Life-View Property

Most everyone wants to move up in life. Most people have a desire to succeed and thus, show off that success in the form of grand homes, luxury cars, and expensive things. One area that helps to represent status is location. Not only does it matter, to some, where you reside, but where you vacation or even how many real estate properties you own. Whether it’s a condo at the new Aria tower on the strip in Las Vegas or a mansion on the coastline in Monterey, California…you have made it. You have a view that most people will only get to see on postcards, in movies, or on some television special featured on the Discovery Channel.

But what else is there? Around holidays and birthdays, there’s that familiar question for rich people, “What do you get for someone who has everything?” And on the flip side, for the one that goes hungry for the better part of every day, is there more? Is there a hope for something that can salvage the lifeless.

See, I struggle with both. If life is about moving “upwardly”, or at least laterally, I’d make the most successful list at around four-billion two-hundred thirty-seven. Diverse portfolio, CDs, and off-shore bank accounts are not in my every day vocabulary. But I am also not sitting at the base of some great statue wondering where life passed me by. No, I’m standing in the middle of an intersection with life happening all around me.

Last night, around three o’clock in the morning, I’m staring at the parking lot lights coming through the balcony blinds. My life’s path was racing through the highways of my mind. I was unable to focus. I was too tired to think and I was too caught up in everything to sleep. It’s amazing how our own minds can be its own torture chamber. The slide show of people in my life passed across the front of my skull as if to ask, “How have you cared for this person lately.” The true nature of me is selfishness. Which in turn, leads to guilt. Such a vicious cycle that so many are willing to live in. Because taking a step, reaching out for a hand, and being pulled through the vortex of being loved seems so foreign. To love, one must know what it is to be loved.

In the middle of these thoughts last night, I called and woke up my parents. I shared with them that Liz was back in the hospital. I shared that due to life’s circumstances, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and that it had already begun to affect my attitude, my words, and unfounded thoughts of loneliness and a pinch of hopelessness. Before hanging up the phone, after a several minute call, mom prayed for me and our family. Soon thereafter, I was back to sleep, preparing for the day ahead.

And once the day got started, it appeared that God was going to be riding up front with me and not just directing things from above. (Please bear with me. Each story, each moment has me reeling a bit tonight.) I’ll start with Liz: The kids and I walked into her hospital room around lunchtime. It was dark. The lights were off and the shades had been drawn. It was not a place for my wife. A cold, dark cell for the sick? A room for the ill and suffering? For how long, God? I walked over and jerked open the curtains and then turned towards Liz…there was the answer to a question I hadn’t even asked yet. “Donny, she’s here cause I want her here to get well. She’s here cause you can’t fix her, but I can. You and your home need tending to and your wife needs some time to rest. Stop your whining and focus on the fact that I am here with her when you can’t be. Do you not have enough on your plate? That’s what you keep telling me. Look at the bruises on her leg and arm. Look at the blood on her gown and bed sheets from where they keep trying to get an IV started. How do you think you’d handle this at home? I’ll tell you how long…as long as I want. Is she not more mine than your’s?” This is when I knew things were going to be fine. I don’t know when or how things will be fine, but the hope I have been given is more meaningful than a wish or dream. So, my prayer tonight is not for God’s timing to be moved up by several hours, but rather, than I learn from His words and no longer doubt His control of my simple situations.

My next “slap in the face” was about mid-afternoon. This time, God used Hudson. See, Hudson doesn’t have great mobility with his left arm and hand. In fact, when he holds a cup, he uses his right hand and the outside of his left wrist. This all stems from the brain bleed at birth due to his prematurity. But, as any smart person does, he has learned to adapt. While in the car this afternoon, Hud heard a song on the radio that he loved. When I first heard the sound from the backseat, I thought one of the kids were doing something they weren’t supposed to be doing. I turned my head to say something, but I was stopped by a beaming smile, the sounds of gleeful singing, and the in-time beat of Hudson’s clapping. His left hand sort of turned up towards his left shoulder and his right hand was freely coming across his body to clap. My five-year son, by himself, was making a joyful noise. Despite mom’s hospitalization and dad’s stress and all the running around they were doing with me, my son was loving life. God’s message this time: “See Donny, Hudson is different. He’s not like most people around him. He can’t do all the things that everyone else gets to do. He doesn’t make any excuses nor does he complain. He takes his life and enjoys it. Stop considering your limitations and focus on worshiping in all the days given to you.” And if I am not mistaken, His sense of humor in all this came out. It was as if God told me to “shut-up and sing.”

The next three are not in chronological order. But I want to talk about Madison. My blue-eyed girl is a follower. My family is made better by this precious moments’ angel. Tonight, as I was tucking her in, I sat on her bed. She was trying so hard to look up at me, but her eyes were just too heavy. I told her it was okay, that she could go on to sleep. So she slowly closed her eyes and her mouth began to drop open. A few seconds had passed and I thought she was already fast asleep. But, with her eyes closed, with me not saying a word, Madi says, “I had fun with you today, Daddy.” I knew where God was going with this one: “Donny, it’s not always about having the latest and greatest. It’s not about being first in some sort of life race. But it is about seeing Me in what you’re living for. You didn’t do anything fun today, but yet, you’re daughter genuinely loved being with you. When you let me lead, you can be someone who your children want to be with. Or you can choose to live as the bundle of nerves you turn into when you go your own way. But I think I know what’s Madison’s choice would be.” He always ends His teaching moments with hope. Do I end my teaching moments with hope? Not sure whether to feel beat up or encouraged.

With Samantha, you would have thought I was her long-lost best friend. Every time we got out of the car today, she wanted to tell me some story. She would laugh and giggle most of the time and wanted me to listen to every detail, no matter what was going on. And every time I thought she was done, “Baby girl, that’s an awesome story.” Only to hear, “Daddy, I’m not done yet.”  Wasn’t real sure what God was teaching me in this and thus, assumed there was nothing there. Then it was as if He brought out a mirror. “Ever get the feeling that a story or a ” needs” request is never going to end, Donny? Why is it that you can go on and on and on about how you want this to change or you want that to be different or that you think I should go ahead and get involved by now, but it’s not okay for Sam to engage her own father in something that she thought was funny or interesting? Donny, have you considered letting me be involved in all areas of your life instead of peppering me with needs, wants, and complaints? The suggestion box is always open, but remember, I have a few of my own to pass on to you.” He was talking about my need to control situations and the people in it. As I sit here thinking of this, I wonder if I rush in to control a situation because perhaps I am afraid that others will see a flaw or worse, an already present failure. I have convinced myself that it would be better to crush someone’s moment by bullying my way in rather than letting them give their two cents or ten minutes.

The last lesson came from my six-year old son. He was the last one I was saying goodnight to. He was all smiles and just laying there, waiting for me to hug him and let him know how much I love him. I was getting ready to head to the door when his little sleepy voice says, “I can’t wait for tomorrow, Daddy.” “Really, bud? Why not?” “Because I had fun being your helper today. And I know I can be a helper again tomorrow. Me and you are good helpers together.” My son isn’t asking to go to the pool or the zoo or to a friend’s house. He is asking to do whatever it is I need him to do. Others first. “Donny, someone with a servant’s heart doesn’t just serve others. They truly want to put others ahead of themselves. They want to elevate others to a position of success. Until you want that, all the time, for everyone, you won’t be satisfied. If you’re all about people…prove it.”

Today was a good day. I got a lot accomplished. I learned a lot. And today, I grew. Not taller or wider. But I grew a little bit closer towards becoming someone God Himself will recognize as a purpose fulfilled. From where I sit, I have the best view…tonight, I got to see a little bit of what God sees.

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2 Responses to “Life-View Property”

  1. The Lord sure used you as an advocate for more prayer and meditation-reflection time on this father’s part. We’re giving thanks Liz is home and continuing to pray and praise for each one of you and yours/His.

  2. Brenda Burkhead Says:

    Donnie,
    You probably don’t remember me, but you used to play with my son, Chad, at Waddy Baptist Church. He now has two children and lives around Bagdad, Kentucky. I just wanted you to know that you and Liz and the children have been in my prayers. I really don’t know what to say to you, but your web-site is a blessing to me and I will continue to pray for healing for Liz. What a beautiful family God has blessed you with. Take care and remember you have friends here in Waddy that are praying for Liz also.
    Love and Prayers,
    Brenda

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