A Dad’s Tribute to His Daughters

The poet and his three princesses

We played with Barbies on the floor.
We watched the Cubs while keeping score.
A million memories, maybe more,
I’ve made with my three girls.

Seems like last week that they were five.
Their big wheels made them feel alive.
And then I taught them how to drive.
That’s when my hair turned white.

But looking back I must confess.
Although, at times, they’ve caused me stress,
they bring me joy. I have been blessed
by those who call me Dad.

Daughters pull your heart strings tight.
They are a source of pure delight.
And when I close my eyes at night,
I thank the Lord for them.

Skookum, Santa and the Searching Eyes of God

An iconic sign in my hometown calls to mind more than childhood memories

Our family moved to Wenatchee, Washington on a hot July day in the summer of 1964. It was the very day that country music legend Jim Reeves was killed in a plane crash.

An iconic sign with moveable eyes welcomed us as we entered town. The Skookum Indian greeted us with a knowing gaze. As a twelve-year-old I was impressed by the searching eyes and the eventual wink of that motorized apple label image.

Although I moved away from the valley when I graduated from college, regular visits home to see my parents and my brother weren’t complete with exchanging glances with Skookum. After I married, family vacations inevitably included trips to Wenatchee for my three daughters to be spoiled by their grandparents.

As we drove into town, I would alert my girls to the fact that Skookum was looking for them. With excitement Kristin, Allison and Lauren would crane their necks to look for the searching eyes of that friendly face. When one of the those moving eyes winked, they laughed with glee. They were convinced that the young Indian brave had spotted them.

Although that familiar image no longer graces the skyline of our town, I picture Skookum each time I drive the Avenue. For me, that face was a tangible reminder that my Father in Heaven is continually aware of what is going on in my life. And that’s a comforting thought.

At Christmastime we refer to the omniscience of Santa while singing “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness’ sake…” The lyrics of that holiday classic are meant to motivate little ones to be on their best behavior throughout the year.

Looking back, however, my sense is that the never-sleeping eyes of Santa are viewed through the lens of guilt or threat. “You’d better watch out! I’m telling you why…”

The supernatural traits ascribed to that fictional Yuletide figure actually derive from One who truly is all-knowing and ever-present. The God we worship, as the old African American spiritual declares, “never sleeps. He never slumbers. He watches over you both night and day…”

Whereas some view that cosmic all-seeing eye with a sense of dread, I find a sense of comfort in knowing that nothing escapes the purview of Providence.  There is a passage in the Old Testament that references the searching eyes of God. It’s found in 2 Chronicles 16:9. “The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
Rather than thinking of God’s awareness of our attitudes, actions and reactions from a negative point of view, the aforementioned Scripture suggests that God’s focus on our lives is a good thing. It is intended to have beneficial results. In other words, God’s awareness of my desire to please Him has a promised payoff.

The all-knowing nature of God is nothing to be feared. It is a truth to take hold of with gratitude. When we feel like nobody knows the trouble we’ve seen, we can be assured of the fact that God knows and cares.

Several years ago our family was traveling in Greece visiting the village from which my paternal grandfather immigrated to America. My girls, now grown, were introduced to an icon of an eye sold by a street vendor. This blue and white glass ornament symbolized the eye of God. This beautiful keepsake conveyed a simple but profound truth.

Unlike the winking eye of a Wenatchee icon that had defined their childhood, this “God’s eye” didn’t wink. It is a constant reminder, to my children and to me, of God’s continual awareness and His constant care. I, for one, am glad He never sleeps.

With Thoughts of My Dad

From the time I was three I wanted to be like my dad

When I sit at my keyboard,
the sick are consoled.
Those troubled in spirit
are suddenly whole.

The grieving, encouraged.
The worried, relieved.
When I type “in the Spirit,”
God’s will is achieved.

If I asked how I learned how
to uplift the sad,
I know what to answer.
I credit my dad.

You modeled the comfort
the Scripture affords
when you translate God’s truth
into everyday words.

I miss you, Pop!

** I wrote this wee verse (based on the accompanying photo) for my pastor-dad as my Fathers’ Day greeting in 1999. The photo pictures me as a three-year-old sitting at my dad’s manual Royal typewriter in his church office in 1955. My dad passed away on November 4, 2008 at the age of eighty-two.

The Black Dog Bites Again!

The “black dog” of depression robbed these two daughters of their mother

She sang about the good old days.
With love she built a bridge
that helped her run away from the “black dog.”
She knew where she was going
when her day for dying came.
Naomi (from her youth) reached out to God.

“Don’t be cruel!” she prayed intently
as she’d cry herself to sleep.
“Your Baby’s Got the Blues” was in her head.
The rhythm of the rain drowned out
the morning birds who’d chirp.
A change of heart is what she daily pled.

But still this mother languished
from depression’s dreaded spell.
She verbalized her pain most publicly.
Her country music lyrics
often called to mind young love
as she dreamed of joy and freedom. “Why not me?”

This Mother’s Day two daughters
will be grieving for their mom
who couldn’t bear the torture one more day.
May Ashley and Wynona
recognize love is alive.
Please carry them, dear Father, this I pray.

** My introduction to The Judds came as I was spinning records as a deejay while working at KICY radio in Nome, Alaska. It was the summer of 1987. I had just turned thirty-five years of age. My wife and I along with our children accepted an invitation to serve as short-term missionaries at a radio station owned and operated by our denomination (The Evangelical Covenant Church). Much of the music played on the station that served the rural villages of Western Alaska was country/western.

“I Know Where I’m Going” by The Judds was on our play list. I loved the harmony of the mother/daughter duo. I also loved the title. Although the song was not spiritual in the least, it was an invitation to trust the Lord to lead me to a future of His choosing. While I didn’t know the details to what my life and ministry held in store, my Father knew. He knew where He was going with my life. He invited me to come, too.

Curiously, I just turned seventy. As I look back it’s hard to realize that experience in Nome was half my life ago.

It’s a Wonderful (Amazing) Life!

New words to Amazing Grace inspired by an old movie

A wonderful life
God’s given us
through friends and family.
Each morning breaks
with hope anew
like waves upon the sea.

There’s beauty in
a walk at dawn
and geese upon a pond.
Our lives are blessed
by thoughts of times
with loved ones who are gone.

There’s wonder in
a moonlit night
and in a child’s face.
Our blessings morph
to grateful hearts
and hymns that praise God’s grace.

Greg’s book,
Finding God in
It’s a Wonderful Life
is listed on the
BOOKS menu
at $2.99-$14.99
Lulu Books.