On the Importance of being Quiet

(I wrote this last month while spending time with my family at the cottage of some friends of ours.)

Quiet

Shh…..

Can you hear it? Uh, no?

That’s the point!

Quiet

It refreshes the soul

It helps you notice different things.

I went for a walk

And saw three deer standing in the road.

I stopped and watched them.

They stopped and watched me.

Would I have seen them in the car?

Nope – because scared by the noise, the second and third deer wouldn’t have came out on the road.

Looking down the road to see this guy walking and being quiet.

I slowly walked closer but was still a ways down the road.

“That’s close enough” and off they ran into the woods.

I turned and resumed my walk.

Taking notice of the quiet.

Sitting by the lake as the sun sets

the boats are all in for the day

And then you hear it.

Quiet conversation around a campfire – but where? 

Oh look – it’s from across the lake.

In the quiet of the evening, 

important sounds no longer get drowned out

by sounds that don’t matter

By sounds that don’t matter.

Laughter is no longer covered up by the sound of noisy boats.

The need for TV noise is replaced by the desire for outdoor quiet.

Quiet – it’s something we all need.

Quiet – it’s something we rarely get.

I’ve come to appreciate quiet a lot more since January 30, 2018. That’s the day I lost most of my quiet.

Tinnitus is what they call it.   

Constant sound in my head – that’s what I call it

sometimes loud and obnoxious, sometimes softer and just annoying.

When my damaged ears have to compete with the noise in my head, 

there really is no winner.

So what do you do?

I’m still working on that one.  

But you value the quiet you have

Even when there is sound trying to get away.

Enjoy

The

Quiet

TJV

Facebook says….

“So what’s on your mind?”

So what do you know?

What’s happening?

How are ya doing?

Lots of people ask those questions.

I don’t think they really want to know the answers.

I’m not sure I know how to answer them.
What do I know? How much time do you have?

I know that we live in a very noisy world and if you can’t hear it all, you miss out. Even if you just miss the part you were supposed to hear.

I know it’s an oxymoron to be hard of hearing and overly sensitive to loud noises at.the.same.time. (But it’s true)

I know that saying, “no” is hard to do. But saying no to some things enables you to say yes to others.

I know that the kindness of strangers is a powerful thing.  So be one.

I know that…..

What’s happening?

My youngest started her senior year in high school. My next oldest starts college next week. 

How did they do that without me getting any older?

I know that “denial” is more than just a river in Egypt. 🙂

I know that every day there are people around you and around me who are hurting. 

They don’t need us to solve their problems (at least not some of them), they just need someone to see them, to hear them and to say that they matter.

Kids are starting school – which means people who drive cars near schools need to be extra careful.

Kids are starting school – which means there are a lot of kids who are stressed out – be nice to someone today – they probably need it.

Unseen medical conditions often lead to misunderstood and lonely people.

Someone with a chronic illness, especially an unseen one, is more than their illness and deserves to be seen that way.

Relate to them as people first, medical condition second.

If you ask “how are you doing?” Be prepared for an answer. 

It’s worse to ask the question and not wait for an answer than it would be to just say, “Hi!” Or “Good to see you!”

The ache to be “normal” is very strong – especially in those battling chronic illnesses.
When your “normal” is changed by a chronic illness, it’s a tough thing to have to work through.

When your answer to how you are doing includes a reference to Google, then you know that you are “special” – “I’ve been dealing with an AVM for 41 years.” “What’s an AVM?” “It’s a problem with the blood vessels in my shoulder, neck and up into my head. Google it if you want to know more.”

And we put one foot in front of the other….

TV

Seeing God in the Cafeteria

(Note, this actually happened on May 30 – it’s just taken me a few days to get it to the point of feeling it is ready to share). A few weeks ago, I wrote about a concert that the Potter’s House Gospel Choir gave. It gave me hope. You can read that here.

This morning, I saw something else.

I saw promise.

I saw promises made and promises that came true.

Come with me.

It’s about 7:10 and the principal and a few other staff are putting the finishing touch on lining up chairs in the cafeteria. There’s a great big circle of chairs.

Hmmm, this doesn’t look like the prayer services that I’ve been at before.

A few of the seniors come in, a few parents do as well. No one is quite sure what to do. But the kids know and they start sitting down in the circle of chairs.

Before long all of the chairs are filled by students. Around the circle, parents and teachers are just kind of wandering, talking amongst themselves. Sharing relief that their student made it, sharing the happiness of an accomplishment, sharing stories of growth (and stories of white water rafting and baseball games at 2:00 in the morning in the Indianapolis airport).

Little by little over the next 10 to 15 minutes, people drift in. And then all of the chairs are full and the principal welcomes all of us to a time of prayer. He opens with a prayer and then says that for the next 30 minutes or so, it’s time to pray for the seniors.

And then it happened.

It started with just a few quiet prayers. And it grew.

And it grew.

Parents praying for their own kids.

Parents praying for their kids friends.

Parents praying for the kids of their friends.

Teachers praying for every student.

Teachers from the middle school came over to pray for these “their” students.

Administrators praying over every student individually.

Prayers of thanks for what God has done for them. And through them.

Prayers of support as they venture into the “unknown.”

Giving thanks and celebrating God’s promises kept.

Claiming God’s promises into the future.

And you could feel the atmosphere shift in the cafeteria. It wasn’t the lunch room at school.

It was a place of worship. And God was doing something special.

He was saying, “These are my children. I’ve got them.”

“I promise.”

Just as the parents were feeling the emotions of a milestone, whether easy or hard, God was saying, “Have hope for the future. I’ve got them.”

Just as the seniors were feeling the mixed emotions that come at a time like this, God was saying, “Have hope, my child, I’ve got you. Trust me and hold on to my promises”

I’ve seen hope and I’ve seen promise.

And I see a class of high school graduates who have both and have them for such a time as this.

God is good, all the time.

TV

For Such a Time as This – I Miss my Dad

For such a time as this….. I wish my Dad was here.

For the joys of graduation celebrations….I wish my Dad was here.

For the relief but also the stepping into the unknown, I wish my Dad was here.

Dad was a wise man. But that’s not where his true gifts lied. His true gift was his ability to listen to people and know and affirm their value. Their value in God’s eyes.

For the calming sense of someone walking with you through anything, I wish my Dad was here. I can’t tell you how often I have wanted to discuss my medical issues with him and get his opinion on something. I can’t do that right now and I miss having those times.

For milestones missed, though I’m convinced that those who have gone to heaven before us are still taking part in the milestones. I still wish my Dad was here.

For discussions about the state of the church and the message it sends to those who don’t regularly go to church. I wish my Dad was here.

For witnessing the tear stained bear hug that Grandpa and grandson would have shared on that Graduation day, I miss my Dad and I wish my Dad was here.

For the conversations we’d have about things that he was doing at Seminary (because if he was still here, we all know he would still be working at the Seminary pouring his heart and soul into the future church leaders.) I wish my Dad was here.

For ending out the work day with a soft drink and a chocolate chip cookie at Panera, I miss my Dad.

Many people have asked how we’re doing now that it’s been 14 months. Invariably in the discussion,, something attune to “Your Dad was a great man,” would be said.

But he wasn’t. He was an ordinary baptized little boy from Muskegon, Michigan who was given, very early in his life the call to follow what God’s up to. He let God use him and God gave him more than he could ever have asked and imagined.

God called. Howiie answered, and answered, and answered. He continues to answer God’s calls in the body of written work that he left us.

I miss my Dad. I miss him for me but I also miss him for my kids, for my wife, for my mom, for my siblings and their families too.

Thank you for reading, thank you for allowing me to share the grief struggles that come in ebbs and flows over time. I’ve heard it said that grief is not a process it’s a journey. A process moves smoothly and progresses from step 1 to 2 to 3 etc. until you get to the end and you are done. A journey doesn’t work that way. You don’t do step 1, cross it off the list and go on to step 2. You can be all over the place and all at pretty much the same time.

And it’s okay. And it’s okay to not be okay.

Thanks for reading,

Tom

P.S. Some medical issues of my own have sucked up more time lately and so I haven’t gotten into my dad’s writing nearly as much as I expected. It will come soon.