November 7, 2017

I Could Have Sworn This Was Heaven

What is your version of paradise? What dream, held most dear to your heart, is what you envision as your “heaven”?

The movie “Field of Dreams” is, to me, a bridge building presentation. Though Hollywood often misses truth in their cinematic efforts, this movie brings to light and understanding the deepest yearning of every beating, human heart – reconciliation through love.

To a boy now a man who wanted to have a connection to his father and the father that didn’t know how to act with a boy born to him in his mature years, their only connection was baseball and that became a painful exercise to a young man growing up in the turbulence of the 1960’s, where so much of what once was accepted as normal life was both questioned and cast aside in favor of a vastly different paradigm which often left people grasping for the human interaction that had likewise been cast aside for something fleeting, something more.

The summation of the movie where John Kinsella asks his son “Is this heaven?” to which his son Ray answers, “No, it’s Iowa.” underscores the misunderstanding about what truly comprises heaven. It isn’t until John says “I could have sworn this was heaven” that Ray begins to see – to truly see with spiritual eyes flung wide open – that it is his FAMILY and those precious connections moment by moment that are the peace and heaven so ardently sought for but seldom found in the 1960’s and beyond to our own day.

The tears roll down my face sitting here watching Ray and his father John have that long postponed catch in the backyard. It is at this moment of their reunion that each little segment of who I am and who I am trying to become is completely wrapped up in all that my parents tried to offer to me, it comes full circle every time I see this movie. It isn’t just the movie itself, but the emotional connection to everything good in my life that came from the two people who loved me the most in my life and with whom I had a catch, with whom I had a cry, with whom I felt the eternal circle of their unconditional love, and by extension the mortal surrogates to show me what it was and is to feel God’s love.

While your personal “Field of Dreams” may not involve a pickle between third and home, or the dream of being the one to hit the ball that saved the game, it really isn’t about baseball at all.

It is about rounding the bases or milestones of life and, in those older years, rounding third to come home to discover that all that is good about your family life IS your heaven, be it Iowa, New York, or a humble back yard in Alabama.

That’s what heaven really is all about.

October 13, 2017

Lessons in Humility

Humility is something everyone wants to believe they are in possession of, but which few of us actually qualify for in concrete terms.

Funny is the joke of the little fellow upon returning from Sunday School class who bragged about his humility in contrast with his fellows, but not so funny is the reminder that we are not quite living up to what we thought we were in our mind's eye.

Having a refresher and a gut check in our own personal level of humility is never an exciting process, but it IS a necessary one for those who are seeking to be able to qualify through Christ for exaltation and eternal life in God's presence.

We seldom see ourselves as being the "unkind one", the "rude one", the one "who needs a lesson on good manners", but truth be told, there are times that is the exact truth of it all.

Because we all fall short of the glory of God, we need help. Christ IS that help. He sees us for who we really are, as my Daddy would say "warts and all" and loves us enough to help us correct the flaws, to mend the broken places, and to make smooth that which is rough, uneven and unlevel in our personal conduct so that we can be as He is by His virtue, His merits, His mercy, His grace, and His love.

Still a work in progress, I forge on trying to discover who I am supposed to become...

September 17, 2017

Growing through life

It has been a while since I counted my blessings individually and collectively.

Today is that day...

Today I am thankful for Almighty God's greatest gift - that of His Son Jesus Christ and the Atonement fearfully and wonderfully wrought in my behalf.

I am thankful for the life God has granted unto me, for each tick of my mortal life's clock and all the experiences that are intended for my good, my profit and learning and for those that even drag me through the valley of the shadow of death and grant me a particle of understanding of what Christ suffered for my rescue from sin.

I am thankful beyond measure for my husband, Rick. He is ever willing, ever loving and ever present in all that I do. I hope I will never be found bringing him harm, shame or anguish. He is my best friend in every measure that is eternal.

My family as it grows continues to prove an eternally growing blessing! How thankful I am for the two sons and sweet daughter that God has given and from them the three grandchildren we have at this point. I do not know what their "number" will become, nor does it matter as if I were counting beans. I only know their potential of growth is beyond all human equation and for that I am truly and humbly thankful.

We have sweet Jared as a reminder that God's timing and man's timing are not reckoned in the same fashion nor to the same purpose. He is delighted by little things: a familiar tune that makes him smile, the movies that he enjoys and the outings that offer him a broader view of the world beyond the four walls of our home which keep us secure.

Nathan, the first grandchild of our family on either side, is a rambunctious and growing toddler of 3.5 years old. Moving from being a toddler and into being a young boy, he is a natural mimic of what he sees and recalls. Fascinated with tools and doing things, Nathan loves to climb and explore and see the world through the eyes of a little boy who knows no boundaries and learns experientially.

Nathan and the crash cymbals.

Aaron, our second grandson, is a methodical, patient 2.5 year old who sees the world around him and ventures to learn of it in careful steps. He watches and checks for the reactions of those around him before treading out on his own. He is a thinker, this one! Very tender in his expressions, he is learning to share his thoughts and feelings now with words.

Aaron and his chalk.

Our sweet Alaina was born on January 5, 2017. At 8.5 months old, she is eagerly trying to follow her big brothers around and precociously standing, testing out her little legs for walking and climbing. Wherever they are, Alaina wants to at least see what they are doing before choosing her path of play. She is to this point a very patient little one who seemingly glides through the verities of having big brothers who are themselves learning to deal with the world around them, which learning is sometimes loud, sometimes funny and sometimes filled with tears for all.

Alaina trying out the kitchen.

Thomas and Tianna are lovebirds trying to work their way through life the best way they possibly can. They are affectionate, tender, and kind toward one another in a way that is both deferential and inspiring as to how to place the needs of one another ahead of their own.

The Merrill Family - Original Edition and Second Generation

The Three Musketeers

Rick, Jared and I hold down the fort here at home. We try to be found as believers in Christ and in good and Godly people. I am thankful for the anchor of our home in a world that is often, quite frankly, a terrifying place in which to dwell. Our home is more than four walls and a roof, but is a feeling of peace in a turbulent sea. It is a calm in the storm that can shelter my soul. While the thankfulness I feel for the material things of life is indeed great, I am even more deeply thankful for the things of the spirit that transcend time and space into the vastness of eternity.

May 31, 2017

I May Have Exaggerated My Life

Our world moves pretty fast from the moment we leave the safety of the family cocoon and enter the world where everyone is in competition to become better, higher, faster, farther and more.

Now surely some of this is necessary to our growth and development for in our personal desire to grow, we need the impetus to get off our backsides and actual DO something. Otherwise, we will simply sit and rot.

But when we think about our life, the events that are of substance and style versus those that are just what we wished we might have done, sometimes we blur those lines and take the wishes and make them a memory that never had substance to back the dream.

Lying, prevaricating, selective memory, gray area, define what is is... it doesn’t matter the terms we apply to it, when truth is only a tiny part of the story, then the story is a lie.

We tell tales small and tall, we speak to others seeing ourselves as big as we wish we were, and hope that most folks can see the fun in our tales for just what it is – fun. But sometimes, they can’t.

And that is when the harm happens. They honestly deeply believe what we have said. They want to believe we did great things and look up to us for the stories we’ve shared.

But before almighty God, they didn’t happen in the way we told them.

So then what?

If we are politicians, we say “I misspoke” and send out a weak mea culpa on social media and all is forgiven and forgotten unless it is an election year and it can be used in some way to wound and destroy.

But if we are to be Children of God, truly honesty and deeply sincere Children of God, we can’t live like politicians choose to live.

We who desire to be called by the Good Shepherd by our names must be worthy of being part of the flock.

So today, I confess, I may have exaggerated my life. I may have indeed wanted to appear better than I am, to accentuate both what I did in reality do and what I deeply wish I’d done instead of allowing everyone to see me for who I truly am.

Broken, mortal, flawed and in need of love and friendship anyway.

Because I know I am not alone, I also reach out to those who have likewise shared the tall tales and the worn stories of both truth and truth mingled with a healthy dose of fiction.

We can be honest enough to say that we might have taken liberties with reality in order to seem like more than we are in the mirror by ourselves.

We can be truthful enough to say that we have seen both our strengths and weaknesses in full measure and try our best to live up to who we are – and more importantly, whom we are not.

So today, I confess, I may have exaggerated my life. I’m not larger than life. I’m barely life-sized. And I hope that will be enough to get along with for now.