We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Dad Who Prayed

Every morning it was the same.

The alarm went off at 5:59 a.m. We listened to a couple of minutes of news and noted the weather. Barry slipped his arm around me, drew me close, and began to pray.

I loved to hear him pray.

He thanked God for His goodness and His blessings. He prayed for each daughter by name, mentioning their specific needs. He prayed for our grandchildren. He asked for wisdom with reliance on a Heavenly Father who cares for us, one day at a time.

And he often, with some variation, repeated the same phrases. I never knew where these words came from until after he passed away. Tucked into the books next to his side of the bed, I discovered a half sheet of paper, photocopied from an unknown book. I've bolded the words I heard most often.

The day begins for [John] Stott* at 5:a.m. He swings his legs over the side of his bed and starts the day in prayer:

Good morning, Heavenly Father; good morning, Lord Jesus; good morning, Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, I worship you as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship you, Sanctifier of the people of God. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord, Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen.

For decades, Stott has begun each day with a version of this Trinitarian prayer. 
That's all the paper held . . . until I carefully, almost reverently, turned it over. In Barry's familiar handwriting I found this addition: "That I might live a continual life of repentance, being transformed into the glory of God through the gospel of Christ by the work of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

I will always treasure the memory of Barry's morning prayers, prayers filled with worship, humility, and a deep desire that his children walk in truth.

*John Stott (1921-2011) was an English Christian leader and Anglican cleric.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Making of a Man

On May 15, 2015, I lost my best friend . . . my husband, my confidant, my true love for nearly forty years.

Even after he stepped over the threshold into the heavenlies, I learned a few things about him I didn't know before. Close to 500 people came to the visitation and/or memorial service. Many of them told me stories of their connections with Barry. Over and over again I heard the words, "kind," "gentle," "a good man." What a legacy he left us all.

After everyone found their way home after the service, my sister stayed a few more days. She helped me clean bathrooms and floors, launder sheets and towels, and make up beds.

After Barb and I finished in "our" room, Barry's bedside stand caught my attention. I dropped to the floor to take a closer look. Stuffed into the bottom section and spilling onto the floor, I noticed a large print Bible, his guidebook for life. I  found titles such as Composers on Music, A Gospel Primer for Christians, The Consolation of Philosophy, The Secret of Father Brown, Dialogues of Fenelon, Hearing God, and The Lazy Gardener. I also discovered a small book of Norman Rockwell prints, a 2011 anniversary card I had given him, a couple of textbooks he ordered to keep up with Elisabeth in English this past year, and a treasury of Curious George stories in Spanish.

I leaned my back against the bed to take it all in, then said to my sister, "This is the perfect snapshot of Barry's life. All these interests packed into one small space . . into one small life . . . that he lived out in a BIG way to touch many lives."

With intention, I left the "picture" just as you see it here. Somehow it represents the story of a man with an undeniable quest for learning. And the making of a man who shared his quest with whoever wanted to join him on the journey. 

I have a feeling, I'll be learning a few more things about Barry as I sift through his piles of papers and file folders, the 3 x 5 cards from his pockets, and his library of books.

I love you, Barry. And miss you more than words can express.