Category: rod

day 23: for him

rod fall 2013We’ve gotten to the point where we can joke about it, how I never liked high school boys when I was in high school, how I always wanted to be married, how Mer and Der and Liv and Fitz have to be based a little bit on us…

But the truth is, getting to where we are was no laughing matter, and sometimes, living the dream doesn’t feel very fun. Thankfully, the rest of the truth is that the days we laugh until we cry and the days we fight until we laugh are equally important in our journey together.

We raised kids.
We’re raising kids.
We achieved dreams.
We watched dreams die.
We longed for peace.
We live in peace.
We started as best friends.
We became even better friends,
We hold on.
We don’t even think of letting go.

In a time of thankfulness, I consider the profound as well as the mundane, but he…oh, he, is the constant, the rhythm, the rock. To me, he is larger than life, the presence in every room, the quiet voice in my head, the one who gave me children when I longed for them, gives me faith when mine fails me, and cheers for my climb even as he steadies my ladder.

These days, we are more likely to experience a hurried moment surrounded by dirty dishes than a stolen moment in a romantic corner, but that does not change the star of my show, the dashing hero, the handsome love interest, the dear, dear husband.

So, what are you guys doing now?

We used to do this all the time.

Get up early and drive. Be dressed just so. Have a set list. Prepare a short, mental list of goals. Buck up. Settle the children. Smile and act naturally. Respond to the canned questions and comments with canned answers.

singingWe called it ministry. We usually did it 3 weekends out of four. But this kind of ministry… a “singing” at a church on a Sunday morning… well, it’s been two years since the last time.

We were glad for the opportunity; it was for a friend, it was local, it would be fun. And simply put: there is a difference in doing ministry like YOUR life depends on it as opposed to doing it like perhaps someone else’s life does. We didn’t need a minimum or even a morale boost. It was simply, “We get to visit a church and Rod’s gonna sing and hopefully lead some people to worship in a new way. Cool!”

We have friends who still do this travel-and-minister thing because they are called. Our calling for it left us without much ado in a season when God pretty much stripped us of all our creature comforts, even our work. IMG_4162It was strange to wake up and realize, “Hmmm…. We don’t do that anymore,” without there being a press release or any dramatic show of it. In the mean time, He’d replaced our calling with something new. At first, I thought it was smaller: because it mostly takes place within our local church (our beloved, spectacularly awesome local church). And lately, I realize it’s bigger.

See, with a message of grace and a method of integrity, and an “Event” that didn’t ask permission or strive to stroke egos or be fancy, we had a specific goal… I’m not sure we reached it, but I know we forged new relationships that have lasted and had impact and meaning, and that’s probably even better.

We were seeking to change an industry.

Now, we simply seek to change the world.

I could cower from that and decide it’s too arrogant to write. But I don’t think so.

deanna

Not when a friend of mine who started a magazine out of her kitchen last year will be seeing it on the shelves of Barnes and Noble this year. Not when my friend retired from an illustrious and exhausting career as a teacher and found his second act in Habitat for Humanity.

And then there are the life changers I see every day around me: the ones who drop everything and pray for their bankers and doctors… the ones who take meals to strangers who have sickness in the family… the ones who stay with their friend’s mother so their friend can go to church or out to dinner… the ones who give away couches and TVs and beds to people they’ve never met… the ones who move a farick guatemala copymily in the pouring rain just because someone asked… the ones who look at people who are hurting, lost, confused, or lonely and call them by name, and aren’t afraid to hug them, and show them that people still care about people.

Yeah. That’s how we change the world.

I don’t know what my/our “next act” is. Sometimes I still get restless. I love hearing my husband sing more than just about everything. And I love new opportunities to share my writing with others. And make no mistake… I do get that temporary high off of a success, off of recognition. But that is not where I live anymore. Are we doing something of value? Are we helping people get what they need? Are we loving like Jesus? Those are the questions that guide our ministry… and that ministry starts with our own family, our marriage, our kids, our parents, before it works its way outward.

burtons2013

We did not step down or step back or retire. We did not accept a lesser position. We did not leave the ‘limelight’ for the local church. We still sing for Jesus. We still sacrifice to reach out. We still strive to keep the spotlight on the message. We’re still here… following Him. He is leading in places different than we expected. He is surrounding us with people who stayed or came along the way. He is here… every time one of us commits an act of love in His name.

Jesus, help me to love my neighbor even if I don’t understand or agree with her. Help me to find as much satisfaction in cleaning the office toilets as I do in great conversation. Help me to listen more than talk when I pray. Help me to sing my own song with You as my audience. Help me to be kind and patient and helpful and sincere, and not just waiting for my turn. Help me to follow Your lead, whether it leads me to a big stage, a small corner, or something I haven’t even imagined yet. Help me to let go of the past and the people who stayed there and appreciate what and who is in my life right now. Help me to be more like You! Amen.

Though I’ve never seen Him

It’s no secret that I love the beach. I mean, I love the beach. It is my absolute favorite thing about living in Murrells Inlet, SC… and working in Surfside Beach, SC… and hanging out in Myrtle Beach, SC and Garden City Beach, SC. I can pull up to one of those fab “Public Access” signs pretty much any time I desire (and many times not even pay for parking!) and automatically be reminded of something bigger, deeper, and more constant than anything else I can experience with all my senses.

Fifteen months in, our honeymoon is still not over. I still have my shoes off long before my feet hit the sand, I still show up at the store or the office with the bottom (ok, or up to my knees) wet because I couldn’t resist walking in just a little deeper. I cannot explain why I love it so much. It just feels like the purest air and the most beautiful sight and the most familiar home.

Today, without really thinking about it, I made it there earlier than ever, around 7:30 after I dropped the girls off at school. My routine on such days is to put in my earphones and walk awhile, and my plan today was no different. The only notable difference was that I was listening to my husband’s music, which I have not done for a long time. So much of what he recorded during the period of 2006-2010 just doesn’t sound like “him” anymore, but his most recent CD, The Difference, has some moments. One of them is a song written by Shane Roark that is one of my favorites Rod sings. It’s called, “There is a God,” and it happened to be playing as I walked out onto the beach.

I can’t quite describe what I saw or how it made me feel. Everything looked different. The water looked nearly white, like it was being illuminated from beneath. I smiled and nodded as I realized the words to the song playing at that moment were, “Though I’ve never seen Him with these human eyes, I know there is a God.” And then I saw 1… 2… 3!… dolphins swimming along, about 20 or 30 feet out from the shore. It was then that I broke my routine and sat in the dry sand and listened to the words of the beautiful song about our Creator and watched in awe the beauty of His creation.

~

I shared a photo on Facebook as I was experiencing this, and it received such a response that I wanted to share the others. I’m no photographer and these were taken with my iPhone… no editing, just as close as possible to what I saw.

IMG_3545 IMG_3546 IMG_3547 IMG_3548

 

I also want to offer a little present for you if you are reading this…
– Click the photo below for a free wallpaper download
– and click HERE to download the full version of “There is a God.”
– And if you enjoy it, feel free to click here to download the rest of The Difference. (or order the CD here)

“He lives in me, He’s still the same, He’s never changed.”

There Is A God

When stuff got real {and in health, part 2}

(part one is here)

IMG_1122The human condition (I assume. Maybe it’s an American condition? A Christian condition?) means we can make ourselves feel guilty for everything. Sure, my husband is in the hospital and we don’t know what is wrong, but it could be worse. I thought of the wife from a popular southern gospel group, who has spent more than a month at her husband’s side after a stroke and complications. I thought of my friend Kelli, who spent weeks by her son’s bedside in a different state, with her teenage daughter, new home, and fairly new husband left behind. It can always be crazier, more complicated, more serious.

But to me, Rod being on major IV nutrients for 36 hours, and then being told one of his levels had gone back down, felt serious. In fact, I think of that moment as when, er, “Shtuff got real.” Because moments before, in the quiet, early-morning moments before visitors and phones, Rod pledged he was coming home that day, Friday. And even though we both played it brave, it wouldn’t make sense for him to come home if things weren’t doing what they were supposed to do.

And meanwhile, life had to go on. I had no sitter for KK on Friday. There were some floors that desperately needed sweeping and clothes that were piling up.  There was a very special project at work that also involved “the human condition” (a formerly homeless lady we’d ‘adopted’ was moving into her apartment, and I was already a day late with linens and dishes and things…) that had to be cared for. A friend of mine had received disturbing news, and for that, the world needed to stop for a moment. A single mama at church had a scary situation with her baby in the ER of the same hospital, and no one cries alone in my presence. Another friend had a miracle take place on an operating table, and that needed to be celebrated. And on. As much as I wanted the whole world to stop because mine felt like it was imploding a little bit, I couldn’t. Couldn’t cry. Couldn’t really hug my husband. Couldn’t stop being a grown-up.

That turned out to be the best thing.

The details of Friday, of the whole experience, still unfurl slowly in my head. The summary is that I left Rod at 11am for a full day of Life Stuff, and the more I wanted to head back to him, the more delayed I was. The more I wanted my head to be quiet, the more people reached out (which my heart longs for… and here it was, happening. People in 10 states praying for him. I became a one-woman Rod Burton PR Firm… again! :) The more I longed for things to be resolved, the more out of control they felt (’tis why, inexplicably, in the middle of that crazy day, I swept all my floors and did a load of laundry. That, I could control).

Meanwhile, Rod wasn’t alone. Paige visited…our elder pastors..our friend and his son. The nurses were excellent. The phone calls and texts were abundant (even though he was still being covert about his stay). And then, by the time I drove through Taco Bell with the girls and headed back to the hospital, he had a diagnosis.

It happened without me there to listen, without me there to Google, without me there to hold his hand. We had an answer: Celiac disease. One quick read answered a dozen questions from the last few years, and a weekend of reading has answered countlesss more. The more we know, the more empowered we feel, the his history makes sense to us.

room 204Friday night, when all else was said and done, I sat next to my husband, my best friend, my love, in that teeny and kind of awful hospital bed, and after two pretty sleepless nights, he leaned against my shoulder and fell almost immediately to sleep. That is who we are and that is how we do things, and I know it makes me sound like a high school girl to be all “I just want to be with him,” but I just want to be with him, especially when he is vulnerable. That’s our love story. We do this crazy life together, and we are both better for it.

Rod left the hospital Saturday afternoon, not quite 72 hours after entering. I had left him to shower while I went to buy gluten-free bread and Bisquick (thank you, Kroger), and pick up the girls (thank you, Somalia!). By the time I returned, he was dressed in his Kentucky blue, holding his bags, and waiting in the sunshine for us. We made a few calls, put our phones away, and spent most of the remainder of the weekend resting, reading, snacking on gluten-free food (exotic stuff, like fruit!), and generally being thankful for home and health.

There are a hundred themes that this experience has touched in my life. Fear… control… responsibility… marital love… parental love… the fact that I am my parents’ daughter no matter how old or far away I am… the fact that I married a man 13 years older than me… the fact that some friends are friends who call themselves friends and some friends are there in the trenches…faith, trust, reliance on God – not just for my own peace, but for my husband’s life and my family’s wholeness.

I don’t know that there is any one place where I was supposed to “arrive” through this experience. I do know that some things that seemed challenging before, now seem just fine; in particular, eating healthier and weaning myself from my Internet/iPhone addiction. I know that when the chips are down, it is not just a handful of other people who hold us together: it is God, working through me, The Wife, The Mama, of this beautiful family that was made by His grace! And this family is what God gave me to”do.” It is what I will focus my thoughts on. It is what I am so incredibly thankful for.

GF-welcomeThank you to everyone who called, prayed, cared, visited, and also, to those who have already begun sharing your stories!