Sunday, February 2, 2014

Love, Dad (again)

Dear Family,

Tonight Emily and I were texting, joking about some of the things dad might be doing in this phase of life.

It got us laughing. Then of course, me crying. It inspired me to look for the voice mail recording Christina had sent all of us. I couldn't find it but I did come across some old treasures that made me smile. I wanted to post them here so we can always find his wisdom and easily remember when we need to.

So enjoy, laugh and cry. They're both good.


To my grandkids
 I want you to Know that I had hope to be with you in this earthly life.  
 I am thankful I got to interact with maia and Ethan my boy.  
 Just remember your home is like a school.   Your Parents are your teachers.   They will teach you about god,  Life,  Values,  and Righteousness.
 Be Teachable.   Your parents are your guide and teachers.   Love and respect them.   o well as you obey them.   Your life will go well as you obey them 

My prayers Is that you will learn To appreciate life.   That you May realize it is god who gives you life.   Learn also how to laugh, 
 your parents will know what is good for you.   That everyone of you will choose to follow christ.
These things are for grandchildren   

Angela Angela
 After you gave birth to Ethan my boy I began to envision all kinds of activities I could do with him.   IT appears these things are no longer possible unless God intervenes.   I envision Ethan and I , Playing basketball,  working on cars or
Trucks.   Playing basketball of coarse would be a priority.   Oneday when he is old enough to understand you can tell Ethan.  
My message for you.   That your faith in God will remain solid and strong.   I realized this horrible disease in my body has caused a lot of us To think deeper about god.   our faith in god.
Ultimately we can Still trust God.  

I enjoy being around with Ethan and maia.  

You and Jordan are doing a great job raising your kids.

i am Thanking god for the spiritual drive you have been Demonstrating lately.   Maintain it. 
I envision you and mike rearing your kids with biblical principles.  
Oneday your sphere of influence will be bigger.   one of the keys in making kingdom impact is practicising God's presence in your life.Keep learning from god' s word.   For mike,  I Hope and pray That one day you will take your responsibility as a spiritual leader in the home.  
 About automotive,  Think and apply safety whenever you work  on cars.   I have all the tools you need to Fix cars.   Try your best not to Loose tools.  

Hi Christina, 
 it has been a wonderful experience golfing,  Chatting,  and Spending time with you. 
I am very proud of you,  and of all of you Girls.   You have accomplished so much in life at younger age.   Whereever your career takes you just keep in mind your ultimate purpose in life.  

 I am very proud of you,  and of all of you Girls.   You have accomplished so much in life at younger age.   Whereever your career takes you just keep in mind your ultimate purpose in life.   There is no greater purpose in life than your God Given purpose.  
I am hopeful I get to see your first child before the lord takes me home.  
You and Frankie are good match.

One of my memories with you,  I Took you to A bus to go to a community center.   We Participated in a program called tug and tumble.   This was when we were living in richmond.   You Enjoyed being in there and you did not want to leave.   Watching you run on a high school track meet,  and watch you play high school basketball was one of my joyous moments.  

For frankie

Oneday when you have your own kids.   Here are things you may consider.   Build in them spiritual foundation at early age.   Read to them bible stories.   Demonstrate To them in Practical ways what it means to Love and to love your wife

dear emily,

oneday when you read this message you will find it inspiring. My prayer for you is, 

 you Will learn what it means to love your God.
  This Principle is foundational in your Relationship with God. Some biblical advice I want you to apply into your life. 

   Choose a life time godly partner.   Choose a life time godly partner.   Because unity in the spirit will bring more harmony into your marriage relationship.   Be a student of God's word.   Following biblical principles leaves no regrets.  
I Hope to be at your High school grad.   At your wedding as well.   Your a very good basketball player.   Keep developing your skills,  like Dribbling,  Passing to an open player,  Learning to lay up the ball with your left hand.   Pursue education.   To have a university degree gives you Some springboard for life.   I am confident if you keep improving your skills in basketful you Might end up playing university level.

Emily has A gentle spirit.   Her inner beauty is evident Only have one 14 Birthday enjoy it.  
 You will Oneday be challenged with your Chrisrienced that.  
 Trying to live out your values leave less regrets.  
 You are Very gifted in a lot of areas.   Use your talents and gifts to expand the kingdomtian values or you probably have expe of god.   

To my dear wife Kathy, 
 I want you to Know I am Thankful to god for being my wife,  Friend,  and Care giver. all my life trials and,  Challenges.
 you were There to help me.   You always demonstrated that you cared for me.   I Couldn't have done everything on my own.   I love you very much. 

You were With me in times of trials,  Suffering,  Perseverance,  and Victories.  

You were also one of My greatest resource in doing ministry.
.   You are indispensable in my life. 

my personal note

It is my hope that all my girls will try their best to teach their children that following Jesus is worthwhile doing.   The Influence of this World may attract Your kidtablish in them solid spiritual foundation while they are moldable teach them the word of god.   Eph, 6:1-2 is an ideal verse for them to apply at younger age.   Show them in lifes to do the Opposite.   I would have to say es There need to be a Respect for higher authority.   Help them to understand what it means to love God.   Model to them what it takes to do this.   I also hope you will always be parents of second chance.

this dynavox is messing up my notes (this makes me laugh) 

It is a very long exit.   Jesus says we cannot add an hour into our lives. our time on earth is   Pre-determined.   We can shorten our lives by sinning.   

bible study notes
Mark 1:1-13
We are called to pave the way For others.  
 Point people to Christ.   

Friday, April 16, 2010

Don't Forget!

Today marked my last, "last day of class." This is the end of 14 "last day of classes" over the past 7 years and 14 semesters of college and university. My childhood best friend once asked if I was getting "a PhD or something" and the answer, unfortunately, was no. I told her I was spending 2 years at Bible college figuring out what to do with my life and then needed to next 5 years to get ready to do what I figured out!

This morning, I was was sipping my coffee and thinking that now that this long awaited moment had arrived, I needed commemorate it somehow! It seemed appropriate to take a few moments and thank God for all he has provided on this journey that is soon coming to a close. As I started to list a few obvious things that came to mind, God's faithfulness overwhelmed me like a flood. As I listed off one provision after another, I was reminded that He did provide every single thing that I needed over the past 7 years whether it was finances, relationships, comfort, strength, time, rest, endurance or for physical needs, just like He promised he would!

Next, my thoughts wandered to the beginning of this journey. It seemes natural, I guess, when you're near the end of something to think back to how it all started. The summer 2003 was when I was getting ready to head off to Bible school and it was also, ironically enough, (much like the last year) a rocky time for our family. At the end of the summer, we were told that he had been diagnosed with depression. The struggles he had been having for a number of months were finally beginning to make sense. I watched my invincible dad be broken and transparent and at that point in my life, it was the hardest thing I had seen. This morning I was looking through my journal from that time and early in the fall I had written:

"Thank you God that you are bringing my parents through this time... and for taking care of us. I think I'm taking this okay because I know that you are in control."

It seemed odd that I could say almost the exact same words now.

"Thank you God for bringing our family through this time and taking care of us. We will be okay because you are in control."

God showed himself faithful then, he continues to now, and since history tends to be a good indication of the future, I would be willing to bet- or better yet, I know- He will continue to be, whatever storm may come.

I'm such a forgetful person. If I don't make a to-do list, I forget all the things that must be done. If I don't take a list to the grocery store, I always forget at least one thing! If I don't take to remember all that He has done, I risk forgetting just how faithful and good He has been in my life, and that's not a risk I should be willing to take!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time is a Funny Thing

Today is February 17, 2010. It's been 6 months since my dad passed away. It's crazy to think about how much can change in such a short period of time. My tendency is to measure time by the proximity to life-changing events.

At this very time just three years ago, I was months away from my dad walking me down the aisle. Two years ago close to this time, he took Emily to a watch the Phoenix Suns game down in Seattle. He was healthy and probably feeling quite invincible. Only four months later, we were touching down in the Philippines, a trip that was a surprise blessing to our family because of the diagnosis. And just over a year from when we arrived back home from that same trip, my dad passed away. Crazy.

Time is a strange paradox. Though it does seems that so much can change in so little time, what is also interesting to me is how little things can change in a given period of time. My dad had a John Piper book that was always laying around the house. I've never read it but the title always caught my attention as if to challenge and remind me: "Don't Waste Your Life."

When I think back to how much has changed in the last three years, I can't help but also ponder how much or how little my life has changed since then. What have I done in the time God has given me?

Imagine if $1440 were deposited into a bank account at the beginning of each day for you to spend. It is up to your discretion how to spend it but it all must be spent in that day. Any remaining balances cannot be transferred and once it's gone, it's gone. There are no credits, advances or overdrafts. That would mean that in a week we would have $10,080 at our disposal and in one month, $43,200. It would seem as if that great amount of money would be more than enough to cover any kind of expense.

Time is a resource we've been given just like money. We have 1440 minutes in a day, 10,080 minutes in a week and 43,200 minutes in a month to spend at our discretion.

Ultimately, the way we spend our time ends up being the way we spend our life. If you're anything like me, there have been days or weeks that have slipped by at times when it feels as if you have nothing of eternal value to show for it. Time doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down. On the contrary, it seems to only speed up as I've gotten older and the sense of urgency to spend wisely only seems to increase.

My hope is that as time continues to fly by that I can take opportunities to view these milestones as a time to pause and ponder how I'm spending my life. My dad's faith throughout his life, illness and up until his death had a resounding impact on my life. Now the question is, how much have I allowed God to change since then?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Love, Dad

If you read the Teary Traditions post, you may remember the little blooper we shared as a family when we tearily went to watch my dad's very special surprise video message and realized that we in fact, had the wrong DVD.

Well, we finally got all our ducks in a row and since all of us girls were together this last weekend, we sat down to watch it. We were equipped and ready with a full box of kleenex and we situated ourselves where we could easily console one another as the floodgates opened.

Just as quickly as the tape started rolling, the tears started streaming. My dad videotaped this little segment last December 2nd, 2008. He speech was still understandable to the family, but barely audible to the general public. You could see how it was a struggle for him to make out the words but how at the same time, there was an urgency and sense of importance in what he had to say.

He started out talking to Emily- and to her future husband who (bless him whoever he is) will have many layers of brother-in-law to penetrate through one day and, the "dad talk" via DVD.

He had specific words of wisdom for all of his girls and son-in-laws, reminders of his love and appreciation for my mom, reminders of his love for his present and future grandchildren and the admonition for all of us to live out our faith, walk with God and teach our children to do the same. And of course... several reminders of just how much he loved watching us all play basketball and how Emily is going to be the one to go all the way! Surprised?

It was the perfect mix of dad. He filmed this video when he was still in the uncontrollable laughter phase of the disease. He'd be in the middle of a very heart-wrenching sentence and then break out into hysterical laughter. This of course, allowed the very emotional viewers a few brief intermissions from crying in exchange for laughter.

It truly was and will always be a treasure. I'm thankful that he took the time to do this. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to sit down and record a video that you know your loved ones will only watch once you have passed on.

The theme of his message was no surprise as it's the same thing he lived out and encouraged us to do when he was still with us. Now I feel as though he has joined the great cloud of witnesses found in Hebrews 11 and is saying, "Run with perseverance the race marked out for you." I'll be cheering you on.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Teary Traditions (Part 2)

What makes December 25th truly unique in our family is that is also happens to mark 50% of our family's birthdays. My dad, Angela and Christina were all born on Christmas Day. In part 1, I mentioned one of the many traditions in our house. The morning of December 25th usually went down something like this:

6:00 AM or earlier- Angela wakes up and wakes up whoever she can, usually Emily and myself (and yes, in that order, and yes, this was up until last year... her 26th birthday...) We would wait until a more humane time to wake up the rest of the family that our mom had specified the night before. We'd all open stockings after of course fingering through all the little wrapped gifts in order to try and guess what they all were. Dad would never open a gift before trying to pre-determine what was inside! We'd open our "Santa" gifts and by this point our dad was often back asleep on the couch. He wasn't yet caffeinated.

After this, Christmas was totally put on pause. We'd move over to the table for birthday breakfast. All the birthday presents had to be wrapped in birthday paper. No one dared break this cardinal rule. We'd eat one of mom's breakfast casseroles, open presents and then move onto the cake. For this part, the twins would climb into my dad's lap no matter how big or small they were and we would sing Happy Birthday.

We'd take the famous picture of the three of them blowing our their birthday cake and of course one smiling for the album. My mom has an album full of just this picture from every year for the last 26 years! As they got older, dad became less and less visible in the picture but you could always see his famous smile poking out from between them!

This Christmas Eve, we had a pre-Christmas cry together and shared how this birthday moment was the one we were all dreading the most, especially the twins. It would be one of those times when his absence would feel like a meteor-sized crater.

The birthday breakfast this year hovered like a storm cloud in the room. No one seemed like they were in a hurry to get to the birthday and once we did, it really felt like, "let's just get this over with." We ate, sang and took the picture. It just wasn't the same. At this point my mom said through tear-filled eyes, "It just feels like someone is missing." Indeed it did.

However, it wouldn't truly be a "Jesse" moment without a little comic relief. Before we could all burst into tears, Mike who had stepped out of the room for a moment, yelled from the next room in a silly voice, "Don't worry guys, I'm right here!" Another moment recovered by humour...

The mixed feelings about Christmas this year may not change for the next while. The fact is, it is different and it really won't ever be the same without him. However, if we peel back the gift giving, birthdays and traditions, there is a greater unshakeable occasion that will never change.

The true reason we celebrate Christmas is because this is when God sent Jesus to earth. Our God is a relentless pursuer and he loved us too much to let us perish. He came to offer us the free and eternal gift of salvation. Because of this, we have a painless, sinless eternity in heaven to look forward to if we have accepted this free gift. Despite how tough moments may get now, they are temporary.

It seems as though the child-like excitement for Christmas tends to fade as we "grow up." I have asked God as I have gotten older, not to let me forget what Christmas is all about. Even though this was the toughest Christmas thus far, I have been reminded of what it is all about. Yes- family, gifts, and traditions are wonderful, but the Christmas spirit I think, stems from a spirit of thankfulness for what God has done which allows the hope, joy and peace that He provides flood our lives and into into the lives of those around us.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Teary Traditions (Part 1)

The new normal has been very tough to adjust to but thankfully, some milestones have passed so far where we all sat back and said, that wasn't as hard as we thought it would be. We all silently worried about what Christmas would be like without dad while knowing full well that this would and will probably always be the hardest time of the year.

Tradition is something we Morales' take very seriously. We don't mess with traditions! They unfortunately also have the potential to create the most obvious voids.

One of many at this time of year is the pajama tradition. For as long as I can remember among my dad's gift to his girls was always a pair of pajamas. We would always open them Christmas Even and then wear them to sleep that night. Some years he did a bit better than others but he always picked them out himself and he was always proud of his findings. Even last year, mom wheeled him around the mall as he thoughtfully picked out the perfect pair for Em, Ethan and Maia by shaking his head or nodding.

One of the most memorable years for pajamas was when he came home with plus size night gowns for all of the older girls... I think 3x or 4x. I think his rationale was two-fold- they were probably on the clearnace rack so of course on sale, and I think he thought they woudl be SO comfortable because they weren't tight fitting? It didn't seem to occur to him that all four of us could have fit into ONE with room to spare. We captured them on film before my mom "encouraged" him to return them and try again. Not to worry though, He did improve in both taste, size and pajama-common-sense in the years to follow!

Unforuntaely for the older three of us, this tradition ceasedwhen we got married but Emily of course had still be a beneficiary of this. Mike and I were shopping last week when all of sudden he stopped and said, "Do you think I should buy Em some PJ's?" We split up in the store as he began the hunt. I found him 20 minutes later looking quite stressed out. I asked what was wrong and he said, "I just feel so much pressure! This is a very big deal. That can't just be any pair, they have to be ones that scream Emily." I smiled at his appreciation for the seriousness of the task at hand! We did find something eventually and I left the store with our purchase and a very apprehensive Mike.

When I wrapped the PJ's I wrote on the tag, "Some traditions must keep on living..." Emily got to unwrap her very own huge one-size fits all moo-moo night gown that reads, "Move to the Moo-sic." We didn't want to her to miss out on the early years...

When she opened it we all laughed, and then of course, we all cried. It was funny and nice for a moment before we all felt the void that we knew was there. We keep taking those moments in stride. We have cried when we feel it coming on and laughed a lot as well.

Ethan has been our little rock. (We're getting him adjusted to being a sensitive guy early.) He's having a tough time following our emotional roller coasters. One minute we are all laughing and the next, he's so confused, "Hey- why's everyone cryin'?" Someone explains to him that we're sad because we miss Papa . He gives a round of hugs and then goes back to playing, and so far, we're okay and enjoy some laughs while we wait for the next wave!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Solution for Change

I've been having one of those kinds of weeks... several in a row actually, where you get overtired, crusty, frantic and run down to pieces all because, if I'm being honest, first things just were not first. As I found myself in a familiar pattern of failing in self-reliant mode, it got me thinking about a lesson I've learned... make that learn-ing. I'm pretty sure God has had it on repeat for the last several years.

Our family was tremendously blessed last summer with an all-expense paid trip to the Philippines. All 11 of us jumped on the plane and endured the seemingly endless plane ride with excitement and anticipation. It was my first time out of North America and consequently my first time in a third world country. I was shell shocked to see some of the conditions that people live under and not only that- the conditions that people are contently living under. All my dad's instructions from childhood about turning off the lights and not wasting water or food suddenly seemed like very reasonable requests after seeing the scarcity he came from.

During the trip, my dad posed one of his thought provoking questions to me: " will your life be different because of this trip?" I felt slightly pressured to produce a 'right' answer...

"Well," I began, "It's made me appreciate what I have more." He was not content. "What else?" "Umm...I think I'll be less material when I get home..." He just smiled like he had a secret that I failed to uncover.

I felt very inspired to live a simpler lifestyle immediately after arriving back home until some time elapsed and I felt equally inspired to buy a pair of darling, red, pointy, high heels. The accumulation of these shoes posed a new problem for me. I, of course, had to have a matching bag. I couldn't help that I happened to be invited to a Purse Party on a night that I happened to be available, that happened to have a perfectly matching red purse for sale... can you see the stuff-disease spreading? Why did my inspiration to live simply fade so quickly?

I could go on with confessions of a shop-a-holic but the real issue I find myself battling on the inside no matter what mask it wears on the outside is, why don't I change? What will it take to make a long-lasting change?

We've all had that time we saw that inspiring thing, place or person, and thought, I will never be the same. The sad truth for me is my best effort hasn't been enough for the inside-out kind of change.

I want to be different because of my life experiences. I want to be more content because of poverty-stricken conditions I have seen and read about. I want to live my life totally sold out to the will of God because I have seen a very faithful example and a glimpse of the payoff. I've been inspired many times but unfortunately, I always seem to come up short. The world says, try harder. You can do it. I've tried harder but I always end up back at square one which seems to be synonomous with square-the-same

I do find a little U-2-ME-2 in Romans 7. I read about Paul and discover that even great evangelist may have shared some of my struggles. He says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do...For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing...What a wretched [wo]man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

As I continue reading, I'm so relieved to find the real solution to change: "Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

I cannot change on my own. In fact, I can do nothing on my own (John 15:5).

Many times, I have looked at my dad's life and thought, I want to be like him. He was a great example but rather than trying to mimic his outward characteristics, I think my chances of being like him improve if I start thinking instead, I want to know and experience God the same way he did. I want God to change me so drastically the way he did for him. I want to surrender myself to change the same way he did.

It's never been about me or my efforts. It's not about what I can or cannot do on my own but what Jesus Christ wants to do in me.

For permanent change, seek out the Life-Changer everyday and turn yourself over to Him once again.