Understanding Forgiveness

(an excerpt from “Life’s Journey“)

The Beauty Beneath

Where Is Your Kid?

My kid is missing! Four dreaded words. Hearts pound, knees go weak, suddenly breathing is something we must remind ourselves to do. Even the most composed adult will crumble when those four words are uttered. My kid is missing.

I remember a time when my sister and I had taken her two children, ages three and five, to the department store. My sister took my niece to the toddler’s section, and my nephew and I went to scout out the boy’s section. He needed pants and T-shirts; because of his height and weight, his jean size was difficult to find. So I began to diligently search through the crowded racks, being careful to keep a watchful eye on my nephew’s every move. “Stay close to Auntie” was spoken every 30 seconds.

Finally! Two pairs of difficult to find jeans. Now, on to the t-shirts. I turned to say, “Let’s go, buddy”, but he was nowhere in sight. I circled the rack; maybe he was on the other side. Not there. I circled the rack again; maybe he had circled when I circled and we were just missing each other. Still nowhere in sight. Not wanting to overreact and give into sheer panic, I broadened my search. First one row and then another. No luck.

My heart began to pound so fast and hard it felt like it had moved into my throat. I began to call his name; semi-composed at first so as not to draw attention to myself. Then after a few seconds I started calling with an “I don’t care who hears me” abandon. “Josh!” No answer. I started looking at all the shoppers in the area; does anyone look suspicious? Is anyone heading quickly to the door? Oh, Lord, what will I say to my sister? Do I ask the clerk to lock down the store? I can’t breathe!

I continued to call out. I’m now racing wildly through the maze of racks and shelves, “Oh, God, where is my kid? Help me, please.” Out of sheer desperation I circled back to the starting point. In tears, panic apparent in my voice, I called out again, “Joshua!” Then, as my nephew’s life and my life (because I will kill myself if something has happened to that child) flashes before my eyes, I hear it – a giggle. I shout his name again, “Joshua!” Another giggle. It’s him! “Joshua, where are you?”

The next giggle leads me to push the clothes on the circular rack aside. Underneath, in the middle, a grinning little boy, extremely pleased with his trick on Auntie. I grabbed him, pulled him through the clothes and hangers – maybe bumping his head on the round metal rail, I can’t remember – then I hugged him and cried.

My racing heart began to slow down and the knot in my stomach suddenly turned to queasiness. As my trembling arms held him tight, my quivering voice said, “Josh, Auntie loves you.” Short pause to absorb the moment, then – “But if you ever do that again, I will beat the living daylights out of you!” Poor little guy – one minute having fun, and the next hearing the threat of great bodily harm.

Amazing the lengths we will go to to find our kids. For some, their kid went missing years ago. Sadly there was no panic, no search, not even the slightest realization that the kid had disappeared.

Which kid was it? It was the kid who showed us the wonder of life, the one who gave us our dreams – it was the kid within.

It was interesting the two thoughts that crossed my mind when my nephew was “missing”. First, I thought, “he’s lost”. Then I thought, “He’s been kidnapped”. Either scenario would be devastating. Your kid is gone. But when you think in terms of “lost”, there is hope for “found”. When you think in terms of “kidnapped”, the possibilities become much more troubling. Someone has snatched your kid. Against their will the child’s fate is in the hands of another; someone who does not understand the value of that kid in your life; someone who does not recognize or respond to the child’s pleas and cries to be returned.

If you’ve determined your inner-kid is missing, you must next determine where he/she went. Are they simply lost; somewhere along the way they’ve taken a wrong turn, walked down the wrong aisle. They’re circling the clothes rack, your adult-self circling close behind, just missing each other. Just missing each other, but still within reach.

If your inner-kid is “lost”, challenge yourself to “seek and find”. Call out to your kid; call him/her by name. Don’t rest until you hear that playful giggle. Strive to rediscover the joy that once defined a youthful heart that was filled with wonder and excitement and promise.

If you’ve determined your inner-kid was “kidnapped”, the recovery process may be more complex. Someone or something has taken the kid that once defined your heart. An event, a word, or a situation stole the kid – changing life forever. Imagination and dreams slowly lost their enthusiasm. Joy finally died, leaving the kid to disappear into a dark and lonely seclusion.

If your inner-kid is “kidnapped”, challenge yourself to embark on a “rescue mission”. Write down a description of the kid you remember. Identify the threats that changed what should have been. Realize that the adult you have become is the only one who can overcome unfortunate events and locate the kid you once were. Then, invest whatever’s necessary – sensitivity, understanding, patience, forgiveness – to perform the rescue and bring your kid into the light.

The two of you are meant to walk life together. So, where is your kid?

Wise Words

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; the become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

~ Frank Outlaw

Live in 3D

In 1937 Walt Disney introduced movies in 2D. They were enjoyable and impressive, but more importantly, his creation had the potential to develop into something amazing – what we know today as 3D.

I think that’s how God creates all of us. He puts talents and gifts, dreams and passions inside each of us. It’s only when we tap into that potential and live our dreams awake that life enters the realm of 3D. Full of color and dimension, wonder and amazement.

Purpose to live in 3D – follow your dreams, use your talents, and consistently express your potential. And through the richness of your life, you will impress and inspire all those around you.

The Art of Young at Heart

In 1975, the band Chicago had a top ten hit called “Old Days”. It was a song of nostalgia and reminiscence, a longing for days gone by.

Old days, good times I remember
Fun days, filled with simple pleasures
Drive-in movies, comic books and blue jeans
Howdy Doody, baseball cards and birthdays
Take me back, to a world gone away
Memories, seem like yesterday
Old days

Old days, good times I remember
Gold days, days I’ll always treasure
Funny faces, full of love and laughter
Funny places, summer nights and streetcars
Take me back, to a world gone away
Boyhood memories, seem like yesterday
Old days

When we step into the realm of adulthood, juggling personal and professional responsibilities, it’s easy to lose sight of life’s simple joys. Without much effort they quickly become recollections of long ago, daydreams marked by sentimental sighs. What we fail to understand is that the bridge between treasured memories and the present is simply “a moment”. A moment we purposefully dedicate to reviving the wonder and joy once found in our hearts.

So Whimspiration issues this Double-Dog Dare! Sometime this week find a moment to…

Sit on the porch and eat a Popsicle.

Recall childhood stories with family or friends. Start the conversation with, “Remember when…”.  Laugh until your soul is fed.

Sing theme songs from your favorite childhood TV shows.

Teach your kids or grandkids how to play jacks, or pick-up sticks, or marbles in the dirt. Play hide and go seek.

Whatever your double-dog dare is, purposefully dedicate a moment to bring your most treasured memories to life.


“When I grow up, I want to be a little boy.” ~ Joseph Heller


“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Princess Patricia and Dot

Recently my 82 year-old mom lost her driving privileges, which meant my sisters and I would be responsible for taking her shopping, to church, and to her church-related activities. Because my oldest sister, Dot, is retired, she was given the Tuesday task of taking my mom to several convalescent homes where she and her fellow congregants sing hymns, pray, and share words of encouragement with the residents.

My sister, who has never met a stranger, quickly befriended a lady named Patricia. Patricia could not speak, instead communicating through grunts and simple eye contact. As my sister got to know Patricia, it became evident that in addition to the speech limitation, she was also developmentally delayed. Having grown up with an uncle and aunt with the same limitations, Dot was able to assess Patricia’s capacity to be comparable to an 8 year-old.

Dot later learned that Patricia was 56 years-old, and had no family – at least none that had ever communicated with her during her lengthy stay at the convalescent home. Needless to say, Tuesdays and Dot quickly became a highlight of Patricia’s week. She would anxiously watch as the church group strolled through the doors of the recreation room, and once she spotted Dot, her eyes would light up and she’d begin grunting to make sure Dot knew she was there waiting for her. Dot would always greet her with a hug, and often Patricia’s eyes would fill with tears at the gesture of kindness. And there the two would sit for the next hour – church buddies and friends.

But on one Tuesday when Dot entered the recreation room, Patricia was not there, nor was she among the late arrivals being escorted in by the staff. Dot quickly followed one of the nurses into the hallway to ask where Patricia was, but following their protocol, the nurse explained she could give no information because Dot was not family.

There’s one thing about Dot – in addition to never meeting a stranger, she is fiercely devoted to her friends. So she proceeded to ask every nurse she passed until one finally whispered, “Mercy Hospital”.

After the services were completed for the day, Dot drove to the hospital in search of Patricia. Finally she found her in a dimly lit room on the second floor looking lost and alone. When Patricia saw Dot, her face lit up and she began to cry. Dot cried too. Because of the oxygen mask, Patricia could not express herself with grunts, so Dot simply asked questions, with Patricia squeezing her hand, or blinking twice for yes and once for no. The visit ended after about an hour with Dot promising Patricia that she’d be back tomorrow. Patricia blinked twice, confirming the date.

The next day Dot took a bouquet of colorful balloons and a stuffed gray rabbit to Patricia. Her elation was undeniable as her smile extended from ear to ear while rubbing the soft bunny fur across her cheek. Dot told her that if she ever felt alone or scared, to just hold the rabbit close and it would be like she was there with her. They named the rabbit “Dot”.

Having seen Dot’s generosity toward Patricia, and Patricia’s response toward Dot, the hospital nursing staff began to ask if she was family. They explained that no one else had been there to see her, nor had anyone else expressed interest in her condition or care. Dot explained their short but strong connection, and offered her phone number as a contact. Staff gladly accepted, adding that Dot’s presence seemed to bring great joy to Patricia’s otherwise lonely and quiet days.

As she talked with the nurse, Dot learned that Patricia’s condition was serious – they described her as “fragile” with heart and kidney concerns. Dot instructed them to call her anytime day or night, especially if things took a grave turn, expressing her wish that Patricia not die alone. The hospital staff agreed to keep her informed.

On Palm Sunday while I was sitting in church, I began thinking about the unlikely and amazing friendship between Dot and Patricia, and I began to wonder if her child’s mind understood the gravity of the situation. I also wondered if the aloneness and her inability to connect with people was creating apprehension or fear that she wasn’t able to express.

So as the church service was winding down, I wrote a short and simple expression that I hoped would give Patricia comfort in the midst of her aloneness. After church I called Dot and asked if she would read it to Patricia the next day when she went to visit. She agreed, so I took the message to her along with a gift for Patricia.

That Monday when Dot walked into her hospital room, Patricia’s face lit up and her eyes filled with tears. They embraced, and after their cryptic exchange of pleasantries, Dot asked if she could tell her a story. Patricia smiled big and blinked twice. Dot read the following:

The Bible says that God is the King over all the earth. And He has this amazing kingdom called Heaven. Heaven is beautiful – it has streets made of gold and palaces made out of diamonds, and the sky is always bright blue. It has beautiful flowers and trees, and all sorts of animals that we can play with. Heaven is filled with singing and laughter, and everybody is friendly and caring and loving. And God decided since it was such a special place, that He wanted everyone He loved to come live with Him there. So God decided to adopt everyone who loved Him.

At this point Dot paused and asked, “And you love God, don’t you?” Patricia squeezed her hand tightly. Dot continued. So you know what that makes you, Patricia? It makes you a daughter of God. And since God is a King, and you’re His daughter, that makes you a princess.

With that declaration Dot pulled out a Disney Princess Barbie doll and presented it to Patricia. Dot said her face beamed as she held the doll in a tight embrace. And with the story told, Dot now referred to her friend as “Princess Patricia”.

Having noticed during the visit that Patricia had declined over a matter of days, Dot visited her a second time that day. Their visit ending with a promise to come back on Wednesday. Patricia blinked twice, her princess doll laying on the pillow beside her head.

On Wednesday morning Dot received a call that Patricia had been minimally responsive through the night, and that the smiles she usually had for the nurses when they came into her room had been replaced by quietness. When Dot arrived there was little communication between them, just a brief opening of her eyes to acknowledge her presences. When Dot left that night, she placed a kiss on Princess Patricia’s forehead, whispered “I love you” close to her ear, and wished her “sweet dreams”.

On Friday, Good Friday, Dot received a call that Patricia was nearing the end of life, and she immediately rushed to her side. Dot held her hand and whispered to a now unresponsive Patricia how exciting it would be when she could talk and laugh and sing. And just after midnight, Princess Patricia experienced her last breath on this earth, and her first moment of wholeness in Heaven.

There’s an amazing story in the Bible about Esther, a Jewish girl who was brought into a palace and bestowed the role and distinction of queen. At that time her people were being oppressed – their future set for certain annihilation. As Esther contemplated the significance of all that was unfolding, she failed to recognize God’s preparation and orchestration. That is until her uncle challenged her to consider – perhaps you are in this place of influence “for such a time as this.”

I thought about that story as I reflected on the friendship between Dot and Patricia. I realized that God had been busy orchestrating a true friend for Patricia for the most vulnerable time in her life.

The unfortunate circumstance that cancelled my mom’s driving privileges was setting the stage for Dot to be at that convalescent home, where a friendship that would have never been was meant to be. It was part of God’s amazing grace to bring Dot into a place of influence “for such a time as this.” She was the right person, in the right place, at the right time. She fulfilled God’s call in that situation, and in doing so, Patricia left this life loved by her very good friend.

When opportunities, sometimes disguised as inconveniences or unfortunate circumstances, come our way, may we always remember that God is an amazing planner – the ultimate architect, the premier orchestrator – and that He may be leading us to a specific purpose, a deliberate encounter, a designed moment – for such a time as this.

What Are We Waiting For?

Waiting For Tomorrow
Mandisa

“I can’t live my whole life wasting
All the grace that I know You’ve given,
Cause You made me for so much more
Than sitting on the sidelines.
I don’t want to look back and wonder
If good enough could have been better,
Every day’s a day that’s borrowed
So why am I waiting for tomorrow.”

As long as we have breath, there will be need for change and growth. When we ask for God’s grace, He is faithful to transform our habits, our struggles, our mess – into His best.  Why wait?

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