Happy Birthday Mira!

If she’d lived to be 8 years of age, we’d have celebrated it today.  I look back through pictures of her older sister to that time and age and see how she matured, looked, and changed.  Some kids, especially those of the same sex, look very similar.  Just like you, I find it kind of easy to extrapolate what a younger girl might well look like when compared to her older sister.

Mira?  Not quite.  Her older sister has the prettiest long dark hair and long thick eyelashes.  Her smile is nearly the textbook definition of timeless beauty.  She’ll probably be one of the fortunate ones, just like her mom, to age gracefully and always hold onto her looks.  I’m reminded daily, well, the days I bother to look in the mirror anyway, that I’m most certainly not one of the fortunate folks within the “timeless beauty” crowd.  I’m not sure that I’d lament about God smacking me with the ugly stick, but if my wife were shopping for looks when I first started stalking her, she’d have probably skipped the second date.

No I didn’t stalk her.  Rather, I think of it as being persistent in one’s dating discipline.  I make jokes of course.  There’s no reason a blog can’t be fun.  Especially a Christian blog.  I’m celebrating each day what God has provided, so I really gravitate towards the up tempo numbers if you know what I mean.

Mira’s looks?  Cutest little smiling face, EVER.  Wild golden blond hair with curls everywhere.  I know it’s typical for Dads to think about boy things.  But I’ll be very honest when I say that I really enjoyed the brief period my daughter had curly hair.  It was a chore each morning and there were tears combing it out and putting in piggy tails occasionally, but it was beautiful.  Considering she is adopted we have no frame of reference for what she may morph into with time.  So, that means curly hair, while proving now to have been temporary, we cherished.  I contemplate things like that and I always wonder if Mira would’ve kept those flowing curls that made her so cute and unique.

I sometimes cry when thinking about the fact it isn’t something I’ll see or have knowledge of on this side of the ride.  It’s a hard thing to describe.  I have all these feelings of joy, remembering how cute and fun it was listening to her talk, and teasing her folks that they should teach her the English language someday.  She spoke just fine, but just like any parent, it was easier for Mira’s folks to understand her when she muttered under her breath or was in a toot than it was for the rest of us, thus the fun loving jab from time to time.  I would giggle when I saw her run too.  She’d crank her head down and churn her arms like the wheels on a steam train.  I would almost hear “toot, toot” when she ran hard.  What fun she was!  I took these pictures for Mira and her family in 2013 and I look through them with wide smiles and fond memories.

I sometimes smile when I think about where she is and all the people she’s talking to.  She’s met God and thanked Jesus herself for His pinnacle of sacrifices.  She’s got the true understanding of how tough it was to be an apostle and the awful way their time ended in this place.  I assume Mira has talked with people including greats in history, past presidents and world leaders, and the most seemingly insignificant but precious little old ladies from every corner of Earth.  She’s had conversations with Mother Teresa.

How can I be upset with this?  How do I justify my occasional rage and more oft sadness.  I can’t.  Yet I am.  I’m comforted beyond belief knowing there is a Heaven and she’s smack dab in the middle of it.  I write about my comfort with strict honesty.  I’m also swaying back and forth from joy of this self evident happening to pure unadulterated sorrow over both her absence and the pain I watch her family grapple day to day, hour to hour, moment to moment.

We’re forever altered and some days it’s just darned tough to see the bright side.  That’s all there is to it.  Did I think about Mira on my own daughter’s birthday a few weeks ago?  You betcha.  Were there a couple moments of sadness?  Yup, just a couple fleeting moments in time, but nothing crippling.  Did I worry about Mira’s family as they participated in my son’s dedication and my daughter’s birthday celebration at the church?  A little.  I knew there could be some struggle, but I also know while they may be beaten and bloodied, they have strength they don’t always realize.  They braved a hurdle that some people would let stymie them, and came back to the church for the first time since Mira’s funeral there, to share with us as family.  That would be hard for lots of people and I’m sure it was for them.  In point of fact, I know it was hard.  Darned hard.

You know the funny thing about hard and tough circumstances?  It shows us and others who we really are in many cases.  If you didn’t know Mira’s family, you’d never thought a thing about their presence that day a few weeks back.  You’d just have assumed they were part of the gaggle of people that came to join in my son’s dedication that morning.  They tucked that pain and sorrow and the flood of memories they got with the sight, smell, and feel of the place they last visited when laying their child and sister to rest, and rolled it up in a little ball to be tucked away for the benefit of others that day.  They pushed on.

If Mira’s family can do that, then I can get righted and resolve my troubles as well.  No, I’m not under the illusion that I can or should be done with sorrow over Mira’s death.  I reject that on shear principle.  However, I can muster strength and seek good and healthy ways to understand and deal with what is laid out before me.  And just exactly how do I plan to do so you ask?

Through God.

He gave us what we need in the Bible.  It’s all there, if we’d bother to read it, research it, understand it, apply it, live it, feel it, and share it.  Maybe I’m being short-sided, but I don’t feel a bit bad about the emotions associated with losing a little girl that was a pseudo-daughter.  Why should I?  My feelings are real.  I didn’t make them up.  I don’t lament about them.  I experience them and I’m committing to dealing with them in the best ways possible.

So when I think about Mira, I often smile.  I think about possibilities.  I think about all kinds of things that I can’t put into words.  I even think about the Hippocratic Oath the doctors took who treated her cancer and whether they truly believed in Him or whether the oath was just something everybody said on graduation day for them.  Yeah, I have a tendency to chase a rabbit or two, so sue me.  😉

I also have moments of sadness.  It’s easier for me to seek and employ really heartfelt and appropriate scripture when I’m flying high.  It’s far more challenging for me to do so when I’m in the dumper.  So that’s my personal goal.  Instead of giving glory to God when we’re on a roll primarily, I want to make certain that even when I get down in the mouth about what Mira’s birthday party may have been like today that I give Him the glory, seek that particular scripture and Word of God that I need, and improve my Faith.

A staple among churchgoers is Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I really like 2nd letter to the church in Corinth as well, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

And of course, one that is plain and simple for me especially in view of this blog post, Psalm 119:28 – My soul weeps because of grief;  Strengthen me according to Your word.

Be salt and light friends.  I think we barely have any idea how we can impact for the positive the lives of others, but if we shared just a little bit of the Gospel with those we touch.

17July – EDITED TO ADD…  I write these blog posts and store them in my site.  I set the publication dates up so they go ‘live’ about three times a month.  In lay terms, I schedule when the posts will appear and be available for viewing.  This means, quite literally, from the time I put thoughts to written text and set a date for publication that I can remember things I’d like to add, subtract, and even things I’ve reconsidered.  This is a good thing for me, and it should be for you too.  My blog entries are my discoveries and I get some things right in my search for more light.  However, I also get things wrong.  Sometimes I come across a reconsideration of a previous understanding, but in this case I was alerted to something I tend to avoid autonomously everywhere else – assumption.

My pastor, being the shepherd he is, reads my blog and makes sure that I’m not saying or doing anything silly.  If and when I do, he’s kind enough and dedicated enough to make mention of it.  Some would struggle with that kind of critique, but I’m grateful for it.  I have no doubt that being a scholar of Theology, he probably shakes his head at some of the scripture I cite and thinks to himself, “he didn’t quite get that one, but he’s well on his way,” or even, “hey, he paid attention last Sunday!”  It is completely necessary for me to concede that I don’t know things.  I’d much rather be a ‘learner’ than portray or think that I’m ‘learned’ in these matters.  So I’m tickled Steve-o looks after me so I don’t wander down the wrong path.  Thank you for that my friend!

This brings me to some careful reconsideration you all should ponder as I have.  I should lay the ground work for what you’re about to read by stating to you all that I’m not a very good writer.  I try, but I don’t always do a good job about being thorough in extrapolating what vision I’m trying to portray and put across to you all for pontification.  

Above, when I was writing about the experiences Mira may be having in Heaven, it was an attempt at getting people to consider things they don’t often think about.  I know many people, Christians included, that have given little thought to what a Heavenly experience actually may consist of or be like.  Sure, we want to ascend to Heaven, but what is there to do when we get there?  Are we all walking around in robes?  Are there assigned lounge chairs by the pool or do the early risers snag the good ones?  What about the chow line?  Does it take a full day for everyone to meander their way through the cafeteria?  See what I mean?  That’s just silly stuff, but we never give it a lot of thought.  So, in my mind I picture us in forms similar to our current bodies.  How we interact and whether all things we have never known become known instantly, or anything like that are completely beyond me.  I’m excited to consider it, even though I don’t know what I don’t know.  Still, being able to understand or share experiences with people I’ve long since been apart from is central to my point here.  

I picture Heaven as a place of being reunited with others.  I say to myself, “just think of all the people you’ve only read about that may be there to talk with and all the understanding you’ll gain by those meeting and interactions.”  While I have no basis for what those exchanges, if any, may be like some day, I look forward to them.  

I must also say these same visualizations are a means of teaching others, like my kids, about mortality.  Do I want my daughter to think she becomes a worm feed after passing?  Nope.  Do I need her to grasp that the spirit leaves the body?  Yes.  Do I wish for her to embrace that fact that other believers are waiting for her?  I certainly do.  So I’ve given subtle examples about things like Mira.  I have explained to my daughter that her best friend is someone she’ll see again.  I painted the picture that Mira is already joined with others.  I firmly believe I got all that correct.  

But here’s what I glanced over way too quickly and what I most assuredly got wrong…  I assumed who would be there talking to Mira.  I shouldn’t have done that and I can’t allow myself to fall into that kind of trap.  An example is that of Mother Teresa.  I don’t think that anyone would argue that she didn’t do a great deal of work and perform extraordinary kindnesses with her time here.  But…  I cannot “know” about her any more than any of you.  

There are many of you out there right now that are saying, “Mother Teresa?  Are you kidding me?  Of course she’s in Heaven,” and that’s fine by me.  There are others saying, “I question that,” and that’s OK too.  My point isn’t to argue or debate her Heavenly status.  Rather, to put forth that I assumed things not within my grasp.  I really need to resist that at every opportunity.  I’m free to wonder, but it is imperative that I don’t adopt a thought or process that isn’t actually true.  I did so above, and that’s a mistake.  While that appears to be a small one in many’s consideration, it is not.  If I can assume something like that about one person, I can do so about another, and so on, and so on.  What happens then?  I latch onto the ‘relativity’ position and I can eventually make anything out of nothing.  That’s the exact opposite of the written Word of God.  There are some things that are absolute in this life and we’d be wise to remember them.  

Take my mistake and think on it.  I did.  We’re not splitting hairs here.  Our understanding matters and we’re duty bound to get it right.   So what do I think now?  I think my Faith is to be based on evidence.  Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  I think we’re supposed to test things.  1 Thessalonians 5:21 – But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.  I believe I’m commanded to resist being naive and to avoid assumptions at every turn about everything.  Proverbs 14:15 –  The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps.

Go with God my friends…  😉

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