Archive for June, 2007

As we worshiped our Father God in church on Father’s Day, what occurred to me was that what every little girl really wants (and needs) is the approval of her father. Every little girl wants to know that her Daddy is proud of her. Maybe every little boy needs that, too. I don’t know, but I imagine it’s true.

One thing that revolutionized my spiritual life a number of years ago was developing the strong understanding that God DELIGHTS in me — that I am His delight! Wow! He doesn’t just love me, He enjoys me.

I’m so happy and blessed to have the approval of my Heavenly Father.

I’m also blessed to have had the approval of my earthly father…I just didn’t understand that all the time. I had to become an adult (and not a young adult) before I began to understand my Dad. My aunt said it best in her comments about Dad in his guest book — Dad never hesitated to let us know when he thought we were messing up — that was for our own good, of course.

So Dads — don’t hesitate to show your daughters how much you love and approve of them.

And everyone — God is infinitely delighted in you! That’s worthy of celebration!

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Losing a parent is like joining a club you’ve never wanted to join. It is an experience unlike any other (not that I’ve had all “other” experiences, of course). And it so totally changes you forever. One thing this process has taught me is that there is a whole lot more to the spiritual realm than we understand. Why is it that there is an “emptiness” or a “nothing-ness” where that person once existed? My brother, for example, lives in S. Carolina. He saw dad seldom. He didn’t talk to him very often. Yet he senses the “nothing-ness” of dad that wasn’t there before. I sense it too, of course, but I’m local. It is very strange.

Anyway, that’s not what this blog is about! (Sure seems like it, doesn’t it?)

This blog is about “the club” that no one wants to join. The club for people who have lost a parent. Everyone who is in the club understands what you’re going through. Everyone not in the club doesn’t begin to understand. I don’t say this to denigrate those who aren’t in the club. It’s just that I’ve been fascinated at how people in the club treat me differently from people outside the club.

It’s been 2.5 months since my dad died. People who are in the club still have a strong compassion in their voice when they ask me how I’m doing. It’s just never “Hi! How are you?” in that “it’s the common way to greet people” tone of voice. The voice, the look, the hug all convey “I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I know how hard it is and if I can do anything to help, please call me.” Even if I say in an upbeat voice “I’m doing well.” They look at me a second time to confirm that my words ring true with my behavior and appearance. (Yes, folks, that’s love in action.)

People who aren’t in the club yet have pretty much forgotten that I had a life-altering experience a couple of months ago. They’re surprised that I might still be dealing with any part of it. That’s OK. I’m surprised I’m still dealing with it, too. Within about 2 weeks people who aren’t in the club went back to the “Hi! How are you?” greeting. These people don’t in any lack love, they’re just not in the club yet so they don’t understand what’s happened.

I watched Phil grieve when his mom died. I did what I could. But I wasn’t in the club yet. And as my dad was dying, sometimes I’d say something and Phil would look at me with very sad eyes that kindly conveyed “you don’t understand what’s about to happen.” He was in the club. I wasn’t. I guess I was in training for the club, though.

I’m not writing this to evoke sympathy. I really am doing pretty well most of the time these days. I freak out a little easier than the “normal” Sandy does, but most of the time I’m good. It has just fascinated me that I feel like I’ve joined the club that no one wants to be a part of.

Comment from dansdesk
100% agree! Sometimes, I desperately want people to feel some sympathy for how I am feeling but then I get mad at myself for feeling sorry for myself. You said it well. Those who haven’t experienced it don’t understand it as well as those who haven’t. That certainly applies to many other situations in life — single parenting, loss of a child, loss of a job, serious illness, etc. Thanks for being so articulate!
Friday June 15, 2007 – 12:27pm (EDT)

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Psalm 139: 3a You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest.

Scripture is so full of “resting” and we so often miss it. We pray about and assure ourselves that God will lead and guide us, and of course He does. But our prayers are always leading and guiding us to action.

Scripture also teaches us that he leads and guides us to rest. I wonder how often we miss that lead? And I wonder what the price is?

In the Old Testament, the Hebrews were taken into the Babylonian captivity for 70 years. God didn’t just make up that timeframe — 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 explains to us that during the captivity “the land finally enjoyed it’s Sabbath rest, lying desolate for seventy years, just as as the prophet had said.”

I’m convinced that practicing a Sabbath is a discipline that honors God and from which we gain immeasurable benefits, but that’s the subject for another blog. For today, I am just surprised at Psalm 139. God tells us where to stop and rest.

Lord, let me hear you when you tell me to stop and rest.

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OK, this will be my last blog about that community prayer meeting last week…and I won’t always be blogging about dancing, I promise, but it was a special night of worship.

During worship/intercession last Monday night, a young mother began to dance. It wasn’t ballet-type dancing, but a more “freestyle” dancing. Soon her two young sons came into the sanctuary. I watched as they went over to their mom and began to dance with her. Shortly after that her teenage daughter joined the family dance. When the mom looked up and saw her daughter’s friend sitting nearby she invited her to join the dance. This is a “normal” family with the normal ups and downs, trials, tribulations and successes that all families have. As I watched them, my only thought was “what lasting memories those children have.” As their father led the worship team, they danced with joy in the Lord with their mom. Now THAT’s family values and family “entertainment” at its best.

Praise God for parents who dance with their children.

Comment by Shanna
aweee..shucks! Thank you. I Love to dance with my kids. They really get into it. God’s really blessed me (with nearly perfect kids). I love to watch them in the presence of the King.

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A few days ago I blogged about God invading our churches. It was about a prayer made during a community wide worship and prayer meeting. Here’s something else that came out of that meeting.

WARNING: If dancing is against your theology, you might want to suspend that prohibition for the next few minutes.

During worship at a recent community prayer meeting, the beat transitioned from gentle praise to the anticipation of a battle. As it grew stronger and stronger, my feet began to move in time, as if marching in formation as the Lord called out His army. But as I marched in place and the beat grew ever stronger, my feet began to “itch” to do something fancier. My thought was “Lord, this is a call to war beat, not a dancing beat. Our prayer focus now is calling men of the church to arise and take their place.” I felt God answer, “Dance, daughter, dance.”
Still I resisted because it wasn’t a time of dance, it was a time of marching (according to my brain). Yet my feet and spirit continued to say “dance.”

So I began to dance…a little. And as I began to move my feet in dance instead of in marching, God reminded me that dancing before Him is as much a part of warfare as marching to battle is. In fact, I believe there are times when dancing is stronger warfare. Our strength, our greatest weapon, is the elevation of Jesus. Our marching demonstrates to the enemy that we are on the move against Him. Our dancing shows the enemy that the Lord is our delight. It is that delight that is our greatest weapon against the things the enemy will throw at us to ruin our witness and our lives…he will put before us lies that will discourage us, de-motivate us, distress us, and deter us from pursuing our One True Purpose – to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

So I’ll march to war, but when I get to the battlefield, I hope to be dancing. Because the dance says “Satan, let me introduce you to my Savior, Christ. He is my delight and He is my life’s dance partner. Anything you have to say to me, you can say to Him. He’ll handle it.”

Let’s dance!

Comment from Shanna
What a night! I couldn’t stop, I was so overtaken by the Spirit in dance I thought I was going to explode. Watching the Lord overcome the children into dance was beautiful. The flow from dance to falling on my face before the King-What an awesome God that wants to just dance with you. I always enjoy watching you worship (not tahat I stare) but you have really helped me to step out in my own dance. Sandy you are an amazing woman of God, I look up to you more than you could ever imagine… Keep on dancin’!
Monday June 11, 2007 – 03:07pm (EDT)

Response from Sandyhov
Yep, what a night. Read the next blog — it’s about you!
Tuesday June 12, 2007 – 10:43pm (EDT)

Comment from Shanna
hey its tayler- hi nice blog, and thank u for your comments about us!
Tuesday June 12, 2007 – 11:36pm (EDT)

Comment from dansdesk
I’m jealous — as a Baptist and as someone in the grieving process!
Wednesday June 13, 2007 – 03:40pm (EDT)

Response from Sandyhov..
Hey Dan — you could always bust a move some Wednesday night! 🙂
Wednesday June 13, 2007 – 09:06pm (EDT)

Comment from dansdesk
Amanda and I were at a “non-church” wedding a couple of weekends ago and she was planning on showing me a few moves but we had to get home for the Cavs game and to finish up my SS lesson.
Thursday June 14, 2007 – 11:32am (EDT)

Response from Sandyhov
Thursday June 14, 2007 – 08:15pm (EDT)

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So if you read my last entry you’d know that I made an error in formatting of the entries from Dad’s Online Guest Book and that caused me to experience a wave of grief. Well, today we went and had new copies made…and in the process saw that the color laser printer we’ve been considering went down in price $125 from Friday when we printed the wrong version of the Guest Book. So a little bit of time and grief saved us $125 (because yes, we bought the printer). I’m praising God today for the error that gave me a reason to return to the store today.

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I guess I should warn you. I’m still grieving the death of my dad. I say still, but it’s only been two and a half months. Experts say it’ll take lots longer.

Anyway, the upshot is that I’m somewhat emotionally unstable right now. That’s normal I understand, but it sure is unpleasant. I can be “dancing” one minute and desperately trying not to be pulled down in the undertow of a wave of grief the next.

Most of the time I’m doing pretty well. But I feel like Father’s Day is this huge dark monster that is barreling toward me wanting to smother me.

There’s been one task I just can’t bring myself to do. We had an online guest book for Dad and I downloaded all the entries and have formatted them into an attractive book. For the life of me I haven’t been able to walk into Staples and get it copied. Just can’t do it.

So Phil did it for me today. It looks great. I put two copies in envelopes to my sister and brother. Then I actually looked at it. It’s missing the first entry — the one I wrote to my dad. I thought they had made a printing error, so I went into my PDF file. My PDF was wrong. So I assumed that I had replaced a page incorrectly or something. No, my original document is wrong. And I no longer have any other resource to find what I had written. I lost it (not the paper, my emotional control). (I can’t believe how important this is to me.)

Then I remembered that I had thrown away a printout from the online guest book. Months ago. Would it still be in my throw-away paper box? I started going through it, page by page, not expecting to find anything. I hadn’t sifted through 20 pages before I found it! Trust me, it should not have been there. I threw it away about May 1st and I throw away LOTS of paper every day. For it to be at the top of the box is nothing but the grace of God. Thank You, Lord.
So I will ask Phil to go back to Staples and make new copies. It’s worth the additional $18. It’s worth the hassle. We had no memorial service. This is the only “tribute” I have.

Having written this, I know there are several “lies” in it. Not lies I am telling, lies the enemy is telling me. Of course it’s not my only “tribute” to Dad. The best tribute to him is a life well lived. Scripture teaches us to honor our father and mother, that we may have a long life. Honoring one’s parents doesn’t end when their earthly life ends.

And of course, the dark monster of Father’s Day grief isn’t going to smother me. In fact, if my limited experience in this teaches me anything, the anticipation of it will be worse than the actual day. (OK, so stop anticipating it, right?) At most, the monster will cloud out the sun for a day and then go back into hiding.

Grief come in waves and they’re waves that are best succumbed to for a time. Not wallowed in, but not resisted either. Both are unhealthy. Neither promotes emotional healing. I wish there was a magic pill that brought instant healing. Because this is no fun. But I’m reminded of a line in worship song that is one of my favorites — “When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say — Blessed be the Name of the Lord, blessed be the Name. Blessed be the Name of the Lord, Blessed be Your Glorious Name.”

I thank God for His grace toward me and toward my Dad. And I thank Him for healing, because I am so much better today, June 8th, than I was on April 8th or May 8th.

I hate the narcistic nature of this blog, but perhaps it will minister to someone. God remains good and He remains faithful. All the time.

Comment by dansdesk…
I don’t think I’ve handled my mom’s death near as well as you have your dads. I’ve been mulling over some similar blogs related to my grieving process. We should continue to compare “notes” because I’m certainly not healing as quickly as I would have liked. Dan Ghramm
Wednesday June 13, 2007 – 03:38pm (EDT)

Response by Sandyhov
The thing I have found to be most helpful have been:
(1) Reading about grieving — it assures me that I’m not losing my mind and that everything I’m going through is normal.
(2) Listening a teaching by a strong Christian teacher — it assured me that it’s OK to be this messed up even as a Christian.(
3) Cutting myself lots of slack. In the Jewish culture, the sit Shiva (sp?) for a month after a death…then they resume normal life activity. I think there’s lots of wisdom in that. I know I’m easily overwhelmed (less so all the time, but still more so than the “normal” Sandy) so I build more downtime into my schedule — even if it means not participating in things that other people expect me to participate in.
(4) Of course lots of praying friends. This has got me thinking…I think I’ll blog about the “club” aspect of losing a parent…later tonight or tomorrow. Peace to you my friend.
Thursday June 14, 2007 – 08:21pm (EDT)

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Once a month our church and another church meet together to pray for God to move in our city, our region and our country. Tonight, Pastor Rob prayed for churches from all traditions, and then prayed “God invade our meetings.”

As we prayed, it occurred to me that God invading our meetings will look very different in different traditions. It’s usually charismatics and Pentecostals that make such prayers and, quite frankly, whether they admit it or not, they probably have it in their minds that very, shall we say, “non-traditional” things will happen. Things that you wouldn’t find in a Baptist or a Presbyterian church.

Yet I remain a firm believer that denominations, despite their difficulties, have strong benefits and that they have each played their role in the preservation of one or more “pillars” of the faith. (Read Rick Joyner’s great book The Final Quest for more thoughts on this.) And so, God invading the churches of different denominations will look very different. The Presbyterians are historically strong in scholarship; the Lord invading their meetings in a fresh way would naturally lead to greater scholarship today and that scholarship could lead to both greater revelation and evangelism of the intellectuals. (I think we’d all agree that the intellectuals need evangelized, right?) Baptists are strong in organized evangelism; a fresh invasion of the Holy Spirit would naturally revitalize their love for the Lord and passion for the lost. As the Catholics’ love for the Lord is renewed by a fresh outpouring within their churches, the beauty of the Lord and tradition that connects modern saints with saints throughout the history of the church would be raised to new heights. When God invades the Methodist church anew, spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines will be given greater attention. New life will be breathed into personal holiness as God invades Nazarene churches.

That’s certainly not all denominations, but imagine, how much more “ready” the Bride will be when each of these pillars is strengthened? Then, as the Church becomes One in Christ, as we learn to love our brethren across denominations, how much greater, how much richer, will the teachings be that we offer to one another in our areas of strength? A phrase comes to mind… “The Bride has made herself ready.”

Lord, invade our meetings…all of them…and help us to grow in our love for one another as we reflect Christ.

comment from dansdesk…
What about the Friends? 🙂
Wednesday June 13, 2007 – 03:28pm (EDT)

comment from sandyhov
As a denomination…missions…social justice (they were very big in the underground railroad & freeing slaves).
Saturday June 16, 2007 – 12:23am (EDT)

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The instructions [on the service I used for my first blog] said…Compose a first blog entry that is sure to impress. I’m not sure this will impress, perhaps it’s more likely to annoy, but here goes…

So I finally started a blog. (Actually, I started it on 6/3 and “practiced” for several days before committing. Having decided to “commit,” I’m posting my original and a few other blogs from the past week.)

I’ve been thinking about blogging for a long time…but just never jumped before. Lots of pros and cons kept me from taking the plunge:

– I have always viewed myself as a writer. Blogging provides both an outlet and a motivation to be disciplined.
– I already journal regularly. My Journal for 2007 is more than 30 pages…but there hasn’t been an entry in more than a week.

– Can I sustain a blog? Without regular entries, they waste away on the vine.
– In all honesty, blogs just seem a bit too egotistical for me to be totally comfortable with them. Who really cares what I think about subjects ranging from…well, whatever to whatever? I find many blogs to be pretty self-focused and largely boring with the occasional really, really good insight thrown in. I don’t want to add to the inane-ness of it all.
– I’m not sure how comfortable I am writing a self-disclosing blog, and I don’t think anything less has value.
– Then there’s the time commitment of a blog that has regular, meaningful entries.
Having said all that, perhaps it’s time to begin blogging. The sooner I start, the sooner I can learn from my mistakes, right? I’ll try to keep it interesting. Hope you enjoy it.

Comment by Shanna
good job! Way to put yourself out there. This will be good. I would love to do something like this someday… but not today. 🙂 I love to hear your insight, looking forward to more. Love ya!
Saturday June 9, 2007 – 11:24pm (EDT)

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