To Heck With It…I Choose To Be Thankful

That’s right…I’m making the decision today to choose to be thankful. I’m still grieving the loss of my nephew and the pain that my brother and his wife and two children find themselves in right now (hence for the late posting). But today I’m thankful…for the things that really matter. I’ve been reminded this week that life is fleeting, that nothing is for sure. I know that Scripture agrees with me cuz somewhere it speaks that we are like smoke…like flowers that last for a day and then – poof! they’re gone.  So here goes…

I’m thankful for growing up in good dysfunctional family. That means that even though it was dysfunctional, it was good. My family loves me and I love them. According to the family experts, my parents would fall short of the ‘perfect parents’…but that’s what makes them perfect.

I’m thankful for my own family that April and I have created. April has been a gift to me…and one not deserved either. We put up with a lot from each other, and yet we continue to love each other and do the best that we can. Again…not perfect…but that’s what makes it perfect.

I like my son, Zac. He’s goofy at times…and yet can be very thoughtful, a deep thinker and very serious about wanting to be real about life. He’ genuine and the real deal. While he can write awesomely and can do a vlog that keeps you wanting to come back for more… there are things he can’t do. He’s not into sports, nor does he have much interest in working on cars. So definitely not perfect…and that’s what makes him perfect. Oh yes…he is very adept on the guitar!

Allie, my middle daughter. What people don’t see about her is that she is a heat-seeking missile. What I mean is that she believes in herself more than others do. When she wants something, nothing stops her from getting it, even when others can prove that she won’t. And I can’t think of the times I was sure she couldn’t get something…she got it! Her husband Justin was the object of her heat-seeking capabilities. Today they have a cool apartment and are doing well in their marriage. There are things I will always wish for her…cuz she isn’t perfect…and yes, that makes her perfect.

And then there’s Autumn. Now there’s a homebody if I ever saw one. April and I are going to have to ‘stop cooking with cheese’ if she’s ever going to fly the coup. Autumn is a natural photogenic person…she looks awesome in just about any photo that is taken of her. For the rest of us…we have to work at it. Autumn will one day work in some field bringing hope to busted people…she will be a guiding light for them. She just needs little boosts from time to time to believe in herself…cuz she just isn’t perfect… You know what I’m going to say by now… which make her perfect.

I’m thankful for my kids and who they are, and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. (Okay…maybe a couple of things…like introduce them to the vacuum cleaner).

I like my friends a lot…they accept me for who I am. It was only a few years ago that I prayed like a mad dog for some friends I could be real with. God heard my prayer. And yes…we get to vacation together for the next two weeks, starting tomorrow…what a blessing that is! They remind me a lot of Jesus…who loves me as I am…not as I should be.

And so these are the people who are important to me. How do I know? When the going gets tough…they are always there. And that is what makes a family a family. For that I’m thankful.

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Today I Mourn… S.A. Brandon McKinnroe (Roe) March 9, 1977 – November 5, 2011

At our 11am service I was just getting ready to speak when I felt my phone buzzing. Strange…most people know what I do and so to call me at 11:45 on a Sunday is either you don’t know me…or it’s an emergency. I joked about it with the congregation and just as quickly dismissed it. It rang again a few minutes later. I had finished speaking and the congregation had been praying (great service by the way!), and then folks began to slowly disperse. I checked my phone and noticed an email had come in…from my brother, Brian, who was in Kiev, Ukraine on a mission trip.

I quickly scanned the email and sat there stunned as I read the words that my brother’s second son, Brandon had died suddenly on Saturday. Stunned, not only because of his age – it’s just that this is not the way life is supposed to unfold – not this way.

All kinds of emotions came rushing in. I sat there totally heartbroken for my brother and his wife, Marg and their other children, Graham and Erin. I could sense the helplessness Brian must be feeling being half way around the world and not returning until this evening. And then all the questions and feelings of unresolve. You see, Brandon had chosen to distance himself from the family. Not really sure why and I’m not about to judge or guess either. I will say this…we don’t know the crap that he has had to deal with in his life. The battles that have gone on in his mind, along with all the confusion that life may have thrown his way.

And so instead, this week I will remember him…remember his life as seen through my eyes.

I always wondered what went on in his mind. As a young boy, mischief was written all over him and when you looked into his eyes it was there too. I would swear there were times when his eyes would be inviting the sliver of mischieviousness that was in me to come out and play. He liked to have fun and could be witty with the best of us. He could poke fun and receive it, however, you always knew that he would probably one-up you.

I remember during his high school years seeing a side of him that I didn’t even realize existed in our family. He could draw brilliantly, and I remember the one day when I saw one of his first drawings. There in his bedroom on the wall was a drawing of some sort of action hero that was his own creation. As I stood there and admired this creation, I could detect that hidden within that drawing was a true artist. Of course the one drawing that stands out for me was his extremely detailed drawing of a loon on a lake in northern Ontario. What a gift Brandon had…he definitely had the wow factor!

Some would say that Brandon was an enigma…especially when after graduating from high school he enrolled in a math program at a university. I have always wondered why someone with the artistic ability that he had would enrol in such a program. I remember hearing that Brandon figured there was no money in art, and so choosing something like math was the ‘logical’ thing to do.

Brandon was a thinker, and I believe a deep thinker, which meant that he asked questions about everything. I remember about eleven years ago when he visited our church one Easter Sunday, afterwards we had a good conversation, and it was clear that he was exploring his faith in Jesus Christ. I realized then that he had a lot of questions that the church had answers for. My guess is that Brandon wasn’t looking for ‘answers’ as much as he was looking for a place of authenticity…a place where he would belong.

Brandon McKinnroe is definitely a ‘Roe’ and I’m proud that he was and will always be a part of our family. He has touched lives and has given us all permission to be the person that all of us long to be…simply to be ourselves.