Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Tribute To My Girls, In My Daughter’s Eyes

Last weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to have front row seats at the local Martina McBride concert.  One of the songs she sang was, In My Daughter’s Eyes, which I've heard a thousand times and loved ever since it came out, back in 2003.  For your enjoyment I linked a video here* and posted the lyrics at the end of this story.

As many times as I've heard it, I've always thought of it as a mother-daughter song, until the last time when I suddenly realized it was a daddy-daughter song as well. When that thought hit me, I lost it. In that moment, all the love for my little girls came flooding to the surface. My little girls aren't so little anymore, plus the two I started out with was increased when I remarried and gained two wonderful step-daughters, and when my boys married, two more beautiful daughters-in-law joined our family.

There’s something special about the relationship a father has with his daughters that’s different than with sons. Even though my girls were “sugar and spice…” growing up, they were kind of tomboy too, but in a good way - balanced. I’ll never forget the time Melissa and I went 4-wheeling across the pasture in our old Jeep for her first driving lesson or how beautiful she was on her wedding day at Cocoa Beach when we were all dressed in white. Then there’s my Em.  She and I spent hundreds of hours together on the archery range, and she’s grown into a beautiful young woman who’s intelligent, compassionate and kind.

I’m still getting to know my bonus girls – Amber, Savannah, Jessie and Melissa, but what I've learned so far is they are beautiful, hardworking, intelligent and dedicated women who do the best at what they have been called to do right now as wives, moms, students and breadwinners.  They’re daughters of God, and I treasure each of them.

Dads out there, I encourage each of you to appreciate the daughters and young ladies of your life.  Treasure them, tell them you love them, and appreciate the stage they’re in right now.  They need to hear and feel it from you today, and when they do both of your lives will be blessed.  Someday I’ll be writing another story dedicated to my great sons and my beautiful grand kids, but this I had to share with my girls today.  So proud to be your Dad, Step-dad and Father-In-Law. - gus

Here are the lyrics...

In My Daughter’s Eyes
In my daughter's eyes,
I am a hero,
I am strong and wise,
And I know no fear,
But the truth is plain to see,
She was sent to rescue me,
I see who I want to be,
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes,
Everyone is equal,
Darkness turns to light,
And the world is at peace,
This miracle God gave to me,
Gives me strength when I am weak,
I find reason to believe,
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand around my finger,
How it puts a smile in my heart,
Everything becomes a little clearer,
I realize what life is all about,
It's hanging on when your heart has had enough,
It's giving more when you feel like giving up,
I've seen the light,
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes,
I can see the future,
A reflection of who I am and what will be,
And though she'll grow and someday leave,
Maybe raise a family,
When i'm gone I hope you see,
How happy she made me,
For i'll be there,
In my daughter's eyes

The song was written by James T. Slater, produced by Martina McBride and Paul Worley.  The song features accompaniment from pianist Jim Medlin and string arrangement by Don Hart.  It was published by RCA Records Nashville on the Martina album, November 2003.

*Video - Live performance at the CMA Awards 2003. In that CMA edition, Martina won her third Best Female Vocalist of the Year.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why Everyone Should Blog (Journal), and How To Do It. #201

For post #201, I needed to write this, to promote blogging and journaling...

I've been blogging from 2008 under the premise of communicating with my distant children, recording events for posterity, historical value, blah, blah, blah.  That is all true, however, I have to admit though, when I get 800 readers in one day and 20 new Twitter followers it bolsters my ego.  Hey, I'm human.  What else can I say!

In reality though, its way more important than that.

I recently read my sister's blog who lives in a far away state from me, and she was relating the story about the birth of my next older brother.  To hear about the day he came home from the hospital and how she loved on him, pampered him and watched over him like a mother duck means the world to me to read about.  Someday I'll post a link to that story.

I've heard all my life about the therapeutic value of journaling, to record our emotions and events, so we can read back, prevent future mistakes and recall blessings and learning events from the past.  Taken from Alan Henry of LifeHacker, March 2014, a popular blogger who wrote a good story about why to journal.  He wrote...

Anne Frank's diary
Some of the most influential people in history kept detailed journals of their lives.  Those journals served two purposes: a permanent record for posterity, and cathartic (emotional) release for the people writing them. Even if you don't think you need either, keeping a journal has great benefits you can enjoy immediately...  the rest of the story...

Let me say a bit about hard copy journaling verses blogging...

- Completely private.
- Already in print, your hand writing
- Nobody sees it until you die
- 1 copy

- Private, Semi-private or Public
- Electronically vulnerable, but very secure and completely printable
- Available to others when you want it to be
- Available to as many people as you want, wherever they are in the world.

This is how I do it...

1) Sometimes I blog here directly, and here's how...Google (verb) "how to blog".  220,000 results will come back.  WordPress and BlogSpot are the major hosts.  If you contact me I will (of course) help you get started.  I use BlogSpot or Blogger (the same), because that is the way I started and it's Google friendly.

2) Sometimes, especially at the prison where I work and I cannot have electronics, I keep a little 4 x 6 inch notepad to jot down an idea or thought to later develop.

3) I use my smart phone to record notes and later transpose to paper or this blog.  Lately I am using voice-to-text apps to transpose my thoughts to paper automatically.

I hope you get started writing your own journal, online or otherwise.

A personal note to my children... Melissa, what was it like to adopt a little boy?  Amber sweetie, how are you doing?  Chris, I want to hear all about your experiences in business and with your little ones.  Cam, what is is like to serve in the Marine Corps in the Persian Gulf?  Savannah, how are things going and are you enjoying college?  Ember, tell me about your high school experiences.  I am so anxious to hear!

Finally, I hope you, the reader knows your family cares the same about you.  Let them know what you're up to and that you love them.  You'll never regret that.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Letter of Request for the Ministry

United Methodist Church
FL Atlantic Central Conference
9015 Americana Road, Suite 4
Vero Beach, Florida 32966-6668

Dear Reverend (Name withheld)

Over the last several months I have been working with my Pastor, Reverend C. in the ministry inquiry process, reading, completing assignments and discussing with him the books, The Christian As Minister, and Understanding God’s Call – A Ministry Inquiry Process.  I have also done extensive reading, writing, serving and reflecting on my own, including responding to the Spirit in my online journal, a public website to share my reflections.

A common thread that has run through my life is the profound love of God and ability to work with people, and organizations that serve our community.  When I was a young man I had no idea what a calling was, not to mention what mine was to be.  At the age of 16, I gave my life to Christ, and approached my pastor with the desire to go into the ministry.  I felt love and unity from fellow Christians and the blessings of service. I was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and because of religious pressure, my passion to become a minister soon became discouragement.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized that no matter what my situation or profession was I could still be a minister of Jesus Christ and family pressures would not impede me.  I can now see I was being called, even from an early age to serve God.  It wasn't until I started working with at-risk children, challenged youth and prison inmates that I felt strongly about using my profession to serve God and share Jesus Christ with others.  I realize God has woven a tapestry with my life, giving me opportunities to use these gifts for His kingdom, among my brothers and sisters.

At this time I would like to officially commit myself to the service of God, by serving His children formally as a Pastor and Chaplain.  I respectfully request you consider my application for candidacy for ministry within the United Methodist Church.

G.A. Koerner

Friday, October 10, 2014

What is your North Star?

This story is about acknowledging the positive aspects of our lives, and finding a reliable "compass" or way to guide us.  For those who believe in God, it is about surrender and discipleship.  For non-believers, it is about finding positive role models and life attributes to follow and look toward.

Sometimes when life becomes challenging for us, we need to look beyond our current situations and try to envision the “big picture”  or overall life perspective of the situation, detach ourselves from the anxieties of now and look to a power greater than us to give us strength and direction.

My journal entry from September 29, 2014, 9:00 PM at the prison where I work.

I’m on Outside Perimeter Post tonight at the prison, driving in circles around the outside fence making sure everything is secure.  It’s a rainy night, and it has been drizzling all day long, kind of melancholy, and in a moment of contemplation I wrote this:

What is your North Star?

Lately I've been thinking a lot at night about the stars in the sky.  Spending most of my time in the city nowadays, it’s been a long time since I've seen a clear starry night.  I can’t even remember the last time I went outside and searched for Polaris, the North Star.

For centuries explorers and navigators on both land and sea have used the stars to guide them.  The 16th century explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the first person to circumnavigate the globe, traveled over 37,000 miles.  He primarily used celestial bodies, such as Polaris and seasonal winds to find his way and lead other countless travelers to do the same.  This accomplishment established trade routes that helped civilization develop and grow that we still use today.

In the absence of these guiding lights in the sky, how would he have done this?  He possibly could have done it without these navigational aids, but chances are he would have spent countless weeks or months wandering about not knowing where he was or which direction he was going.

We don’t navigate by stars anymore, at least us city dwellers.  We have roads, maps, and speaking GPS navigators on our phones and at our fingertips, taking us to our destination literally turn by turn.  But metaphorically, what are we using as our Polaris to lead us through life?  Some of us are driven in a certain direction by career, family, money, ambition, education or similar; some of us by religion or politics.  Ultimately all of these drivers are just temporary guides that change.  They are proven to be inconsistent, flawed, of less significant value and can potentially misdirect us.

The North Star doesn't move.  It’s in the north sky and is, and always will be a reliable guide.  I think of God this way.  When my life gets misdirected and my priorities get misaligned it’s because I've taken my eyes off God, the North Star of the Universe and replaced it with something less reliable (usually worry).

Here is a Bible verse in John, chapter 14 that hit me like a rock!  1. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me (Jesus)… 5. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. 

So if your life is lacking direction or if your compass has become misaligned, consider switching to the Great Navigator, God to provide direction and see how that works for you.  May you be blessed in your journey. - gus

PS. If you like this, comment below and share it with a friend.  Meet me on Twitter @guskoerner