Monday, March 19, 2018

What limitations?

I am one of the last people to call "bully".  Honestly, I think the word is thrown around way too much today.  Things that in years past were just mean are now grounds for removal from school or even worse.  I'm generally under the umbrella of those who feel like the generations coming up are becoming more and more sensitive, and not in a good way.  
That being said, a few years ago, when Cora was in 5th grade, she was bullied. At first I pretty much told her some kids are just mean and to not listen to them.  I told her her worth is found in Christ and not what some dumb kid says or thinks.  (This is true, btw, but not necessarily helpful in this situation.)  As time progressed I came to realize it was more than just some stupid kid being a, well, stupid kid.  Cora was being bullied.  
Cora is clinically OCD, which means her brain tells her she "has" to do certain things. She also has something called Irlen's Syndrome. Irlen's Syndrome "is a perceptual processing disorder. It is not an optical problem. It is a problem with the brain's ability to process visual information" ( Along with OCD and Irlen's, she is also dyslexic. What this all means is that the information Cora sees in written form does not always translate into her brain correctly, and the reverse of that is that what Cora thinks does not always come out written, and sometimes said, the way she meant.  
Most people know about dyslexia.  The simplest explanation is that letters and words often get reversed.  Compound this with Irlen's, which in Cora's case means she sees written pages as if she were watching the opening credits of Star Wars--the words on the page are constantly moving up on her.  She also sees sparkles all over the page.  Black on white writing (which is the majority of books and schoolwork), and computer work make these issues more prevalent.  
She was diagnosed with Irlen's in 1st grade, thank goodness, earlier than most people discover it. This meant we were able to get her the proper help and aid her in her disability.  The help did not however cure these things, as there is no cure, and though over the years she has adapted her learning, she still has issues.  One of these issues is switching letters around.  
So, back to the fifth grade problems.  Cora was working in a group one day and was tasked with writing out the ideas the group had.  One particular word had a "d" in it and she wrote a "b" instead.  The entire group snickered and jeered, but one boy took it even farther, telling her she should be in kindergarten instead of 5th grade, since she couldn't even tell the difference in a D and a B.  She held her emotions in for school, but came home crushed. Things like this continued to happen frequently.  By the time Christmas break rolled around she was begging me to pull her out and homeschool her.  I told her, basically, she needed to suck it up, but sometime during the 2nd semester God spoke and told me she needed to be homeschooled the next year.  
She had done a 180 from a sweet, caring girl who loved to be in school and see people to becoming an introverted, self-conscious, inwardly-drawn little girl who dreaded going to school.  Jake and I began to honestly worry about her and her state of mind and being.  Part of me knew she was in a loving home and was constantly being told how smart she was, how wrong those kids were, and how loved she was.  That part of me knew that more than likely she wouldn't do anything drastic.  The other part of me was terrified, constantly checking in on her, constantly in a state of worry, and constantly wanting and having to force myself not to go confront those kids and their parents. 
We are fortunate.  Many kids would have turned to some scary things during this time.
We did a lot of research and prayed and finally chose to have Cora become a part of Odyssey Charter School; it's a virtual school with a one day a week face-to-face with teachers.  This setup seemed ideal, being able to work at home at her own pace, able to get extra help when needed while being able to get quickly through other things.  She would also still have some outside social time, without it being overwhelming. 
The first year, 6th grade, her teacher came to her once a week for one on one training. A few months in both her teacher and I began to notice a change in her, she was becoming happy again. She was less withdrawn and was really loving school again.  
She made straight As that year.
And every year since.
She has not once let any subject on her report card fall below an A, in fact, she gets upset when any grade falls below a 95% and prefers them to be at or above 100.  She has taken only honors and AP classes. She was #3 in her grade last year. 

A few nights ago she was inducted into the National Honor Society.
She met with her counselor last week and has decided to graduate a year early, so she will be graduating next year at the age of 16.

I say all this to say:  You are not defined by what other people say or do.  You are not defined by your diagnosis.  The only limits you have are those you put on yourself.  You are "remarkably and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14, CSB);  if you would only look beyond your circumstances, your past, your "limitations" and see yourself the way you were created, by a Master-Craftsman who has amazing plans for your life, "For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11, CSB).

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Year 11

Saturday, February 10, 2007 was the longest, hardest day of my life.  It began the night before.  I had gone to bed at a fairly decent hour, only to be awoken by my mom calling sometime around midnight.  My daddy had been progressively getting worse and he said it was time to go.  I got to his side only minutes later and 2 hours later he was gone.  The rest of the wee hours of the morning and the entire next day I was on auto-pilot.  Do what needed to be done: tell my kids, reach out to friends and family, take care of the business end of everything.  I didn't grieve until late that night, when all my bottled-up emotions came bursting forth in one horrific waterfall of putrid anger, that I spewed onto Jake.  After that came the tears.  It was not pretty.  

Every year on February 10 I write about my daddy.  It's cathartic and has become a special way for me to remember him and all the good times we had.  It's a way to honor him and let others know what an amazing man he was.  This day is never easy for me, and I'm usually a little down or moody.  
Today marks 11 years without my daddy.  It's hard to believe it's been that long, and it also seems like a lifetime ago--so much has transpired since then, so much that I wish he had been here for.  

This 10th hasn't been as bad as the previous ones; I'm able to remember more easily, with smiles instead of tears.  I think he would be proud of me, I know he would be proud of Jake and the kids.  He would be out here as often as he could, cheering JD on in rugby and taking Cora shopping and spending special time with her. He loved being a grandaddy more than anything I think.  
His fourth great-grandchild was born a month ago, I have no doubt he would be the most amazing great-grandaddy, spoiling those kids rotten. 

Today my sister sent me a video of Ray Steven's "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival" (If you don't know it, I highly suggest youtubing it).  Ray Stevens was one of daddy's favorites.  It was the absolute perfect way to remember him today. I remember when I was a kid and he and I were alone in the car he would put in a Ray Steven's tape and the two of us would belt out the outrageously funny songs.  He took me to one of his concerts in Branson one year.  I watched the video and smiled, then laughed to myself, remembering those precious times that didn't seem like much of anything at the time.  I smile now just thinking about all the silly things we would say and do, just the two of us.  He was always so serious and stoic, but when we had our daddy-daughter days every week a different daddy would come out, one that was just for me. 
If you're a dad reading this, know that those little, simple moments with your kids are so important.  They may not seem like much at the time, but they will be treasured for a life-time and leave a permanent mark on their lives.

So as I contemplated today on what I would write I mostly smiled inside, knowing that he has had 11 beyond-amazing years in the presence of His Savior and that one day I will be there with him, worshiping together.  So I can't help but smile and press on and press in to Jesus.

Happy 11th homecoming day, daddy.  I love you!

Friday, February 10, 2017

10 years ago

     I haven't paid close attention to the date lately. I know it's February, but my mind has been in other places, so I didn't realize the actual date. I was looking through "on this day" on Facebook this afternoon and saw all my previous posts from years past honoring my daddy.
Today is February 10, 2017. Today marks 10 years since my daddy departed into eternity. 10 years.
     In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, in some like it was just the other day.  So many things have transpired, so many life changes. So many times I want to share things with him or think how much he would have loved being there. I think how much he would love to watch JD play football and rugby, how I am positive he would be out here for every game, even if that meant buying a second house. I think about how proud he'd be of Cora and her accomplishments. 
    I think how much he would enjoy being a great-granddaddy. My oldest niece has 3 kids now, I can just imagine how spoiled they would be by their granddaddy.  He loved being a granddaddy more than just about anything in the world. I hope my nieces and nephews and my children know that, know just how much he loved them.
     I realize it's easy to put on rose-colored glasses as the years pass by. It's easier to remember the good than the, err, not so good. I know my daddy was far from perfect, but he was still amazing. As I think back now, he was one of my best friends. I didn't know it at the time, but looking back I know for sure.  We were pretty inseparable. 
     I don't have much to say that I haven't said in the last 9 posts, but I still wanted to do it. It's become a custom, a way to honor him and take time to remember. I remember more often than I can count, but this is a time I can be purposeful, not just suddenly be hit over the head with a stray memory, invading my head uninvited. I still dream about him every night. My mind places him in at least one dream every night, and every night I'm saddened to realize it was just a dream. 
     One thing that keeps me going, even after all this time, is knowing I will see him again one day.  Daddy wasn't loud in his faith, but he was strong in it.  I remember having a talk with him on the night he passed, asking if he was ready, if he was scared, if he was sure he knew where he was going... He assured me he was ready and he knew he would be with Jesus. I was there, holding his hand, when he met him face to face. I can tell you the exact moment. He had pretty much stopped breathing, his eyes weren't opening anymore, he wasn't really responding to us anymore, and suddenly his eyes shot open wide, he inhaled vigorously, and he was gone. I knew at that moment he had met Jesus. That's what gives me comfort, knowing that he is with his Savior and that someday I will be too. 
     But in the meantime, happy heavenly birthday, daddy! I'll be seeing you. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Veil

Yesterday in church we were in John 16:5-15.

The pastor brought in a correlation that really got me thinking.

In this passage Jesus was speaking to His disciples about the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, coming to them once He departed this world. He explained what the Spirit's role is in the world. Verse 8, "When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment," The Holy Spirit has the job of convicting people of their sin. (Not condemning, convicting.) This is the work of the Holy Spirit, among other things. It is not our work. It is His. It is not in the job description of humans to convict others, now please understand me, as a believer I am called, I am commanded, to call a spade a spade. I am commanded to call out sin and injustice, but not in a way where I lord myself over that person in condemnation. We are called to point out sin, but it is the job of the Holy Spirit to CONVICT that person of sin.

Scripture says In 2 Corinthians 3:14, "but their minds were closed. For to this day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains; it is not lifted, because it is set aside only in Christ." What this is saying is that the only way for people to see their sin for what it truly is, to understand Scripture for what it truly says, is through the power of Christ, not on their own. A few verses earlier in chapter 3 it talks about the Israelites not being able to look upon Moses after he had been in the presence of God. He had to veil his face to shield their eyes from His glory.

This is a scripture reference back to the Old Testament, Exodus 34:29-35. After Moses had entered the presence of God, he physically radiated the glory of God, so much so that the Israelites were afraid to look upon him and he had to veil his face. The people could not gaze upon the Glory of God, even if it was just a reflection, an after-burn if you will, of His glory.

Just like the physical veil Moses put on to prevent people from seeing the Glory of God, those who are not in Christ have a spiritual veil over them, preventing them from seeing the Glory of God. This veil can only be removed by the power of Christ.

This thought brought to mind Matthew 27, recounting the death of Jesus.

50-51, "Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom..."

The curtain that is mentioned here is the curtain in the Temple that separated the Holy of Holies, where God's presence rested, with the rest of the Temple. The curtain was there for a reason, because any person with unconfessed sin, who gazed upon the actual Presence of God would instantly die. As mere humans we did not have direct access to God. But when Jesus, who is God in physical form, died on the cross, He took on every sin of the world, past, present and future. You see, a blood sacrifice has to be made for the redemption of sin, but not just any blood would provide permanent reconciliation. Only perfect blood could do that. So, God chose to come and take it on Himself. When Jesus died, taking on all the sins of the world, the curtain--the veil--was split, signifying that through Christ we could have direct access to God, not be separated by a veil. Christ's death and resurrection provided the way for the physical veil of the temple to come down, but it also provided the payment for the spiritual veil of sin to be torn away.

But what is our role in all of this? Well, I want to look back at Exodus 34 and 2 Corinthians 3 again. It says when Moses entered the presence of God he physically radiated from the experience. In 2 Corinthians it went on to say that the glory that shown on his face would fade as time passed and he was away from God's presence. Here's a few of things I gleaned from yesterday's message:

1) If you have truly encountered God, if you have truly entered into His presence, people will notice. There will be a change. It may frighten some people (the Israelites were afraid to look upon Moses). It may confuse or even anger some people. But, there will be a significant change. A true encounter with Jesus brings about change.

2) It will be a lasting change. 2 Corinthians 3 goes on to say in verses 8-11 that the glory shown on Moses' face was temporary, the reason being he could not continually be in the presence of God. However, the glory shown on the face of those who put their faith in Christ will be an everlasting glory, through the Holy Spirit. Through the power of the cross we can now have direct access to God, and once you have entered His presence, through the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in you. You are continually in the presence of God. And that glory never fades.

3) Our role? To allow God's glory to radiate through us, allowing others to see what a true encounter with the Savior means. Our role is to radiate the Glory of God through our everyday, personal walk with Him. When we do that we allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish His role through us.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

He Celebrates 9 Years Today

Today is February 10, 2016.  February 10th is my least favorite day of the year.  Very early, in the wee hours of the morning, February 10, 2007, my daddy heard His Savior's voice calling him home.  I'll never forget that moment or the expression on daddy's face as he entered into eternity.  And though I hate that he was taken from me, I am honored I got to hold his hand and witness that moment.

Nine years.  Can it really be that long?  Almost a decade?  Though my thoughts during the day are no longer constantly consumed with him, he is still in my dreams every night. There are still moments, events, random things that bring tears to my eyes, remembering him.  

It has become tradition for me to write a blog of remembrance each year on this day.  My heart really isn't in it for some reason today, but here I am, tradition will hold.  I was reading back through previous years' posts moments ago.  What sweet memories were brought to mind as I read through my random ramblings.  

Daddy wanted me.  I know that.  He chose to have me, persuaded my mom to have another child late in life.  It makes me smile, knowing that I was wanted, chosen, loved.

Daddy was a hard man.  You didn't want to cross him.  He was small, but mighty.  He didn't mince words.  But he loved and served fiercely, usually behind the scenes, where no one would know.  

He loved to do things he wasn't supposed to do.  If he was told not to do something, that usually meant he was going to do it; whether that meant buying his daughter a $60 teddy bear AND the $60 Easter dress, because his wife said no, or whether it was throwing his granddaughters into the pool, in their pajamas, because one of their mothers had specifically said to him they were not allowed to swim anymore.  He loved to live on the edge of defiance. No one told daddy what he could or could not do.  

He loved to spoil those he loved.  I miss my weekly daddy-dates.  I miss the gifts he lavished upon me.  Not because I want all the gifts, but because that's how he said, "I love you," and I want so badly to feel that again.  He often had a hard time verbalizing his love, but he showed it in so many other ways.

I wish my children could have known him longer.  They were so young, just four and five when he died.  I fear their memories of him are fading and will eventually fail them. Grandaddy loved them so much, I hate that they may not have that memory, the memory of the love.  Besides Jake and myself, I wanted my daddy to be the first one to hold JD.  I still remember the pride on his face as he took him in his arms.  He loved that little boy like no one else could.  They had an instant bond that transcended time, space, age...

Grandaddy loved all his grandchildren to the moon and back.  Brittnee came along and he knew he was born to be a Grandaddy.  Her grandaddy.  That little girl could do no wrong. She got away with murder.  Each grandchild came, and with the excitement and pride only a Grandaddy could show, he welcomed them into the world and into our family. Alyssa, Haleigh, Kennon, Melanie, Jared...He wanted nothing more than to spend time with his grandkids and spoil them rotten.  I pray they remember that.  

I am thankful for the time we did have with him.  I am thankful, thanks to the blood of Jesus, many in our family will have the opportunity to be with him again.  
Until that time comes, I will keep on remembering, keep on loving, and today I will say, "happy 9th homecoming day daddy.  I'll be seeing you."

Douglas Cox Haynie February 26, 1939 - February 10, 2007

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Yes, He will...

One the most often quoted "scriptures" is actually not even found in the Bible.  
That may seem like a confusing statement, so let me explain.  
I hear this statement several times a week.  I see it quoted on Facebook memes.  Well-meaning people pat others, who are going through gut-wrenching times, on the back and say it.  
Someone, at some point, a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, twisted some scripture around and there birthed this now over-quoted saying.  But, it is complete and total hogwash.  
What is this falsehood of which I speak? Maybe you already know.
"God will never give you more than you can handle."  
No where, and I repeat, no where in the Bible does it say this.  Now, the Bible does speak of you never being put into a temptation without having a way out, and maybe this is the verse that got confused over time (?), but scripture does not say God won't give you more than you can handle.  In fact, scripture, and life, is proof that He will.
Moses, Abraham, David, Daniel...hero after hero in the Bible, their histories show they had much more put on them than they could handle on their own.
Look at life now.  Loss of children.  Suicide of loved ones.  Friends and family dealing with cancer.  I have a dear friend who just ended a four year battle with breast cancer last Sunday.  She left behind a loving husband and 3 beautiful children.  Do you think these things are "more than they can handle" at times?  Absolutely.  

But this is the point.  God doesn't want us to do this on our own.  He doesn't want US to handle it.  He wants us to give it all over to Him and let Him shoulder our cares and concerns.  We aren't supposed to lean on our own understanding, on our own strength. God doesn't want us relying on ourselves.  And by saying He won't give us more than we can handle, that is exactly what we are saying, that I can rely on me.  I don't need anyone or anything else.
Life WILL throw curveballs at us that we don't understand, that we aren't prepared to handle, that are just too much.  And that's okay.  Sometimes we can't handle it.  
But HE can. Hand it over.  
God won't give you more than HE can handle.  Truth. 
And He can handle anything, if you let Him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Proficiency Exam

Here in Nevada the high school students have to take proficiency exams.  It doesn't matter if they made straight A's, if they can't pass the exam, they flunk. No matter how good they were.  These tests mean the difference between moving on or staying back.  Passing or failing.  Effort in the class means nothing if they can't pass this test.
Now let's say those high school students are in a class with a teacher who is not only an expert on the subject, he actually IS the subject (think William Faulkner being the teacher in Faulkner English or William Shakespeare being the teacher in a class on Shakespeare).  But not only is he the subject, he truly wants his students to pass.  He doesn't want a single student to fail.  Not one.  So, he decides to do something completely radical.  Since he's the one who wrote the test, he decides to give out the answers ahead of time.  He doesn't do it in secret or to just a select few, he readily gives them to anyone who is willing to listen.  He puts out an invite, "Answers to the proficiency exam will be given the next 3 nights at 6PM.  Anyone who comes will be given the answers to the test."
He waits.
A few people start to trickle in.  Most people think it's a joke at first, or a trick.  Surely the author of the test wouldn't readily hand out the answers to the test.  But it's no trick.  He tells them exactly what will be on their proficiency exam.  Exactly what they have to know to pass.  The exact questions and the exact answers to those questions.  And then he does something even more amazing.  He says, "Now go tell everyone else who didn't show up."
Now the ball is in those students' court.  They have a choice to make.  They can choose to keep the answers to themselves, after all, they were the ones who made the effort to come listen, the others chose not to, right?  Or, they could do as the teacher asked, they could tell their fellow students.  Most chose to go tell the other students.
The ones who went out to tell others the good news got mixed reactions.  Some people were really excited.  Seriously?!?  You have the answers to the final exam?  If I just do this I'll pass?  Nice!  They took the answers and even helped spread the word.
Others scoffed.  Yeah, right!  Why would the teacher just willingly hand over the answers to the test?  It's too easy!  It's a trick!
Still others said, "that's nice, but I don't like those answers.  I've been studying and I've come up with different answers.  I think mine are better.  Why can't there be multiple answers?"  
You try to reason with those people.  "It's no trick."  "Yes, it's easy, but that's the way the teacher wanted it."  "No, there cannot be more than one answer." "Why?  Because the one who wrote the test said this...this right here was the answer.  See, he had me write it down.  It's in black and white."  "No, I didn't write it down wrong.  I didn't hear incorrectly.  He said this was what was on the test, and this was the only way to pass."
Still some chose not to listen.  They went into the test unprepared. Every single student who didn't have the answers the teacher had given out flunked the exam and by extension the class.  They failed.  

"For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son, that anyone who believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him.  For anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he does not believe in the Name of the one and only Son of God."  John 3:16-18

"Jesus told him, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6

"If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."  Romans 10:9

"For the Lord does not delay in His promise, as some understand delay, but He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to come to repentance."  2 Peter 3:9

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word WAS GOD."  John 1:1 (my own emphasis added)