Sunday, March 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Ally

Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:29-31

You are the most unique person I know. To some people that might seem a strange and even disquieting description; to some even an affront; yet to you, the highest of compliments.

 When you were forged by God, He created you out of the most contrasting of elements: titanium and linen, oak and limestone, maple and sandstone, tungsten and clay, fire and water, and I would have it no other way. When Jesus encourages us to “let your light so shine before (others)…” yours burns brightly in a way that warms others, and sometimes even makes them sweat…I love it!  Shine on sister.  

I love that you’re tough as nails and soft as down, ready to defend others and loving the “unlovely.” Your life has been about taking that which is discarded and transforming it into the valuable and precious; I know of no other principle closer to the heart of God. 

I also love how you love me. It fills me with a sense of wonder and freedom. There is a piece of me that cried out to be independent and free of all accountability, yet you took it captive and threw in a  dungeon in a faraway place, unreachable by the mortal body, soul, or spirit to be held hostage until death do we part. Little did I know, that piece of me was holding ME hostage to a life of emptiness and ultimately ruin. You continually put on display the kind of love God Himself requires of his children.

Thank you for loving others back to life, even at the expense of your own – laying down your life for others, picking up your cross, and following Him to places others refuse to travel. You are a lamp on a lampstand.

You are a lioness protecting her cubs. You are a sultry smoking hot lover loving her husband with passion and grace. You are a faithful friend, trusted confidant, soldier in arms, partner in prayer, and lover of life. You are real; the antithesis of plastic. You are organic, earthy, wholesome and hearty. Thank you God for my lovely bride and precious friend, a friend like no other:

You are irrepressible and irreplaceable,

 You are imaginative and image Deo, 

You butter my bread and bust my chops.

You are the French to my kiss and the frost on my glass of beer.

You are the melody to my song and the spring in my step.

You are the beat of my drum and tempo of my life.

You challenge me to be a better man when I want to let out with a primal scream and string of expletives.

You epitomize what it means when a husband and wife become one.

You are my missing rib.  je t'aime forever.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lost and Found
Lani Paige Patterson
Tim A. Michael



I was up well before dawn this morning.  My alarm goes off at 4:40 am every work day. This morning would commence with more mourning.  Sweet Paige is gone. “…weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning” (just not THIS morning).  This young day has been filled with bitter tears and sobbing.  About 6:15 my daughter Whitney descended the stairs to head out to work only to find me still in robe and house shoes. She asked about the arrangements and I just started coming apart at the seams again. The love and embrace of one of your children is comfort beyond words. There will be no work for me today.  (I made it through yesterday as I fought through a perpetual lump in my throat and tears all day only to break down into a blubbering mess in the parking lot as I left for home. The Comforter swooped in and reminded me again about home – she’s home, finally home.)
I grabbed a roll of paper towels, a damp cloth, and my cup of coffee as I sought refuge in my quiet place – the back porch and my Adirondack chair. My faithful friend Linus joined me.  A temperate morning for February found the fog thick around the street lights that line the median of the street behind my house.  The darkness seemed thicker and colder in spite of the mid 50’s that greeted me. I sipped my very strong and very black coffee while fending off a playful dog that refuses the term “no” when fetch is on his mind. He just doesn’t get it, I’m in no mood to play, only mourn.

 I love to sit on my back porch that faces south and slightly east and watch the sunrise. Today’s sunrise was scheduled elsewhere. Dawn’s early light would simply seep into an overcast day – grey and seemingly without promise; a perfect picture of my emotions. Two dove flash across the dawning sky – I quickly name them “Comfort” and “Peace.” The Holy Spirit is here. I well up again in grief, and regret, and thanksgiving. Such are the gamut of emotions of the grieving. I whisper-shout “Linus! Please! Forget about the friggin ball!” I take him inside so I can collect my thoughts and pray.
I made a 2nd pot of coffee and go pee and pee and pee.  When I return to my back porch I notice it’s a little lighter outside, and a little colder. I decide to make a fire in the fire pit and offer up my paper cry towels and snot rags as burnt offerings. “I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” Psalms 141:1-2

I notice the two dove are now sitting on my back fence. I fall apart again. In quiet peace they sit for a visit.

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Matt 6:10

The world is waking up now; the purple finches are chattering, more cars are on the street, people rushing off to work and/or school, life goes on while our world is on pause. It’s not fair. The realization of that truth settles in again – Life is not fair. We live in a hostile environment where the weight of this world presses against us, prevailing winds are always contrary, and the rush of the current saps the strength from heartiest of souls. Comfort and Peace are still nearby cooing and wooing my heart. I cry some more and beg the Father for answers.

The littlest things are now irritating and troubling me:
Why wouldn’t that stupid dog put down the damn ball!?!!

The same reason Paige couldn’t put down some of the things in her life – innocence.

Innocence?  How do you call substance abuse innocence? How many times had she been warned? How many times had she been rebuked? How many times had she been treated?
How many times had she been MIStreated and rejected?  How many times had she been loved unconditionally?

We loved her, and we accepted her into our home and our family.
Well done.

No.  We still failed her.  We let her out of our grasp; we looked away for a moment and she was gone.
She was never out of my grasp.

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:28-30
All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

Innocent. Paige was called “innocent” by the One who holds the keys to all things. Her sins not counted against her.  Almost exactly a week prior to getting that call we all dread, Paige sat on our living room couch willingly offering up accountability for a weekend of partying. It was an open door to usher in some light. In a very gentle and unique way, the Holy Spirit showed up and introduced her to Jesus – the author and finisher of her faith. She acknowledged her sin and started her dialogue with her Savior.

We explained that religion doesn’t save anyone, but salvation comes through a personal walk with the Lord. She started her walk that day, in innocence, and the limited understanding she had. She may have only traveled a very short distance with him, but that’s okay. Some people are saved and delivered and healed in an instant. For others it takes time to grow through and out of generational vices that are rooted deep.  Paige didn’t have time to get all of that uprooted from her life. She fell victim to her flesh and a longing for the leeks of Egypt – she wanted the comfort of her “normal.”

Looking for Lodging

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3
For most people, home is a place of comfort and rest, but for all intents and purposes Paige was homeless when she came to stay with us. That was her normal.  She drifted in and out of houses and lives like a boat on a journey of discovery rather than a ship on a mission. Paige lived in the moment. Her understanding of tomorrow was that it would eventually come. That too was her normal. Life was fluid and organic and often empty. She was looking for something or someone to fill that void.

Paige was a walking enigma. She went by her middle  name which means “Helper.” I know deep down that was the cry of her heart, but first she needed to be helped. There was a day when Ally was handing out “assignments” at the house, and Paige raised her hand and said “I want to help! Give me an assignment!” She wanted to fit in and connect, and to us she fit in just fine. Incidently, her first name was Lani which is originally Hawaiian for "sky" or "heaven."

We’ve all heard the old adage “God hates the sin but loves the sinner.” Well, I have a new appreciation for that today.  I have seen up close and very personal the destructive power of that sin that God hates. Evil exploits innocence. Evil destroys the innocent. Even then the Father picks up the pieces and puts them back together again. In that conversation with Paige, we assured her that there was no way she could “behave” her way out of our family or His. God’s love and forgiveness is unconditional for those that come to Him. I know that runs counter to some traditional Christian views. Some of you think you can” back-slide” and be thrown out of the club. Nonsense. His blood covers and cleanses ALL of our sins, past, present, and future.  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Hebrews 13:8
Paige’s NEW normal will be ours one day, reunited in a glorious place without the sting of death that has been swallowed in His victorious Light. Until that day, every coo of the dove will remind me she rests in comfort and peace.  She once was lost but now is found. She traded her loss in for a crown. Her life and soul now redeemed. She is today Lani Paige - "Heaven's Helper."

We love you sweetie, and we’ll see you later.