Really Relating

LIFE, LOVE, AND THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT MAKE IT ALL MATTER

Honoring Dad 04/16/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 11:23 am

Most people don’t say good-bye to one parent on the anniversary of the exact same day that their other parent died. However…nothing could seem more fitting for us. For although our Dad was many things:
·      a shy boy
·      ornery young man
·      loving son and brother
·      brave marine
·      skilled carpenter
·      trusted realtor
·      loyal friend
·      humble, good man and an
·      exceedingly proud father and granddad
He was first and foremost:
            A head over heels,
                        Openly adoring,
                                    Deeply devoted,
                                                And actively loving husband.
He was crazy about our mother!
Although Dad was a quiet man, we grew up hearing him often tell us that our mother had everything from the perfect nose to the perfect toes. His words and actions repeatedly told us that he believed she was the best thing that ever happened to him.
If Dad was in the Living Room watching TV and Mom was in the kitchen, he would call out, “Shirley Ann, where are you? I can’t see you! Come in here.” He always wanted her by his side.
Grieving our Mom, living life, and fighting terminal cancer all with Dad these past several years has been the most difficult gift we both NEVER wanted, BUT feel PRIVILEGED to have received.
Because Mom was gone, we got to experience a concentrated amount of time with Dad. Side by side, we got to do all the Dr’s visits, chemo treatments, scans, etc. We’ve shared more meals, tears, hugs and “I love you”s in these past 4 years with him than we had in our entire lives up to that point. And, every single day we were with Dad, he reminded us of that he truly, deeply loved our Mother and us.
This has been the silver lining in our cloud of cancer.
This has been our gift.
Our time together also reminded us of a truth that we are infinitely proud of,                                   
Although our Dad was small in stature,
He was colossal in character.
We are blessed to have had a father who showed us how to live and how to die with integrity, dignity, loyalty and honor.
Because of all this, we genuinely want to thank you for honoring our Dad today. We know that many of you have known and loved our parents for decades. They treasured the memories you shared and spoke of you all. May your memories of their lives and their love continue to encourage and inspire you…as it does us.
With deepest gratitude for your love and support,
Vickey and Stacey
(Clem & Shirley’s girls)
This is the letter that was read at my Dad’s celebration service yesterday, April 15th. He died the same day as my mom and was buried on the same day as her.

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TOP 20 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MY GIRLFRIENDS 02/24/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 12:29 am
“A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half cracked.”
  
My girlfriends happen to be among THE most amazing women on this planet! They have added fun and laughter, encouragement and unparalleled prayer support during the best and worst seasons of my life. I love them with a passion that defies description and pray God rains down His favor on them. Should He choose to send us all on a fully paid, month-long beach vacation somewhere that is blissfully warm, AND allow us all to look magnificently well in our bathing suits…well, I’d appreciate that too J!
 
In honor of their FABULOUSNESS, here are The Top 20 Things I LOVE About My Girlfriends. I LOVE That My Girlfriends:
  
1.     Understand that chocolate is NOT an option.
2.     Believe that calories don’t count if you share the desert.
3.     Challenge, encourage, and inspire me in ridiculous amounts.
4.     Commiserate with me the effects of hormones, time & gravity.
5.     Don’t edit all my exclamation marks!!!
6.     Come to my rescue when I’m in over my head.
7.     Never make me talk WHILE I’m crying.
8.     Care about me and those I love.
9.     Hold my hand, let me cry, clean my house, feed my family, & cover me in prayer when my world falls apart.
10. Think I’m funnier, smarter, and far more talented than I really am J
11. Send me sympathy cards when my animals die.
12. Come in all shapes & sizes, color & chronological age.
13. Buy tacky cards and great presents for my birthday.
14. Treat me like I’m family – the family that they like!
15. Let me ramble. And ramble. And ramble.
16. Are warm, witty, fun, friendly, deep, purposeful, kind, caring, & faithful.
17. Come when I call.
18. Don’t make me explain how I got from one thought to another.
19. Love me, just as I.
20. Let me love them.
 
I LOVE My Girlfriends!
  
Really Relating
What is one thing you most appreciate about your friends? Go ahead, brag on ‘em!
 

How to A.P.P.L.Y. God’s Word 01/19/2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 9:44 am
Thirty years ago this month I led my very first weekly Bible Study. I’d never been so scared in my life! Lying in bed the night before, I silently told God all the reasons why I was the absolute worst candidate in the world to lead a Bible Study. It was a fairly substantial list J. My loudest objections included:
  
·      I had absolutely zero theological background – I didn’t even know what that meant!
·      I’d only learned to study my own Bible the year before.
·      I was so uncomfortable speaking in front of groups that with many tears I’d begged my 7th grade Speech teacher to let me drop her class.
·      I had a gigantic inferiority complex.
  
Need I say more? Surely God could have found a better candidate, right? But, what He did find in me was a girl who had absolutely positively fallen in love with Him and His Word. After years of trying to read and understand the Bible on my own, someone finally taught me how to do so. This so radically changed my life that all the rational reasons in the world couldn’t keep me from helping others learn how to feed themselves from Scripture!
  
Do you have trouble applying God’s Word to your life? If so, here’s a simple acrostic I’ve created that’s helped me. These are 5 Questions you can ask yourself anytime you come into contact with God’s Word and are wondering how He would have you A.P.P.L.Y. it your life:
  
A – ADMISSION to make 
Is there something within this passage that I need to admit? (an attitude, etc)
P – PROMISE to claim 
            Is there a promise that I can personally claim for my life?
P – PRAISE to pray 
            Is there something I need to praise/thank God for? (characteristic of His, etc)
L – LESSON to learn 
            Is there a lesson here that I need to learn?
Y – YIELDING to do
            Is there something I just need to stop and yield to?
 
Not every question will be pertinent for every Scripture, but your intentional focus will allow God and His Word to become far more personal to you. Find a passage and A.P.P.L.Y. it to your own life. I’m confident you’ll find yourself falling deeper in love with God and His Love Letter to you.
 
Really Relating
What’s your favorite Bible Study tip?
What helps you to apply God’s Word to your everyday life?

 

 

Friends or Family? 11/24/2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 6:26 pm

“Friends are the family we get to choose.”

Be honest. If your life was a reality television show, and if you’d been given the opportunity to hand pick who you would and wouldn’t be related to…well, would you have chosen each of your family members??? I’m guessing there’s one or two you would have voted out of your family tree, as well as off the island, the stage, the runway, and the dance floor!
I think that’s one of the reasons that we love our friends so much: they’re not assigned to us; we actually get to pick them. Besides common interests, we share the beliefs and convictions that determine the way we live our very lives. It’s connecting on such deep levels that make our friends more than friends…they actually become our family.

Jesus felt that way about a group of His friends. Once, when He was teaching in someone’s home, He was so surrounded by his closest friends and other followers that his mom and brothers couldn’t even get through the door to talk with Him. When someone told Jesus that His family wanted to see Him, Matthew 12:49-50 says He pointed to His disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Jesus wasn’t downplaying the importance of family. What He was doing was elevating the importance of friendship. Essentially saying, “These people here get me! They know and accept who I am. They believe in what I believe in. They are so important to me that I consider them as family!”

I’ve always been deeply grateful for my own family of choice, but never more so than now. The truth is my own family is shrinking. In the past three years, my husband and I have grieved the deaths of our family’s patriarch and of both our mothers. My father was then diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we’ve said good-bye to both our children as they’ve flown our homey nest to spread their wings at college. While I’m weary of saying good-bye, I’ve been beautifully blessed with a treasured gift in the midst of this hellaciously hard season:
   
A much, much welcomed family of choice. 

As I count my many blessings this Thanksgiving, I’ll certainly thank God for each and every relative I still have on this earth. But, I won’t stop there. More than ever before, I’ll be thanking Him for the priceless privilege of having another family, a family I get to choose. And because there’s always new friends to be made, that’s a family I can increase. So, be gone shrinkage! Bring on the friends – the family I get to choose!

Really Relating 
What do you appreciate most about your family of choice? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
 

Rx for Anxiety 11/16/2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vickey Banks @ 5:39 pm

Worry. It’s the uninvited guest who kidnaps your concentration and causes your heart to race. It sucks the life out of your days and keeps you up at night.
  
Friday after Friday, I sit in a hard, uninviting waiting room chair, next to my Dad and trying for the life of me to think of something to do or say that will ease the troubled mind of this man who has been my hero my entire life. But, it’s not just his mind that needs quieting. No, it’s also my own. He’s the patient, but the oncology waiting room can hold us both captive.
  
We’ve been doing this ill-fated dance with terminal Cancer for 2 ½ years now, and to be honest, my head is starting to spin again. What will the doctor say today? What are the results of Dad’s latest scan? Is the cancer growing again? Will he decide to keep doing the treatments that are sapping the life out of him? Or worse, will he not, because they’re no longer working? Oh God, just please don’t let him cry – I don’t think I can take seeing him cry. And, please oh please, please don’t let me cry. Keep me strong for him, God. I feel like I’m holding my breath and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to truly breathe again. God…I think I’m running out of air.
   
Tenderly, God reminds me of a well-worn passage,
  
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,  
WITH THANKSGIVING, 
 let your requests be known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
  
Now, my Bible doesn’t really record the phrase “WITH THANKSGIVING” in bold capital letters. The words are there, just not with the emphasis with which I see them. But, it’s that emphasis that God impresses me with over and over again when I start to rework worry in my head. It’s as if He’s saying, “Start your list, Vickey.” He doesn’t have to say anything else, because I know exactly what He means. It’s a little trick He taught me a few years ago…a prescription, if you will, to quiet my overanxious mind. It might not be FDA approved, but it has shaken me out of my negative preoccupation more than once: I just start saying, “Thank You” to God for every single thing that comes to my mind.
  
Many of my thank yous are related to my worry, but the gratefulness grows. Thank You, God, for doctors that know more about this than we do. Thank You for Heaven and the promise of a place where there’s no more death and dying, no more cancer and chemo and cells gone cookoo, no more tears and saying good-bye. Thank You that I’ve had a father to love and one that loves me. Thank You that no matter what does or doesn’t happen, You will NEVER leave me. Thank You that I can talk to You about anything at anytime. Thank You for being big enough to handle my questions. Thank You for pain medicine and promises from Scripture…
   
Amazingly, I find that when I “start my list,” my preoccupation does change – even when my circumstances stay the same. My breathing relaxes and the corners of mouth often even turn up into a smile. Instead of fighting tears of concern, I allow grateful ones to fall because I’m reminded that I have a Heavenly Father who knows my fickle heart better than I do, yet passionately loves me anyway. I’m encouraged by rehearsing His character and promised constancy in my life.
  
Yeah, I’m not a fan of the waiting room. But, you know what? The Great Physician is in. Every single day from here to eternity. And, what is the promised result when we take our medicine and start giving thanks?
  
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7
  
Peace. Blissful, life-altering, hope-filled, breath-inflating peace. Ahhhhh, that’s a cure we could all use. I’m more than willing to take my medicine today. How about you?
  
REALLY RELATING 
What are you prone to worry about?
If you were to start your own “with thanksgiving” list, what would be at the top of it today? Let me know so we can thank God together.