September 29, 2010
As we make the final preparations for leaving Brisbane in a few hours back to Carlisle, I mull over the past 5 weeks and sum it up with the words “extravagant Love of The Father”. When we have talked to Akila, Mike and Laura about Australia they excitedly remind of us the crazy people at our church. One aspect of the culture of the church is an over the top generosity. That has been my experience of that community since I first came in 1986. Some months ago, Akila said to Kathy that our church in Australia was the model of the church she would like to belong to and find in other places.
I have experienced generosity from many over the years but extravagant action is very powerful. I watched on Sunday the Pastor anointed Andrew as he was ordained. Gone was the normal finger tip full of oil, the whole bottle of almond olive oil was poured over him. Crazy? Sounds like it but that extravagance was not only fun but an incredibly powerful symbolic action.
Kayleen, a wonderful believer with a passion for intercession, said she would like to paint a portrait of Mike for us. I had no idea how long that takes and whether it would happen before we leave. I emailed her a few shots of Mike. On Sunday, when the painting was presented to us at church, we could not believe what we were being given.
- Black & While Acrylic Painting of Mike
I took this photo of Mike in May 2006. It summed up at that time where Mike was in life. Knowing he had not done well at school academically, thinking about a fabrication course at college in September, which I pushed him into, we called this photo “contemplation”. We had no idea how profound this photo would be to us and Kathy placed it at the back of his funeral service sheet.
Can you belive Kayleen has only been painting 2 years! Words cannot express how we as a family feel to receive this awesome painting. It is far more than a painting and as it was revealed I know something also happened in the spiritual. Hard to unpack that statement.
There have been many “hands & feet” the Father has used during this time to lavish us with extravagant love. THANK YOU.
September 23, 2010
There are some things that just warm my heart. One of them is seeing Akila or Laura go online when their computer starts! Kathy and I were smiling at the recollection of Mike coming online during his lunch break at McDonald’s. Its just such a wonderful happy feeling. We are down in Melbourne and the girls are up in Maryborough (two different states) with their cousins. I miss them and for the first time worry about either our travel or theirs back to Brisbane. Silly but a reality at this time.
September 22, 2010
Why is it that I keep finding friends who have been struggling with issues but dont find the freedom to share with others about those struggles? Why is it that we can espouse eloquently about authentic relationships but not live in the reality of them? I know sin is an issue for all of us but actually I think its the brothers of sin, shame & guilt, especially the big brother, shame that is a part of the problem. Or is it that we know we will be judged, or is that an unfounded fear?
Being in Australia at this time reminds me of Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee. In a party setting, Dundee makes a joke about a lady who had spent time with a psychiatrist. He asks the girl does she not have mates! Having mates is such a wonderful blessing and I have several but three in particular that I know I could share anything with.
Friends kindly let us use their holiday appartment on the Gold Coast here in Australia. As we drove into the area I was confronted with “adult” shops and massage parlours. After such a wonderful year experiencing God’s grace and mercy, and speaking that day at church, I found myself struggling with many lustful thoughts. I quickly sent a sms off to my great mate Todd in America and within minutes the mobile rang. We had a good laugh about it all but I knew it was safe to tell him my struggles. The bottom line, “no sin has over taken you such is common to man”. So if I struggle, so do you! Todd sent me sms’s the next few days to see how I was doing. Asking Todd to help me walk through those days was just what I needed.
I am committed to authentic friendship with several mates and to call out for help at the initial signs of issues. I know I will struggle if I go it alone.
September 18, 2010
Friends here in Australia very kindly put AUS50 in all their cards for my Birthday. What a riot to open yet another card and another fifty dollar note drop out. One of the presents I brought myself was a “Rip Curl” watch.
Aussie Watch for my 50th
I dont own a watch or ever wear one, but for some reason had a desire for one. It was only when telling someone about Mike and watches that I got a little emotional and realized the power of the sub-conscious.
Mike liked watches and over the years had brought several here in Australia. We have photos of him in the surf proudly wearing his watches, and on one occasion, a watch on both arms! I didn’t want a “normal” watch but one that suited my “gay” personality!
In telling the story of Mike and his watches I discovered that I knew this was the style of watch he would have chosen and it was the sort of present he would have brought. I later thought through the process and saw the power of the sub-conscious. Although we have not refered to Mike as much as we thought, he is daily in both our conscious and sub-conscious. I love you Mike and I think of you in the surf when I look at it. Miss you heaps on this trip.
September 7, 2010
When we die, what do we leave behind? What is important to us when we live? Where do we spent our time and money? With whom do we spend our time? I am more convinced that the legacy that is effective is the one that has been invested in people. When its not about me then I am free. Akila and Laura need me as dad and as dad to the girls I have to allow them to come to me on their terms, when they want to come into my heart, I have to be ready, when they dont, I have to accept that. So what will I be remembered for when I die? What do I want to be remembered for? To whom is it important to me of what they remember?
As I look over photo’s of Mike, I see many happy memories of our times together. This old watering can was my grandfathers. We decided one summer to clean it up. We didnt finish the job and its lying back in the shed in the same condition. But the friendship that strengthened that day with Mike is a part of the legacy he left behind in my life. Thanks Mike for all the time you spent with me and hanging out with dad. I understand more today about friendship because of you. It certainly wasnt the words or wisdom you shared! It is also more than the times we were together as a family. I am very fortunate in that I have many happy memories of times together, even when you were a teenager. You were an awesome son Mike and you have left a beautiful legacy in my life.
September 5, 2010
“We were lying peacefully on the beach when a Tsunami hit. We dragged ourselves onto the beach, eventually tidying up the mess and then sitting and making sense of the new landscape”. Thats how we feel the last year has been. Our time here in Australia is where we move from theory of the new DNA of our family into reality. For me it is important to process, understand and articulate rather than either compartmentalized or live life on the surface and dont take the time or work to process.
We have all felt that the main change in the DNA of our family unit is that we are now 4 not 5. That may seem very obvious but when you have lived for 16 years with 5 you operate on auto-pilot and subconsciously make decisions daily on the basis of 5. Society likes 4! This has been in our face very much since arriving in Australia. Cars are designed for 4, restaurants predominantly have tables for 4, theme park rides have rides for 4, food packages say “serves 4”. When I first met Kathy, she introduced me to a saying that has become a deep seated value to us as a family. “If there is room in your heart, there’s room in you home”. We never had a problem with 5. We would squeeze into the car, although Mike being 6′ tall was becoming an issue. We would simply pull up another chair, we would make a bed on the couch, mum or dad would stand and watch the others on a ride and have a go the 2nd time.
Here is the hard part, 4 is easier and I hate that I write that! I have to face the emotion of guilt that I feel 4 is often less hassle. The guilt is generated by the notion that when it comes to the practical, life is just easier. I DONT WANT LIFE EASIER, I WANT MY BUDDY BACK!!! I dont want the ease at the expense of my son not being with us. I dont want his exclusion to make life easier, none of us do.
Another aspect of the new DNA is that our family is now predominantly female and activities are often chosen towards a girly bias. So where the girls would like to go shopping to clothes shops, Mike and I would sneak off to electronic stores or more bloke orientated interests. Mike loved the surf and would spend hours in the water on his board. The girls are too timid to even put their toes in the water! I miss watching my son play in the water catching the waves.
Mike and his board
And so whilst we enjoy time with family and friends, we continue as a familyto work through the new DNA of our family and make friends with the “new” not just accept it.
Sadness is not the main emotion these days, it is rather thankfulness to God. I could choose to focus on the loss of Mike, but I rather thank God for the many awesome memories I have of him here in Australia and the wonderful times we did have. I thank God that Mike had one of the most awesome lives any 18 1/2 year old boy could of had. I thank God for the two beautiful daughters I have and the fun and laughter we have had in these past days. Above all, I thank God that Mike was not only a lovely son to me, but that he shared with me the same Heavenly Father and that I know today they are together.