and cause us to end up a mere shell of our former selves. Dry bones. In the midst of it all, I admonish you to speak the word of the Lord to the dry places of your life, allow it to saturate those dry bones and bring life.

Don’t give up on God. He has not given up on you. In Ezekiel 37:11-14, God assures Ezekiel that all hope is not lost because his Holy Spirit brings life. “I have opened your graves…..Then you shall know that I, the Lord have spoken it and performed it.”

Speak life.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Day My Daddy Died

My daddy died on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.

I don’t know if there is anything that could have ever prepared me for that phone call. My sister was screaming and crying hysterically. Even though I knew what it meant, my denial of the possibility still wanted to hear the words. “Come home, he’s code blue! Come home now!” I tried to calm her. I tried to be the “adult.” But I just was not prepared for her to say code blue. She hung up. I waited.

As I sat on the side of the bed, confused and alone, I had no one to call. I could only wait. My husband was unreachable, my children were in school. I was 300 miles away. My sister called back, “They revived him, come home.”  A text from my brother. “Come home. It ain’t looking good.” I began to weep. Still in denial, I text my mom, “Do I need to come?” Her response was simple and painful. “Yes.” I was frozen on my bedside with the phone in my hand. My dad had been hospitalized before, they had never told me to come home. My brother called, it was the highly educated, wise, personable, doctor that we had all liked and trusted throughout dad’s illness on the line. I listened intently: “Your father went into full cardiac arrest and we have had to shock him 9 times. We have added a stint and a valve which do not seem to be working. We do not expect him to live the next 30 minutes. Don’t rush to come home. Take your time.” “Okay, thank you,” I replied, and hung up the phone. I fell off my bed onto the floor and wailed. I cried until my head hurt. Then I called my brother back. “Get me in the room!” I demanded. Through modern technology, I was able to see my daddy’s face. I told him I loved him, and it was okay to go if God was calling him to do so.

My daddy did not die that day.

A stellar athlete in his youth, my dad loved the game of baseball. He had taught me all aspects of the game, but the most important was what he taught me about hitting. “Gal, don’t you EVER stand in that box without swinging that bat. You ALWAYS go down swinging!” My daddy went down swinging. He defied the odds of the medical field and baffled his doctor. He was lucid, conscious and talking off and on for 8 days after the doctor gave him 30 minutes to live. I made it to his bedside, and stayed in the hospital with him around the clock his last days on Earth. During that time, everyone that was important to him came to visit and say goodbye. He was weak, and heavily medicated, but he was himself. He made us laugh and ticked off his nurse. Classic daddy. There was a lot of singing and praying, hugs and kisses. He would drift in and out of consciousness, but as a fierce competitor, he would often ask me his condition. I would tell him he was doing good. “I’m doing good?” “Yes, daddy, you’re doing good.” “OK baby.” The day I left, he had been taken off all forms of life support. He was breathing on his own and his heart was beating on its own. As I walked out of the room to go back home, I told him I loved him and was proud of him.  He looked me in my eyes and said, “I love you too baby.” My father died 24 hours later.

My daddy went down swinging.

I am grateful to the Lord for allowing us those final precious days with my dad. Our family clung to every breath he took. We studied every movement and every gesture. We responded to every word he uttered, whether lucid or not. In those final days, God gave us peace. He comforted us as he slowly transitioned our dad to his new home. I will be forever grateful for those final days.  Even though we will miss him dearly here on Earth, we do not weep as those who have no hope. We know he is with Jesus. We take each day moment, by moment, but our hope lies in the resurrection of Christ. We have a comforter. We have a savior that bore our sins and infirmities so that we can live with him forever. For that, I am thankful. My dad’s confession was that he would live and not die. He now lives forever with Christ.