Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Living in "The Miracle of the Moment"


It seems everyday, in some way, God reminds me how precious our lives are and, in so doing, has been working a miracle in me not to be so selfish or to take things for granted. Four years ago on this date, on a snowy, wintery stormy Friday evening, two young friends ventured out on a trip to the mall, but didn't come home. One of them was the just-17 year old daughter, Vanessa, of a woman I've known since I have had a memory, Carol. Carol lived across the street from me when I was a kid and I watched her grow into adulthood and eventually leave the nest on Pickard Road. I talked with Carol earlier this week because I wanted to ask her permission to talk about Vanessa on my blog, which she graciously agreed to allow me to do, and, to just let her know that I think about their family and Vanessa's loss, not just on this anniversary date every year, but almost daily, as God's reminder to me to not take my blessings for granted and to live in "The Miracle of the Moment" every day.


The last 2 to 3 years have been a struggle in my relationship with my oldest daughter Chelsea, who is now 16. Not because of anything I've done, other than parenting her, or anything she's done, other than going through adolescence and all the growing pains that go along with it in beginning to "break away" from mom and dad and discovering how to be independent. She's a great young woman, but we have had our share of discouraging moments in our father/daughter relationship over the past couple years or so where she doesn't like me much I'm sure, nor I her. That's not to say we ever stop loving each other. I have been to the point where I was so exasperated by her or her actions that I feel like giving in and giving up and not fighting the good fight on her behalf, which she will never understand until she is older. I'm her father... her protector, the lover of her soul, the shaper of her character... I cannot ever give up on her because there is no one that can take my place.


I've talked to Carol on a couple of occasions about my relationship with Chelsea at this stage of our lives and she could relate well. Vanessa had gone through very similar "growing pains" and just prior to her accident and death, had been coming around and living for the miracle of the moment with Carol again. Carol said they had a rocky relationship the couple years prior, much like Chelsea and I, but that something was working in and changing Vanessa before her death which gave Carol the hope, joy, and peace that everything would be alright. She said Vanessa was beginning to rise above her mistakes and getting on a good path and was not ashamed to admit it and be an example to her friends. Of course, we believe this was the spirit of God working in Vanessa as she was an active part of our church and served lovingly on KidsStreet, our childrens' ministry, and was adored by the young children there.


Carol told me that 3 weeks prior to Vanessa's death, she would get up early around 5:30 a.m. as she had been used to it for early school which had discontinued at that point, and would slip into bed in front of Carol and sidle up to her and Carol would just stroke her hair. She was more clingy, to the extent that Carol had the urge to push her away because of her clinginess, but thankfully didn't. Carol reminded me in our discussion that, no matter what your kids do, just love them and, don't stop, but above all, NEVER give in or give up on them. As much as I have been frustrated in parenting, I will NEVER give in or give up on my girls and with the Lord's daily help I pray I will never take for granted my daily blessings and I pray that you do not either. "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14


Pirrones and Mr. and Mrs. W., I think of your families almost daily throughout the year, I pray God has brought healing to your hearts and given you comfort in the knowledge that one day you will be reunited with your children. Please, have a listen to this, let it speak to your heart and work in your life so you don't miss "The Miracle of the Moment."




Thank you, Carol, for allowing me to speak of this very personal matter here. You have been, and continue to be, a blessing in my life.

7 comments:

Tim Wilson said...

Rick,

Thanks for writing this, it really hits home as I just last night had one of those talks with my 14 year old daughter that we as parents feel like we failed at. She is growing up too fast.

Thanks,

Tim

Sara said...

You sounds like an amazing dad, Rick. I can only imagine the frustrations my parents must have gone through with me. Believe it or not, I was not the "perfect angel" that I am today. :) I'm sure my mother must have wanted to strangle me a dozen times and she surely considered chaining me to my bed to keep me home and safe. I was definitely a wild child and constantly seeking out trouble. I didn't listent to a thing my parents said, ever. Now, (scared of karma) I can only imagine what evil rotten miserable children I will have.

Your girls will soon get through this tough stage and will realize just how lucky they are to have such great parents like you and Tammy. You're right, no one can ever take your place - so you have to remain rooted in that supporting and nurturing place for them. That's the job. And if it wasn't hard it wouldn't be worth it!

Mar said...

Rick,

My mother always said "I hope you have a daughter just like YOU". Ask and ye shall receive. Sabreena is a mini-me. Her mouth, her attitude, her sneakiness, etc. She's a beautiful girl, very giving and kind but she's just as headstrong as I am. She's 9 and we butt heads continually. I remember the sweet days of her being 2 years old, curling up in bed with me and telling stories. Sometimes I wish I could hit the rewind button and find a way to keep us that close.

BUT! As I can't do that, I will learn from you. I'll try to remember that she is only a child. She's going to test my boundaries and I have to do all I can to make her feel safe and loved.

I was a BAD teenager myself. I kept to the straight and narrow in school but at home, I was horrible to my mother. I disrespected her, mistreated her and didn't listen to much she had to say. That got me a one way ticket out of the house. And from there I made mistake, after mistake, after mistake. (we can talk about that some other time! LOL)

I just hope I can do the right things to keep Sabreena from making the same stupid mistakes I have made.

I'm dreading the teen years. I don't ever want to look at her and see dislike in her eyes. Just thought of it is making my eyes sting now. I know it's going to happen. It's all part of growing up. Makes ya wanna pull the 'no fair!' card on the whole situation.

Buuut enough about me..

I only know you from your blog and things you've posted at RA. I try to look back at my teen years and remember what my parents did that made me so hateful towards them. The answer? Nothing. They were parents. They were doing their job. :) You have to be a strong and determined person to raise a child properly. You and Tammy appear to have both those qualities.And better yet, you have each other:)

I had someone tell me today that they did the smart thing, they didn't have kids I just smiled and shook my head. That's not the 'smart' thing, that's the 'weak' thing.

A good friend once said "If your teenager likes you, you're doing something wrong." LOL

Rick said...

Lots of sound words there, Mar. I totally agree with the last quote. The whole thought behind the post is being frustrated with where we're at right now in our relationship because we are wasting our time so preciously given in not getting along, which, like you pointed out you experienced with your mom and I did as well. It can all be taken away so abruptly and, I don't want to have any regrets in our relationship (Chelsea and I), nor with any one else for that matter. That is why I am trying to live with more passion and love for people in general. I don't want to waste the miracle of the moment.

Thanks so much for your awesome words, and you as well, Sara. It means a lot to me.

Tim, it's good to know that we all have common issues in parenting, eh?

Tim Wilson said...

Yea, I think it is all too common, which is what makes it that much more frustrating. We want to do better than others and better than our parents. Not because we think we are any better, but because we strive to do our best.

On a lighter note, and not to poke any fun at the situation, but I have always said that as younger kids we never want our kids to leave, and shed tears even thinking about it. I think it was all in God's plan - that teenagers are they way they are so we will be ready for them to leave when the time comes. Now, don't get me wrong, I dread that day with my three kids more than you can imagine, but teenage years are God's way of making it a little easier. :)

(I really am just trying to be funny - so please don't take it the wrong way if it comes across that way)

Rick said...

I think you may be on to something there, Tim. They (teenage kids) come around though, as Marion, Sara, I, and I'm sure you did. It's just the wasted time right now in this day's moments with her that I lament over when thinking about a tragedy like that I described in the post. And, honestly, she is beginning to mature and come around already. Now, Lindsey is beginning to enter into this phase though. AHHHHH!

Rick said...

Hey, Tim... did you notice I got the video embedding to "go"? Woohoo! Thanks for the instruction!