Love. (Mr. Roger’s Post)



“Love  (Mr. Roger’s Post)”

As a quick introduction, I will go ahead and warn you that this will be the longest post that I have ever written.  The ironic part of this is that the man whose life inspired it would tell me, “Sarah, remember your word limit.  250-350 words. 400 max!”  Well, Mr. Roger, no matter where in Heaven you are while reading this post—whether from a comfy couch of clouds with The Biggest Loser playing on the TV or while wading out at the duck blind (how about that resurrection body!)—this is what I have to say to you.  There is no way that I can write about you or in even reference to your life in less than 400 words!  Not even 1000 words can express all the praise that your life deserves… So without any further ado….

Love.

Tonight while sitting in my bed under strands of Christmas lights, I’m finally finding the courage to write about the passing of a man that I have loved.  Ever since 6th grade when his son, Roger, and I became best friends, I have thought of this precious family as my very own.  Filled with genuine compassion and even a streak of mischief, they always welcomed me with love shared through their open arms.  After all, their hugs always wrapped me up and seemed to never let go.

Although Mr. Roger was not my dad, I saw him in this light often; I knew he loved me just as I loved him.  And even though I tried with all of my heart, I found it hard to rejoice at the funeral service.  Instead, I cried until I couldn’t breathe as I watched this beloved family of mine walk down the long aisle behind a casket draped in beautiful, cream fabric with gold embroidery.  From the balcony, I wanted to reach down and take the hands of Ms. Nancy, Lizzie, Will, “Little Rog,” and “Bubbles,” but instead, I watched through eyes blinded by tears.  Tears of pain, tears of sadness and loss, yet I shed other tears, as well…

Tears of respect as I watched each member of the Waynick family seat themselves in the pew, tears as I listened to the oldest daughter, Elizabeth, speak of her father and share words of his wisdom, tears as I wrote these words down, praying that I would never forget them, tears as I watched Roger welcome her back to her seat… Tears as the desperate cry, “Oh, Sweet Rog…” escaped from my lips while watching him walk to the podium himself, tears as I watched my best friend tug at the sleeves of his suit jacket and I whispered a silent prayer for his strength, tears as I heard his voice catch while speaking of his dad…a hunting buddy… a fishing buddy…and tears of submissive trust that everything in life has a purpose: I cried many tears, many tears.

While this pain of loss waged war inside me, there was something even greater that was not willing to lose this haughty battle.

Love.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” 1 John 4:16-18

So I hugged my knees as close to my body as I could, making one more attempt to keep it from frantically heaving while my mom wrapped her arms around me.  There was a place in my heart that wanted to feel empty.  It was the place where someone’s wise counsel, inspiration, encouragement, and belief in me filled my heart, pressing against its seams.  My mom’s fingers held tight to my arm, reminding me of the strength we must have to press on.

As the pastor read Psalm 100 and we rose to sing “Amazing Grace,” I decided that death would not have its victory here.  I would not let death take away from me the love and precious memories that I had with Mr. Roger.  I was fighting back the fear of death, the fear of life without this beloved man, but Perfect Love began to rise, determined to cast out my fears.

In those moments, it was evident that death was losing its sting. God was, is, and forever will be love, and He held us in His hands that dreary Saturday.  Even though the pain was more real than any I have ever felt before, God’s presence was abundant, filling the sanctuary as the light filtering through stained glass windows.  And in the voices of the hundreds that came in love and remembrance of a man that lived each day with godly purpose and intention, God’s presence was abundant, as well.  Each day, Mr. Roger lived with love and grace—the husband to a beautiful wife with one of the most compassionate hearts I have ever known, the father to four incredible children that I find myself blessed to call my friends daily.  He even lived as a “rascal,” but most of all, Mr. Roger always lived filled with “Sonshine” that shone through the twinkle of love and mischief in his eyes, a brilliant light that shone on the faces of each person he met.

Today marks a week since the day I frantically sought among the crowded Narthex of Brentwood United Methodist Church—a sea of black jackets and white tissues—for the faces of the family I hold dear to my heart.  And though my to-do lists and planner would say this past week went “back to being normal”—work, class, meetings, etc.—my heart begs to differ…

While I cannot even imagine the struggle that Ms. Nancy, Elizabeth, Will, Roger, and Katie are facing right now, I do know this: God has great plans for them.  For some, this tragedy would break them, but not the Waynicks.  God has given them hearts and a home that has been filled abundantly with love.  They will make it through this hard time as an even stronger family, always living in memory and honor of their loved one, our most loved Roger Scott Waynick.

There are many times that I wish I had better words to say to comfort the Waynick family through this time of grief.  I wish that I had words that could better express my grief yet also encourage them to grow even more in faith.  What I have come to realize though, is that neither life nor all the realities of it on this earth are always describable, measurable, or even fathomable.  But there is something else that follows this description.

Love.

God is love.  He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, and every aspect of His nature—“I Am”—is characterized by His love. He and His love are indescribable, immeasurable, nor can we fathom their significance and jurisdiction over all. We cannot be separated from it; not even death can keep us from His love (Romans 8:35-39).

There are many things that I don’t know, but I do know this: God is good.  God is always good, and He is faithful, even when we are tempted to believe that He isn’t.  In this world, we will have tribulation, but He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  We will feel so burdened that we will despair of life itself, but all of this will happen so that we will learn to rely on God, the one that raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).  We must never lose sight of these truths of our faith.  With all of my heart, I long for the day that He has promised will come to those that have been steadfast in trusting Him, even in the hardest times.

With this, I will now close.  Revelation 21 tells us that one day, God will dwell among us.  He will be our God.  In His lap, we will sit as He wipes away every single tear that falls from our eyes, even the tears that we wish would come, but won’t.  “Shhh, my sweet child,” He will whisper in our ear, “death no longer has a place here.  Mourning, crying, and pain shall be no more for all the former things have passed away…” (Revelation 21:3-6).

To the dear Waynick family, feel our Heavenly Father wrapping His great arms around you during this time.  Hear Him whispering in your ear words of love and comfort.  He loves you so much just as He loves your dad, your husband, Ms. Nancy.  Our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  He loves you all so much.  I cannot say this enough: He is love, and He loves you.  Draw near to him and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

So to all of us—whether walking in the valley of the shadow of death or in the uncertainly of the future—let’s have faith because God is faithful, have hope because God is the trustworthy Almighty, and have love because God is love.

 

Love.

I love you, Mr. Roger.  Thank you for encouraging me to write and for always believing in me.  All of the advice you have shared with me–whether about life, love, and our passion of writing–I will cherish.  I will keep the promise that I made to you… You know what I’m talking about ;).  Thank you for loving me.

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Words are so powerful they should only be used to…

After a small break, I’m back to writing!  A few have mentioned to me, “Okay, Sarah, when are you going to write again?  I’m ready to read a new post!”  Well, today I’m ready to share again.  Here’s why…

Last week, an amazing quote was written on the dry erase board of the office where I work.  “Mark Twain once said, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t have the time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long note instead.'”  These are the words that stopped me and left me completely still.  After all, never before had I thought about a short letter taking more time to write than a longer one.  I had never thought of words this way: each as a powerful unit of communication that should be carefully considered and put together before being said or written.

So I took a week or so to think, to gather words but only to think on them before writing, and here’s what I came up with.

“Words are so powerful that they should only be used

to bless, to heal, and

to prosper.”

Sue Henry, a wonderfully wise woman once said these words, and they are just as true today as they ever have been.

Jesus Christ used the power of words, God’s Word, when caring for the church.  Ephesians 5 reminds us of this where it is written:

“…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by THE WASHING OF WATER WITH THE WORD, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”  Ephesians 5:25-27

Today, be blessed, be healed, and prosper in being washed with the living water of the Word.

Praying your day is filled with Sonshine,

Sarah 🙂

Living in SONshine

Just this past Monday, I saw two guys standing outside a main building on campus holding signs for free prayer.  In my heart, I wanted to go and talk to them, to pray with them and for them–thanking God for their courage to stand in the middle of campus and pray for others.  But in my head, I made excuses… Oh I’m with my friend, and we are supposed to be eating lunch right now before class… I can come back after lunch! We went to lunch, but when I came back by, they were gone.

My heart sank when I didn’t see the signs, and I prayed and prayed that God would forgive me because I felt like I had abandoned him.  He had presented Himself to me in the form of these two guys holding signs, yet I chose something else anyway.  And so I prayed for forgiveness, but I also prayed for a second chance, a second opportunity to see those guys holding signs for free prayer.

Can you guess who I saw today after I left class?  That’s right, they were there!

This time, I stopped, and on the busiest stretch of sidewalk on campus, we prayed.

***

There are so many things that I want to say about this experience, but today I will leave it to you to make your own conclusion.  I will say this, though.  The next time God gives you an opportunity, I pray that you will take the step toward Him and not away.  Just as I learned today, there is an incredible amount of joy that comes from running to Him and living in His Sonshine.

Attitude is everything!

Ever since I was a little girl, my mom has inspired me with many of her favorite quotes, prayers, and Bible verses.  Today, I want to write about one of her favorite quotes…

Attitude is everything!

In the past few days walking around campus–walking through each of my days–I have realized all the more just how true this quote is.  It’s easy to say flippantly, “Attitude is everything,” as if it’s the inside of a greeting card.  But to really believe these words and to see them as true through your own life…this is the critical step.

Take a college exam for an example.  There are many different ways to think about it.  With one attitude, I could say, “Urrrrrrggggghhhhhh!  An exam! Prrroooooocccccrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaassssssstionation (procrastination) has gotten me again, and I have waited too late to study.” On the other hand, I’m trying to learn to adopt this mindset:  Let’s have a competition to see just how well you know the material!  Just like a lacrosse game, see if you can practice and win!

Our attitude has just as large of an impact on our relationship with God, as well.  Every that we face temptation to sin, you can look at the situation one of many different ways.  You can see the temptation/sin as just one more guilt to sweep under the rug of emotions in your heart, or you can see it as an opportunity to ask God for grace and strength!

Always adopt an attitude that gives you a thankful heart!

Today, I encourage you to look for all the different places in your life where attitude is everything.  Look for the times in your life when becoming disappointed, upset, or even embarrassed would be easiest, but remember that Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Today, go out and be thankful!  Go and spread some Sonshine 🙂

God’s beauty revealed in friendships

As I continue growing and experiencing many different parts of life–different seasons, emotions, questions, etc–I find that I learn more and more about God than I would have ever thought possible.

Within the past year, I have learned to see the beauty of the flower above, for an example, as a showing of God’s beauty and as a way for Him to say to me, “Look, look at this flower that I made for you!  Don’t you see its many colors?  I painted it just like that because I knew that you would find delight in it!”

And now, I am learning even more about how God reveals His beauty and love for us through all of our relationships.  I sometimes get worried because I know for me, I often go to relationships looking for something out of it.  Expectations that I have already created for the relationship can take the reigns and most times, take me down a pretty bumpy road.

But now, I’m finding that God gives us friends, family and even “stand-in” family members to show God’s beauty, as well.  If you think about it, the dynamics between two people are amazing!  God is the one that orchestrates all of it, too!  How amazing is it when we can look at the relationship and wonder, “What masterpiece is God orchestrating with me and my friend as the instruments?  What kind of music of worship can we create through the rhythm of our conversation, the crescendo of laughter, and the abundance of joy?”

Tonight, I just want to thank my friends and family for all of their love and support.  There are so many days when I take you for granted and am so consumed with my own, selfish self that I don’t love the way that I should.  For this, I am so sorry and ask for your forgiveness. 🙂

But tonight more now than ever before, I am praising the Good Lord for you!  I am blessed because of you, each and every single one of you.  Even if we have not met yet, I am so grateful for you, too, because I know that God has great plans for you!  I pray that we can meet one day 🙂 ….

It’s 2:10 am , and it is way past my bedtime!  Before I could even think about going to bed, though, I just had to write and let you know just how much I love, adore, and wish to thank you, my dear reader and friend!

Praying your day is filled with Sonshine,

Sarah