Monday, April 4, 2011

Will dad come and play ball with me?

Okay, first, i want to say I love my dad - Luther Smith.  He is one of the greatest and most remarkable men that I know.  When I was 8 years old, he adopted me and made me a part of his family.  While we have certainly had our fair share of arguments and disagreements over the years, he has never failed to tell me  - and show me - how much he truly loves me and cares for me.  He has always been a source of great support to me.  And he has constantly reminded me of how proud of me he is.  Even if he didn't agree with a decision I made, he has always been proud of me for being able to think for myself and carefully make my own decisions.  Luther is my Dad and always will be.  However, for this blog, I will refer to another man as "dad".  I use it as a title of reference.  The man I refer to is Raymond Keisser, my biological father.

While at work, we tend to have many random conversations.  Today, the topic of birthdays came up ways to celebrate.  I mentioned that I am not really a birthday celebrator.  It's just not a big deal to me.  Really, it's just another day.  No big deal really.  As a child, the reason was different though.  Far different.  Not only did I not care about a birthday, but I dreaded it.  I wished that the day didn't exist and I was so thankful that mine is in the summer so I wouldn't ever have to be at school for it.  I'll explain in a moment.  I want to be clear though:  What I'm about to share is not meant to induce sad feelings or pity or anything.  My reasons for sharing will become very evident shortly.  I also want to point out that great things have happened with what I'm going to write.  I've really learned to move on.  I can (and have) celebrate my birthday.  Still though, it's not a huge deal for me.  It's just not.  But I have definitely learned to appreciate the day and that others have strived to make it special for me.  And I have loved my past few!  One year my great friend Liz took me kayaking and we BBQ'd.  Another year was a small poker game at my house while we sipped on champagne.  Last year I bought my very own kayak and spent the day out on Marsh Creek just soaking in the gorgeous day.

So here it is.  This is probable one of the most vulnerable things about my own heart I have written yet.

As a young child I remember having 2 things I really wanted.  The first was to live with my dad.  The second was for him to play ball with me.  That was a huge dream of mine.  To go out in the backyard and toss a ball around.  I don't remember how old I was turning this one year.  But I do remember my dad promising me that we'd finally play ball this one day - my birthday.  He went to work in the morning and I was sure to be on my best behavior all day.  I remember spending most of the day sitting on the dining room chair just waiting.  Waiting out of excitement.  Sitting there because I was so afraid of doing something bad that day and him not playing.  Finally, he came home.  Man, I can still see myself squirming in that chair thinking "this is it!  We're going to play ball!".  Dad apparently had other plans.  He walked in the sliding glass door in the back, looked at me and threw a card on the table at me as he walked by.  All he said was "this came from your grandmother".  Those words haunted me for years and years.  Not even a "happy birthday son".  Most definitely not a game of catch outside.  The young adult me says that I should have know better.  This wasn't the first time he let me down and it was far from the last time.  But there I sat.  Waiting.  Excited.  Expecting.  Hoping.  Let down again.  Spirit crushed.  Left all alone again.  Again, I was let down by the one who promised another empty promise.

So why share this?  Because right now, I feel a little like that young boy sitting on the chair waiting.  It's now April 4th.  In 7 weeks and 6 days, I am quitting my job and moving on.  There is no turning back after that.  I'm now looking at things like support raising, potentially monthly support raising.  How much will I need to live off of.  And today I got a bit more clearer of an idea.  And it was a bit higher than I had in my head.  Not by much.  Really, only by about $200 more than I was thinking.

I know without a doubt in my heart that this is the right time.  It is time to move on from my job.  It is time to move on from West Chester.  It's time and I know that.  I also know that The Father (God) is going to provide.  I know that.  I really do.  But do I?  I mean, really?  Do I?  I look at the support I need and think "I can't do that!".  Yet, God is definitely looking at it saying, "no, but I can!".  He's looking at the dollar amount saying "that's all?  You don't need more??  I'll get you more...".

I spent some time outside this evening just sitting under the stars.  And to be very honest, tears flowed as I really starting thinking about it.  More of the "what ifs" came flooding my heart.  What if I don't raise enough.  What if funds just aren't there.  What if dad doesn't come play ball with me?  I was taken back to the birthday I just shared.  And there I was.  Part of me still there asking God "will you come play ball with me?".  I know that I know that I know that He will provide.  I know that from the bottom of my heart.  Yet, there is this little boy in me that has so often questioned every single person who has vowed to be there for me.  There is this child in me that was taught from a very young age to be independent and to rely on one person - yourself.  This young boy that grew up knowing how to take care of himself but not knowing how to let others take care of him.

So there we were.  It was like me and God just staring at each other across the expanse of the stars.  The question just burning in me:  will God show up or let me down?  Finally, I just had to cry out the question:  Are you sure that this is from you?  Of course, the answer to both is "YES!".  Still, I cried, won't it be easier to stay here?  My family is here.  My friends are in West Chester.  I thought about the amazing new ministries being launched at Providence Church and how I could be a part of them instead of going to Kenya.  Couldn't I stay and be comfortable?  Then the answer was engraved upon my heart by way of another question:  Am I willing to have my faith grown?  Am I willing to learn a new faith in my Father (God)?  I kind of felt like saying no.  No, I don't want to learn a new faith.  Because I know that that means difficult lessons.  That requires stretching.

On Saturday night I sat in a church leadership meeting as we discussed some of the new things being launched.  As Pastor Phil was speaking to us he mentioned a fear he had on some things recently.  He said something remarkable to me.  It was encouraging then and even more so now a few nights later.  He said "it's not a matter of having fears.  It's a matter of what you do with those fears".  I'm thinking that the fears I am having are probably pretty normal.  I'm sure I'm not the first to have them.  But I'm making a choice to not let those fears hold me back from chasing my dream and my vision.  I know that "dad will come and play ball" in this.  I know that I won't be let down.  I may still be working through this right now, and I may be working through it all the up until I get on that airplane in late August.  Maybe even longer.  I don't know.  But I do know that I'm not going to give up just because it seems hard.  I'm not giving up just because I don't have the finances and I'm not good at asking for help.  I'm not giving up because he future is so uncertain right now.  What I am going to do is get up off of that dining room chair though.  I'm going to start to suck up my pride a bit and learn how to raise support as I allow others the joy of giving and sowing into me.  It's not an easy thing for me.  But my good friend Joe put this was a few months ago.  He looked me in the eye and said "you need to understand that if you do this, it's your job.  And you need an income.  This job just requires you to raise your own income."

I'm going to allow my faith to be stretched during this time as it grows into a faith I never dreamed possible.  I'm going to learn a whole new dependency on God.  Heidi Baker wrote in her book Compelled by Love that "we need to learn to be fully dependent on the One who is fully dependable".  And that's what I will learn.  Like I said, I'm still working through it.  But I'm committed to the fight.  I refuse to quit because I know that the stakes are too high.  I know that there is an amazing journey waiting for me in Kenya.  I know that there is something far greater than I my mind can dream up that is waiting for me.

Wow, this went long...But as a follow up, I really want to reiterate that I love my dad (Luther).  That game of ball I always wanted - he did that for me along with so many other experiences of playing in the park, flying kites, teaching me to swim, ride a bike, play tennis, and so many others.  I'm proud to call this amazing man my dad.  And I always will be.

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