Love

Sunshine

My dad started calling me Sunshine 2 weeks before he passed away. The first time, I thought I had just heard him wrong. The second time, I figured he was confused, maybe the stress of his illness and news that his days were short, had caused him to mistake Sunshine for Summer. But when I arrived and he called out on that 3rd early morning, “There is my Sunshine!” my heart melted because I could see in his eyes that my new name was intentional.  This intentionality allowed me to feel so loved that it changed our relationship.  I found it easy to be with him and care for his body when previously it would have scared me.  It made me strong and secure in who I was as his youngest and only adopted child.  It also gave me the peace to let him go as he finished his life here with us. 

Nicknames, whether they are good or bad, have such an impact on us, don’t they? They can humiliate or belittle us if used in hatred, or they can offer inclusion, affection, and confidence if they come from someone, like my dad, who loves us.  Nicknames have the power to permanently label us and sadly, we often find it easier to accept the labels that are harsh over the affectionate or true ones given to us. I often dismiss the truth and uphold the label-lies.

Friends, what if we silenced the voices of self-hatred in our own heads and listened only to the names Jesus has already given us? Beloved, Forgiven, and Daughter are true and life changing names that he is intentionally whispering in our ears and  writing on our hearts.  If every time I approached him I heard him greet me with his love-names for me, I would begin to live in them and the reality of them over my life would change me,  just as I began to do with my sweet nickname Sunshine.  Allowing these truth-names to replace lies will enable us to live with full hearts, more stable self-worth, and the confidence that comes from being more fully focused on the reality of who Jesus is and who he says we are. 

The too few weeks my dad called me Sunshine broke me in the best way. My heart became softer and I was able to experience deep joy in the midst of deep pain.  Easily setting myself aside, it was simple to be light to my dads darkness because of the new name and reality that he bestowed on me. Honestly,  I had no idea that these death weeks would cap off my disappointed relationship with my dad with this precious and longed-for daddy love that he openly gave me. 

Sisters, I know this is exactly what God wants for us too. He wants to fill our lives full with the truth of his great affection so that we can live in and live from his unending, unbending love for us.

Xoxo,

Summer

Faith

Going Out and Coming In

IMG_20160901_173434My dad joined my life before my first birthday.  He was a larger than life character in his Corvette and as the story goes,  I wasn’t so fond of him.  When I would hear his car pull up for a visit, I would crawl as quickly as I could to the front door to try to shut it.  I don’t remember those days of course, but it’s easy to imagine that I probably wasn’t too fond of my dad’s old school, lay down the law ways. Nevertheless, I soon became his 5th child by marriage and his legal child a few years later through adoption.

W.E. Green is the kind of dad that made me feel safe when I was young.  He was strong and had a gregariousness that made people notice and respect him.  He was a manager by profession so he has always known how to run things and make them happen.  As a child I saw him as unbreakable, constant, and generous; and that made me feel loved.

I am grieving over his illness and the thought of him dying today.  Lying quietly with eyes filled with  tears, I began replaying in my mind scenes and stories of our life together–trips in the many motor homes we owned, Winchell’s Donuts and Church on Sundays, the horse races, and everyday snapshots like watching him walk around the neighborhood with our dogs, peeking at him when he takes a deep breath to pray over the thousands of meals we have had together and seeing him in his office with his Marilyn Monroe picture near him and using his pen to pay bills and then placing it in his lifelong pen holder.

Security is the theme that was impressed on my heart by these scenes.  Throughout my life my dad has always made me feel secure.  I never wondered if he would provide for me or if he would be there.  I never wondered if I would be safe or if he would allow me to be placed in danger.  I never wondered if he really knew what to do or was faking it.  Nope, he was and has continued to be a source of security for me and I realized that his secure presence is really what I’m grieving today.

God’s word is a faithful friend in grieving and Psalms 121 is speaking to my hurting heart. It says in verse 7 and 8,  “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”[pullquote] “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”[/pullquote]  I love that God gently reminds me that ultimately HE is my security from now until I’m with him.  He urges me not to fall into fear.  It’s a sweet way that Jesus is hugging me and whispering, “I’ve got your back.”  But even better is that I know that this verse is also for my dad– who is completely confident in Jesus, who has kept his life and will keep it safe all the way to the throne of God and forever.

Hanging tightly to the promises of God and forever grateful for all of your sweet comments, prayers, and hugs.

XOXO,

Summer