Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Like a ton of other Americans, I don't give proper attention to Memorial Day.  I always usually take time to pause to try and think about the true meaning of the day... but (again) like a ton of other Americans, the day rushes by me in a "Welcome to Summer" kick-off rather than it's intended purpose.

This year is different.

This year, at 12:00am (on the dot!) of Memorial Day, I did some online shopping.  I bought a case for this flag:

My Daddy was a veteran.  We talked about his service throughout my life, but not to the extent that I totally grasped what he did.  He told more stories of what it was like hanging out with his Army buddies than of his duties... but I know his service changed him.

Now, like so many people across our country, I have this flag in my home (soon to be in my brother's) as a "thank you" for that service.

It's humbling.  And though my Daddy didn't lose his life while he was serving, he was a veteran.  For that, I am thankful.

I'm proud to be his daughter.

In memory.

Monday, May 7, 2012

a life of intention.

Less than 40 days after losing my Daddy, another one of my heroes is gone.  Wednesday night after Small Group we got another one of "those" calls... the calls that change your life.  Geoff... whose name you never heard me say without saying "...and Nicole".... died unexpectedly while heading up a basketball game with some friends from work.  That story is not mine to tell, but what I can tell you is about my friend, Geoff.

Geoff lived with intention.  He loved out loud.  He truly brought out the best in everyone around him.  Someone said at his funeral yesterday that "you hope you like yourself half as much as Geoff likes you"... and that is so true.  His laugh was genuine and contagious, and lawsy, he liked to eat.  We loved sharing meals with the Kugels because Geoff always appreciated good food... but he cared for the fellowship more.

Nicole and I met sometime around 2005 when our church did a discipleship focus called "Build".  Nicole and I ended up in the same Build group because of our crazy schedules- I was working at the Ronald McDonald House then.  The two of us- and a third friend, Kathy- got to know each other as we spent time growing together in our understanding of scripture late at night at Starbucks.  We memorized passages together, prayed, laughed, and began to weave our lives together.  Soon after that time, Geoff and Nicole began attending another church, but our lives were already committed to one another.  We walked through a time of mourning as we were still infertile, as her Mom was suffering through cancer, as Mary was diagnosed... then we rejoiced at Elizabeth's birth just months before her Mom went to be with the Lord.  We asked them to covenant with us to raise our daughter- as we saw in them qualities we wanted in our child before they were even parents themselves.  That fact became magnified as their son was born, and again just a year ago as they added a sweet baby girl to their lives.  By this point, "Geoff and Nicole" were stuck with the Johnstons... and we were blessed to be stuck with them.

The stories that poured out at Geoff's funeral yesterday were funny, precious, and poignant... and they all pointed back to Jesus in Geoff.  As we left the church, Dan looked at me through tear stained eyes and said, "that is exactly what you would want people to say about you when you are gone."  No truer words have ever been said- to live a life of intention... to live a life of purpose... to live a life of love... to live a life of Grace--- that's what Geoff did.

And that's why this pain hurts so much- with losing Geoff and losing Daddy- both of them lived big.  Both of them made you feel loved and cared for and like you were the most important person they knew.  They showed favor to those around them.  They put others' needs before their own.

I want to live like that.

In the days to come as the Lord brings Nicole to your mind... pray for them.  The pain rushes in at unforeseen times... I cannot imagine my world without Geoff, so I can't fathom what hers will be like.  But don't just pray.  Act.  Love those around you.  Treat someone to lunch.  Mow your neighbor's grass.  Send someone a card.  Scratch the back of your loved one.  Open the door for someone else.  Carry someone's groceries... shoot... buy someone's groceries.  Send that email you've meant to send.  Buy a friend a treat for no real reason.  Loan someone a good book.  Go swing at the park.  Get to know the name of the person who makes your coffee.  Support local businesses.  Walk downtown.  Call your brother back.  Color with your kids.  Order several different varieties of drinks at dinner... splurge a little.  Go back to visit your alma mater.  Hang those pictures.  Do what you love... with those you love. Give.

Geoff did all that.  Daddy did all that.  I saw it... and it changed me.  The pain is bigger because they were bigger... and while the pain of losing them aches, it pushes me to respond.  I want to be "Geoff" and "Daddy" to those around me.  I want to make a mark on the world in that way.  I want my response not to be fueled by grief... but by wanting to show a tangible love to a hurting world.

Let's commit together to "do good".