Thursday, October 31, 2013

To Treat or Not to Treat?

Today is the only day you can get away with eating candy corn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Granted, it may hypothetically happen other days, but it always seems to be frowned upon any other time. Case in point by looking at my desk while I type this blog.
I have amazing memories of Halloween. I can still remember which houses on my street gave the good candy or the penny, and which one put out a large tub to bob for apples. The street always seemed to be filled with friends and fun. As a child, Halloween was a win win situation. Dress up in your favorite costume and perfectly good strangers welcomed you to their homes for candy. Score!
 It wasn’t until I was an adult and working at our church’s pumpkin patch that I ever thought much more of the holiday. Our church is on a main street and it is often frequented by the homeless community. A typical encounter with a homeless man may create a tense situation and may cause some to have their guard up higher than normal. But on this day, the tables were turned. The man kept a safe distance from me as if I was the one who had not showered and he didn’t want to be near me.  
He shouted from the sidewalk at me about the evil I was participating in and how the church would be forever cursed because of its evil practices and allowing pumpkins on our property. He was shouting for me to repent and be saved. Needless to say, I was caught off guard. The Bible is clear that we should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15). There were no words coming to mind in that moment though. In fact, I had never thought of Halloween in any other way other than the innocent opportunity to dress up and get candy.
Now years later, having kids of my own, I must admit….I STILL feel the same way. It is a perfectly innocent opportunity to dress up and get candy. I have been asked by some about my thoughts in regards to Halloween. I have also noticed an increase in Facebook posts encouraging others to not participate in such an evil holiday.
 I walked out this morning to my car and heard voices. I thought it may just be the candy hangover from trunk or treat the night before, but no. My neighbors woke up feeling quite festive this morning and have hung 4 bloody decapitated bodies, heads, and ghosts on a zip line complete with spooky voices playing from the bushes. It hit me like a lightning bolt; I knew that it was time to be “prepared with our answer” on why we choose to participate.
Like anything and everything in life, all things can be taken too far and used for evil. We choose to pick out costumes and get dressed up. We participate in trunk or treats and school activities. And you better believe we will be trick or treating in our neighborhood. I am choosing to teach my kids that just like anything else, people can make it dark, scary, and anything but God glorifying. We will do our best to be in the world but not of the world and shine the light into the darkness. This is the night when we are welcomed to our neighbor’s doors to boldly introduce ourselves when other days even eye contact is few and far between.  But more importantly, we will do our best to not judge those that DO celebrate and those that DO NOT. We all have a past and a reason as to why we do what we do. I will do my best to welcome unconditionally those that arrive in princess costumes and those that arrive in a (gulp) scary mask.
Every year, I will remember that man from the pumpkin patch when we light our poor South Florida rotting pumpkin and I will thank him for helping us to take a stand in our faith and being prepared with a reason for our hope.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
My hope is that we are all filled with the light of Christ ….and of course chocolate and candy corn!

a little yummy fun.
we couldn't slow the power ranger down
long enough to get a picture.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Danny Boy

I have played and replayed what it might’ve been like as heaven awaited your arrival.
I’ve imagined Uncle David lying down with his head on a rock and his hands clasped together and resting comfortably on his chest. His eyes are closed and he’s relaxed. You’d never know he is anxiously awaiting your arrival. He of course is dressed in his regular attire of khaki pants and an old white t-shirt tucked in and finished properly with a belt. Uncle Bud on the other is fidgeting and shifting his weight in his stance wondering why it’s taking you so long. His hand is cupped with his awaiting cigarette and I can see him looking in the distance watching and waiting for you. And just like Uncle David’s predictable choice in wardrobe, Uncle Bud is also adorned in his classic blue jump suit and comfy shoes.
As you walk up, Uncle Bud’s lips curl up on the end, with his head cocked sideways. His eyes always seemed to have a certain glow about them when he shared the “proud smile”. Makes me think of Baboo every time.
David jumps up abruptly without much ado and greets you with one firm hand on your shoulder while cupping your cheek with his free hand. “Danny my boy” he says, “it’s good to see you”.
There’s suddenly a commotion as if the Red Sea was parting and through the commotion standing not more than 5’3’’ is Baboo herself. She shews them aside so she can get her first look at you. She seems to hesitate with a deep sigh like she’s trying to take in the whole moment. She’s overwhelmed with so many emotions all at once as she embraces you. Her small frame squeezes you tightly and she begins to hum in your ear like she did every time to tell you she loves you in her own unique way without even having to use words. She’s thinking about her own daughter and wondering how she’s holding up. Praying, holding, pushing, and wanting her daughter to know that he’s in good hands and trusts that she is too.
What would I say to you if I had one more word, one more conversation, one more laugh, one more glance over your dark rimmed glasses, or one more moment?
You introduced Casey and I to MTV and I wasn’t quite sure about it at the time but as I watched the two of you stare at the TV in awe, I knew it must’ve been something so cool and something I would have to learn to love. I looked up to you.
It was rare for you to ever be left speechless especially when it came to family gatherings. You were always impersonating another family member or making sarcastic jokes about the other conversations happening around us. It wasn’t until “Lay what you got on the table” took on a whole new meaning during a family card game with Baboo. One of the most vivid parts of that story was the look of complete shock and your dropped jaw. I laughed with you. 
You listened…full on…committed as if you could hang on every word that was shared with you. I was accepted.
My wedding day was a struggle, but you came. You stood with assistance, but you came. You walked a little slower than before, but you came. Still looking over your dark rimmed glasses, with a smaller than usual smirk, but you came. You fought and you came and then you came back. I admired you.
Regardless of the day, event, the reason…you smiled. Every story and moment I have relived about you this week, is you smiling. It was a smile that could warm a room, welcome strangers, and make you feel accepted in an instant. I will forever treasure.
No one could mistake you for wanting to be the center of attention. Your gift was to sit back, take it all in, being ever present and never missing an opportunity to poke fun and provide the comic relief or smart alec comment that made it all ok to realize that family is family. I thank you.
I have worked overtime trying hard to not figure out what was the last time, the last conversation, the last moment we shared. Instead, I take comfort knowing that I’m sure it was like every other good bye. Your low voice would warmly greet me, complimented with a glance over your dark rimmed glasses, followed with a full on hug that held nothing back, and finished with a kiss on the cheek and an “I love you”.  
So Danny Boy, I look up to you, I laugh with you, I was accepted by you, I admire you, I will forever treasure you, I thank you, I love you, and I miss you!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Daniel Pierce HERNANDEZ Obituary HERNANDEZ, Daniel Pierce 49, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, after a brief illness. Dan graduated from the University of Central Florida and earned a master's from the University of Florida before moving to Washington, DC, where he served four years as a legislative aide to Congresswoman Karen Thurman. His expertise in writing and research led to work on several congressional investigative projects before he returned to live in his native Tampa. Dan was preceded in death by his father, Dr. David E. Hernandez; and survived by his mother, Barbara Garrison Finkbeiner; stepfather, Edward Finkbeiner; brother & sister-in-law, Larry & Gloria Hernandez of Long-wood; nieces, Alicia Hernandez of Longwood, and Eileen Hernandez; and his great-nephew, Jameson Edwards of Melbourne; aunt, Barbara Garrison of Atlanta, GA; aunt and uncle, William & Pamela Garrison; and cousins, Casey (Garrison) Parker and Kelly (Garrison) Betz and their families. Dan, known to family as "Danny", treasured friends and family. A memorial service will be held at 11:30 am, Oct. 12th at St. Clement's Episcopal Church, Tampa. Memorials may be given to The Children's Home, 10909 Memorial Hwy., Tampa, FL 33615. Condolences may be expressed online at MacDonald Funeral Home Tampa (813)933-4950