Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

Last year I signed up to occasionally review books for Thomas Nelson Publishers. I recently read Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.

I loved this book. It easily makes the short list of my favorite books.

Same Kind of Different as Me tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Ron Hall, an international art dealer, and Denver Moore, a homeless man from Louisiana. After much persuasion from Ron's wife, he reluctantly starts volunteering at a homeless shelter where he meets Denver. His life is never the same. Denver opens Ron's eyes to a whole new world - one where money means nothing and relationship means everything. Little does he know that Denver will bring him through the darkest time in his life.

Told in both the refined, grammatically correct words of Hall and the slow, Louisiana drawl of Moore, this book captivated me from the start. It is extremely well written and made me both laugh out loud and cry hard. It inspired me to look beyond my own comfortable world to see what God might want to teach me through someone who is different than me.

This book demonstrates what it can be like when the Body of Christ functions as God intended it - distinctly different members mutually supporting and loving each other to the benefit of all. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Daddy Stuff to Remember

I'm afraid of forgetting. I've heard this before from people who have lost someone, and I've always thought How could you forget? But it makes sense now. It's the small things I don't want to forget...

I don't want to forget the way his glasses sat perpetually crooked on his nose. He bought them by the six-pack from Costco and they were inevitably getting bent so they never sat straight.

I don't want to forget his gigantic, old school headphones he wore while doing yard work so that he wouldn't miss a Rockies game.

I don't want to forget how he'd let me come plop on his lap anytime, even when I was an adult and even though (as many others have said) I have a bony butt.

I don't want to forget how he wrote emails text messages like a teenage girl, using all sorts of abbreviations like CU L8R and TY and always signed it :> D because he never figured out that the parentheses sign made a better smile. Or maybe he liked it that way.

I don't want to forget how he could whip out pizza dough in 10 minutes and no matter how much I practice, mine never tastes as good as his.

I don't want to forget his huge, quart-sized mug that he would drink herbal tea out of every morning. One of us got it as a souvenir at Disneyworld in 1992 and he used it ever since.

I don't want to forget how he'd always raise his hands and close his eyes during worship in church, even when the song wasn't a "hand raising" song and even when he was the only one.

I don't want to forget the way he always called me Beck, never Becky.

I don't want to forget the way he loved to tell OPJs and then would sit there with this pleased grin on his face while we all groaned.

I don't want to forget how much he loved to eat ice cream. He always had seconds. Always. And if there was a small amount left in the container, he "had" to finish it.

As time goes by, I know these memories will start to fade. I wish there was a way to stop that from happening. I guess I took for granted the fact that he'd still be around doing this stuff for a long time so I wouldn't have to remember it. I'm grateful for the time God gave us with him but I wish it weren't over quite so soon.

I miss my dad.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Tapestry

It's been just over three months since I last wrote. In that time, my life has changed dramatically. Two major events shaped the last 12 weeks, both of which will deeply impact the rest of my life. The beginning of one life and the end of another. A joyful and happy beginning and terrible and painful ending.

So how will I remember the last three months of 2010? On the one hand, my daughter, Cara Grace, was born. She is perfect. Beautiful, happy, easy-going. A complete joy. On the other, my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (bone marrow cancer.) It was agressive. Nasty, horrendous, awful. A devastating disease. The diagnosis came a short three weeks after Cara was born and I was still in the midst of the postpartum hormonal roller-coaster. Needless to say, I was an emotional yo-yo.

The cancer advanced rapidly, almost as fast as my precious baby grew. Every day she would do something new, and every day they discovered a new way the cancer had grown. As my daughter grew healthy and stronger day by day, my dad got sicker and weaker.

By mid-December, less than three months since we first heard the word cancer, Dad was completely incapacitated. He had total kidney failure and had to be on dialysis three times a week. He had fluid around his lungs so he had to be on supplemental oxygen. He wasn't able to walk because he had several tumors on his spine. He was in pain all the time and had lost a lot of weight including all of his body fat. His body had failed him.

By mid-December, less than three months since we first laid eyes on her, Cara was sleeping 12 hours a night and cracking us up with her crazy expressions and baby smiles. She had healthy, glowing skin and grown pudgy and dimpled from her high calorie breast milk diet. She was cooing and gurgling with glee at the everyone who spoke to her. She was a picture of perfect health.

Christmas week. Cara experiences her first Christmas morning. Dad goes into the ICU and ends up on a ventilator. Less than 24 hours later, we are called to the hospital and have to make the dreadful decision to end life support. We sit with Dad until the end. After four excruciating hours, it is over.

The worst three months of my life and the best three months of my life. Life and death woven together to create a beautiful, tragic tapestry.