Monthly Archives: March 2012

Beyond Understanding

Last weekend, I attended a memorial service for a 7-year-old girl who lost her battle against cancer.  I will say right away that I do not understand why children have cancer or other dreadful maladies that take these precious souls away from us. I cannot imagine the loss to her family. Such an event cannot possibly leave a family unchanged.

As much as we do not like it, we can accept the cycle of life when someone dies at an advanced age, but to die so young seems so unreasonable. We know that people of every age die at the hands of accidents, negligence and the “free will” choices of others, but many medical maladies seem so far out of our control. Maybe someday we will find the answer that unlocks the secret to cancer and stop its runaway growth. I certainly hope so.

The pastor said that there is no explanation or reason that might comfort the family. I dug around my own thoughts looking for a reason. I thought about the fall of man at the beginning but even that didn’t satisfy my hunger for something understandable.

More than 30 years ago, Gary Mervis founded Camp Good Days and Special Times for his daughter, Teddi Mervis and 62 other children with cancer from Upstate New York. I am not directly familiar with this organization but I can easily imagine that this group not only brings fun and confidence to the kids but celebrates their undefeatable spirit. The founder not only poured out his love for his daughter and others like her, but allowed so many more to demonstrate their love as well.

In the newspaper after the memorial service was held, there was a comment about the little girl from her mother, I believe, that cancer was just a word. I can believe that, since children do not tend to dwell on their problems but look for the next moment of magic.

Death, of course, is a part of life. For some, it is the end. For others, it is a new beginning to something greater – a mere transition from here to the hereafter. I am not sure that death is much of a barrier for God. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after four days. (John 11) Jesus commanded his apostles to raise the dead. (Matt 8:10) Peter raised Tabitha from the dead. (Acts 9:36-43) Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:7-12). Jesus himself was resurrected and a resurrection was promised to all those who believe. For many of us, this is a comforting thought but those of us left behind miss our loved one’s presence. Their memories in our minds and hearts keep them alive for us here, even as they live on in paradise.

I cannot imagine the intense feeling of losing a child. I can only sympathize with those who have lost children for any reason. Early childhood passing was common one hundred fifty years ago, but in our modern world of medicine and sanitation, it defies my sensibilities. My thoughts and prayers not only go out to the family effected last weekend but to all those families suffering with cancer or other medical maladies.  I suppose that children living with and dying of cancer is simply beyond my understanding.

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Bewildered Directions

   Over the last few weeks, we have been looking for a new home. Theresa and I want to be closer to family. We thought we had found the home we wanted but another made an offer that the owner accepted just two days before ours.

There have been many things in our lives that occurred in the last few months: Theresa had received full time employment; my job changed; Theresa’s father passed away; and we have decided to move. Our lives have experienced both positive and negative stressors.

Today, I learned that the seven year old daughter of a co-worker passed away from cancer. I cannot adequately find the words that can comfort such a loss, neither can I imagine the pain to lose someone so young. As faithful as I wish to be, this is one area where I have a problem with existence. No child should ever have cancer, but they do. Because they do, I can imagine the love and support that is poured out upon that child and their families. It gives people opportunities to care, to give and to love. But I still insist that no child should ever have cancer.

I was thinking about direction today. Each day, we have to choose where we will go and what we will do. We have to choose how we will react to the world around us. It isn’t always easy. We have to decide to stand still or move forward. But what direction is right? Where shall I go? I suppose the only way to go is forward after we carefully decide which way to turn.

Woodrow Wilson said, “We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. It is our duty to find ourselves.”  Woodrow Wilson left us in 1924. I am not sure when he said these words, but it shows that our looking for direction, purpose and a way to spend our energies, has been a persistent state.

With so many changes in our lives, both great and small, we must choose a direction. We must also ask for direction. If you believe in a greater force as I do, then you pray for God’s will. And even if you don’t, you should still seek out wise counsel from those that have vision.

May tomorrow bring you closer to your dreams. I think it’s that-a-way.

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Staging a House

Our house went on the market this week. I took a vacation for the week and ended up spending some of it “staging” the house for sale. The initial staging was to produce the profile pictures for the listing. My job was to de-clutter and de-personalize the house. I watched several videos on youtube and real estate sites to learn what I needed to do for the staging. Buyers want space, so the less there is in each room the better, especially the kitchen.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms in the house when it comes to selling. I had spent 100+ hours last year beautifying our kitchen, not for sale, but because I wanted to add beauty to our home. I spent several more hours beautifying the dining room. I am actually going to miss this house now that my artistic creations are part of the home.

Since we will be moving, packing up many of the things that define us is really preparation for the move as well as for staging the house. I hope that the new owners will appreciate the art that I added to the house, but if not, there really isn’t much I can do, except maybe offer to buy the cabinet doors if they demolish the kitchen for remodeling.

The bathroom has laminate counter tops. The edging had broken away and I could not find the right pattern to match it nor could I find edging that came close. Theresa had suggested metal moulding to go with the 1950s look bathroom. I couldn’t find that either so I applied wood moulding. It came out so much better than I expected. The stain came out a little bit blotchy, which was great, since it aged the piece. After it was attached, it looked as if it had been there all along. This was my first adventure in the cutting and installing moulding. I will definitely be using it as a decorative tool in our next home.

I am looking for a house with a solid structure and just awful décor inside. I can change the décor to surround Theresa with beauty. We are looking for a house that speaks to us, that invites us to make a home.

Selling the idea of home is the whole purpose of staging. Staging is to depersonalize the space so that the buyer can better imagine their possessions in that space. Of course, my definition of home differs, as you may well know. I want our next house to be a place of comfort and respite, a place away from the rigors of life. Calming colors, colorful plants both real and artificial, and lots of natural light make our house more of a vacation spot than merely four walls and a roof.

Not all the homes we have seen have been staged, but I have no problem imagining our possessions or potential for space or décor. God gave us all imaginations, some more than others, but some to all of us. When we were children, our imagination was endless. We believed in magic. We could envision almost anything. Our God is one of endless possibilities. God has staged the world for us. Dare to imagine, dare to dream.