Sunday Post 73: Precious and Holy

Posted by Danny

Every night, I enjoy putting my kids to bed. I usually do it individually – it’s the time of day that each kid and I have the opportunity to connect with no other distractions.

One thing we do during this time is pray. We thank God for our many blessings. There was a time, right after Lisa died, that the “appreciation” part of the prayer was short. So consumed with what I’d lost, I struggled to see that I still had a lot of good stuff in my life.

As one friend pointed out, “Danny Tanner, I don’t feel sorry for you.  You have a lot to be thankful for.”  Made me sort of get over my lack of ability to find some good, even in the midst of a lot of bad.

Each night I pray that my girls will make good decision in their lives with friendships, boys, and career. I guess my hope is that when they are faced with a tough choice, maybe a lightbulb will go off – MMM, maybe this was one of those decisions dad prayed about 6,000 times when I was growing up.

Having lost our mom to cancer, it seems like folks are quick to make us aware of the numerous families in our area who are battling cancer or who are left to pick up the pieces when a young parent dies. We don’t know many of these families personally, but we keep them on our list.

I’m proud of my girls. They’re developing compassion. When we hear about the mother in Eastern North Carolina with three boys and stage 4 colon cancer, for months they ask me if I’ve received a report on their family. If I forget to pray for them one night, my kids are quick to chime in with a passionate plea for their comfort.

We laugh as we pray – sometimes having to take a break because of the giggles. I think God has a sense of humor, and I don’t want them to think that prayer has to be stodgy.

Maybe this prayer time is less for them and more for me. I’m not sure.

What I do know is that this 15 minutes each night is the most precious and holy time of my week.

Sunday Post 69: On Praying

Posted by Danny

Each night I head upstairs to put the girls to bed.  Michelle is the first at 9 pm.  What should take 5 minutes typically results in a 25 minute process.

We often get in a tickle fight, followed by the back and arm scratch and our nightly prayer.  Throughout the routine, I pepper in questions:

How was school? 

Who did you play with on the playground today?

How are you feeling about summer camp?

Every night I pray, out loud, that my girls will make good decisions in their lives.  Hopefully, when they’re faced with a tough one, they’ll think of me and God and make the right one.

It’s this time of day that I find out who Stephanie has a crush on.  I discover the girls who are not playing nicely on the playground.  I find out about the quiz that they didn’t do very well on.  Or I get a philosophical question about life.

On Lisa’s birthday last week, I got home and found that Michelle had written her a note.  Our plan for the night was to visit their school where a statue was dedicated in Lisa’s memory.  Her plan was to leave her note, along with a balloon, as a memorial.

The envelope was sealed so I’m not sure what she wrote.  But I do know that apparently she disclosed which 3rd grade boy currently has her attention.  Isn’t that interesting?  She just wanted to share some of her day-to-day thoughts with mom.  Sometimes I want to do that too.

Someone recently sent me a devotion by Max Lucado.  It said that perhaps prayer was really about sharing the small things in life with God.  Sort of like the time I spend with my kids when I put them to bed.  His theory was that God wanted time with us each day to unwind and hear what we’re thinking.  He said prayer wasn’t all about huge miracles and bringing world peace.

I don’t know – perhaps that’s true.  Perhaps we need to spend less time worrying about how we pray or what we say.  Maybe we should just laugh and casually chat, sharing our daily victories and stressors. 

He probably enjoys that time with us as much as I enjoy my time with my kids.

Sunday Post 21: The Holy Spirit or Insanity?

Posted by Danny

I often find my most spiritual times in the car alone.  Last week was no exception. 

Sunday night I dropped the girls off at Lake Gaston for the first week of summer.  I’m smart enough to know that although I will miss them, time away to recharge – for all of us – is healthy.  Because of a dance rehearsal, we didn’t get to the lake house until 11 pm and  I had about a two-hour drive home after that.

As I hit the back roads on my journey home, I turned off the ipod and began to pray. 

God, what’s this all about?  Can you use this situation for good?  What do you want me to do?  Is it writing?  Speaking?  Spending time with others suffering from loss?  What do you have in store?

God, prove to me that she’s OK.  I need concrete proof.  Show me!  (I realized and admitted that my request was evidence of a lack of faith – but I think He allows me that space.)

God, let me talk to her – a dream, anything.

As the drive progressed, I turned my music back on and my mind drifted to other things. 

About 20 minutes later, one of my favorite songs came on.  It’s a Kenny Chesney song, Out Last Night.  For the first ten years of our marriage, I cracked on Lisa for her affinity for country music.  I was not a fan and had no intention of becoming one.  But my diligent wife ignored my resistance.  “You’ll like this one,” she’d say in a convincing tone.  With Kenny, she was right. 

I sang aloud, glad that I was alone.  My ipod was on shuffle so the next song could have been Kanye West or the Cheeta Sisters.  Instead, it was another country tune Lisa had shared with me – Roll With Me by Montgomery Gentry, another of my favorites.  A smile came across my face.  I knew all of the words and again, I sang as loud as I could, a Nashville star in the making.

When Back When I Knew It All, another Gentry tune and Lisa recommendation, randomly followed, I started laughing.  A unexplicable peace filled my soul right on I-95 South.  Loud bursts of laughter paired with uncontrollable tears overtook me.  I felt a connection with something I could not see.  I continued to sing – my hand outstretched searching for hers – like so many times before.

As the song came to a close I wondered if this had just been a fluke. 

The next song was not country.  It was by Mariah Carey – Touch My Body.  It has sort of mature theme but I really like the tune.  Unfortunately, I was not very discreet when I played it and one time when it came on in the car and my good wife was in the passenger seat, Michelle started singing all of the lyrics at the top of her voice.  Boy, did I get a lecture!  “You’ve been playing this song in the car with our six-year-old?  What if she starts singing ‘touch my body’ on the St. Timothy’s School playground?  What are you thinking?”

It took two notes for me to recognize the tune.  The laughter was louder and contentment filled me.  There aren’t any other four songs that had more meaning to Lisa and to me than these.

Did God answer my request?  Was I truly connecting with Lisa?  Was this His proof? 

Or am I just wishful or crazy?  Searching for something to grasp on to.

I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  But tonight a friend told me to just accept it and be thankful for the joy it brought for that short period of time.  I think I will.

Sunday Post 3: Prayer

Posted by Danny

I’m a praying man.  Have been for a very long time.  But every time I think I get prayer figured out, something throws a kink in it.

Before September 2009, I prayed every day.  Often more than once.  I typically followed a prayer pattern that I learned at some point in my past, probably Mrs. Byrd’s sixth grade Sunday School class:  P – praise, R – repent, A – anyone or anything, Y – yourself.  I’d say that my prayer life before last year had become somewhat rote.  I was consistent, but there just wasn’t anything on a regular basis that I was worried enough to really pour over.   That all changed last fall. 

As Lisa’s disease progressed, I became the most passionate and dedicated prayer in the world.  I prayed morning, noon and night.  I prayed from places deep, deep inside of me; places I didn’t even know I had.  I argued, I pleaded, I begged, I cried, I bellowed.  My conversations with God were real.  It was like yelling at my brother, but with more emotion than I’d ever expended before. 

I knelt in prayer.   I prayed while I drove.  I fell down in the shower, naked and on my knees.  I prayed with eyes closed; with eyes open. 

I did not pray for God’s will to be done – I was afraid of what the answer might be.  I prayed for healing – full and complete physical healing for my Lisa.

I told God I was not going to pray for anything but her healing – I told him that was the only acceptable answer.  I don’t think I could have prayed for anything else at that time.

The week before she died, I remember laying across the ottoman in my bedroom – exhausted; emotionally, physically and spiritually drained.  She was in so much pain.  I couldn’t watch any longer.  Quietly I said, “Uncle.  You got me.  I can’t watch her suffer like this.  You win.  If this is how she will live, take her.  But your butt (I didn’t use the word butt) better walk with me when she’s gone.” 

I continued to pray after her death – but not for others.  I selfishly prayed for myself.  And I socked it to Him.  I called God names that would curl your hair – names that an Elder in a Presbyterian church probably shouldn’t even know.  Ask my boss, I’ve never been one to hold back my opinions with people in authority.  Apparently God was no exception.

I couldn’t accept the fact that God had the ability to heal but made the decision not to act on my behalf.  So, I decided that God didn’t heal.  He just didn’t do that.  How could he?  I prayed with more vigor and passion than anyone in the world had ever prayed before.  We had thousands upon thousands praying for Lisa.  We even had at least one atheist throw a shout out up on our behalf.  There is no way that if God responds to prayer for healing that He wouldn’t have heard and moved on our impassioned request.  I didn’t question that He had the power to heal.  I just decided that He chose not to get involved in earthly illnesses. 

I was comfortable with my new outlook on prayer.

And then, a few months ago, I was talking with my buddy Brad.  I told him I now prayed for strength, peace and support for those going through rough times, but not for physical healing.  Iwasn’t going to spend time praying for something that was not going to happen.  I’d pray for stuff that God might actually be interested in doing something about.  I don’t like to waste time.  I let Brad know that I had figured it out and was mighty proud of my new-found knowledge.  Internally, I scoffed at those who were still wasting their time on the healing thing.  It just wasn’t happenin’.  I was glad I had the answer.

My friend Brad, father of three males, smiled and said, “You know Bruce, there are a lot of times that I tell my boys ‘no’.  Often, I don’t even hear their request before I tell them ‘no’.  Sometimes I tell them ‘yes’, but I’ll have to admit, not as often as ‘no’.  And then sometimes, I say ‘no’ and then after I really listen to their arguments and pleas, I change my mind.  The bible DOES refer to God as our Father.”

I swear!  Here we go again.  Another thing to think about.

Art, another very wise man, told me recently that faith was a journey.  It wasn’t about having all of the answers.  It was about asking the questions, finding your way.  I like Art!  According to his theory, I’m the most faithful man alive.

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