Monthly Archives: October 2016

The difference between understanding and knowing…

I suppose there’s always a calm before the storm, or maybe I just didn’t recognize it. It can be so very subtle. 

It had been four, almost five years since my dads death. Though things had been really good in life, spiritually speaking I was a train wreck. 

When I left the walls of the church and met the real world, I was ill prepared for it and all it had to offer. 

Though I’m sure I accepted a relationship with Jesus, as I was a deacon in the church; I only had an understanding of who He is and what He did, but didn’t really know Him. 

There’s such a huge difference. 

1 John 2:3 says:

“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.”

It doesn’t say we have come to understand him, it says we have come to know him.

I surely wasn’t following Him, nor keeping His commandments. 

Scripture also tells us in 1 John 4:8:

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Now let me be clear, I loved, but it was as the world loves, not as God loves. 

The difference between understanding and knowing God. 

A new day…

Life at church was really pretty good. Looking back now I can point out some pretty serious flaws in the church, but it’s much healthier looking at the myriad of positives.  

Both my mom and I got connected to groups. We both sang in our respective choirs. I became involved in the youth program and eventually became a deacon. I know it was there I found my servants heart. 

My mom even met her new husband at the church. A wonderful man!

So though things were not perfect, things were really pretty good!

A new day leading to a new life!

Only God. 

Healthy shadows 

The viewing and funeral came and went. Time waits for no man. You either get on board, get out of the way, or get run over. 

We were beginning to experience our new normal, like it or not. 

Part of that new normal was going to church. We had never been church goers.  Only on the important holidays really, but now in the midst of our new normal, we made every Sunday a holiday. 

Here we found a good supportive community for us to learn how to live in our new normal. For me, understanding that this new normal was ok and I’m ok. 

I learned that the healthy shadow is being able to find refuge in the shadow of His wings.  Though I didn’t know it then, I was living in Psalm 91:4. 

John 11:35

I wish I remembered my experience better. I do remember the darkness and the light like it was yesterday.

I do remember snippets, like when I came downstairs crying and my mom telling me they have been waiting for me to get to this point in my grief.

I do remember the following year during band practice, needing to find an empty room because our band director’s facial expressions reminded me of my dad and brought me to tears.

Truth be told, I am crying now, as I am writing this, and I still have moments at times throughout the years.

Grief is so very real and sometimes we don’t give it the time and respect it deserves.

Grief is a natural, expected part of our existence.

After all Jesus wept.

The darkness can never extinguish it

I remember it vividly. I was in the back yard burning trash, mostly paper. 

My brother and sisters where either home or on their way. The number of people and phone calls and decisions my mom had to make were overwhelming. 

I had never experienced a family death and all the chaos it entails. So, as I’m burning the trash, I feel this overwhelming feeling of grief. And it literally seemed like a dark veil. I used to describe it as a pitch black tunnel. I also remember seeing a light that appeared at what seemed to be the center of darkness.  

Though the grief was most definitely present, I did not feel overwhelmed by it anymore. 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 NLT

The face of death…

July 16th, 1979. 

This marks the beginning. In some ways it also marks the end. This is the day my life changed upon the death of my father, John Francis McDermott. 

I was fourteen and enjoying summer break from school. Sleeping in as was typical for me, I woke upon hearing my mom yelling at our dog, not at all typical. 

As I was walking out of my bedroom into the hall, I was met by my mom who was frantic. She told me not to go downstairs because their was something wrong with my father. 

Being the teenage boy I was, I went downstairs.  I found my dad on the couch in the family room. He was laying on his back, hands folded on his chest. He felt cold and his lips blue. We learned he died of a heart attack in his sleep. 

We believe he felt the symptoms sometime during the night and went down stairs. 

As a 14 year old who had never had to deal with the death of a family member before, I quickly found myself enveloped in what I can best describe as a dark veil. 

I felt overwhelmed with grief and didn’t know how to cope or what to do. 

The face of death was very real. 

In the beginning…

So here we are, on the farm.  It took along time to get here, let me tell you. I look back at where I’ve been and where I am now and think, only God.

I don’t look back in the manner that Lot’s wife looked back, there is a difference. I don’t look back longing for what was, but I look back in appreciation for what was and how it has been used to create what currently is.

To see how God has used the things of my past to mold me, build me, and teach me, only God.

There are a lot of things in my past who make up the me of today, but my beginning I ear mark at the age of 14.  It was July of 1979 and the time my father died.

It’s good to know where you started, as it helps to guide the recollection of the past, that brought you to the present, and help guides you into the future.

Only God.