Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Dad

Yesterday, I had the privilege of going to the Investiture Ceremony for Chesterfield County. My dad, Richard A. Cordle, was being sworn in for another four year term as Treasurer of Chesterfield County. It was a beautiful service. Before you even entered the building, the twinkling lights and greenery that masked the grounds were breathtaking. The luminaries that lit the path were festive, and the participants dressed in full costumes presenting the living history of Chesterfield County were intriguing (even for those of us who are not history buffs). As you entered the public meeting room you were greeted with warms smiles, fancy suits and a beautiful wreathe that encompassed the smell of the holidays. Smiling faces filled the room. Family and friends poured in the aisles. And honored guest took their places in the front.

Arlene McGuire, the former Treasure of Chesterfield County received a life time achievement award. As my dad proudly introduced this amazing woman, who has dedicated over 42 years of her life to the betterment of the county, and who has not only been my father's mentor, but one of his most dedicated and faithful friends, there was not a dry eye to be found. In his introduction he shared this quote: "Good parents give their children roots and wings" by Jonas Salk. Arlene has been just that for my dad, a parent, professional and personally. She has helped him grow deep roots, yet encouraged him to soar on his own wings. They have a very special bond, and she will forever hold dear place in his heart, and for that matter, mine too.

Last night I had the honor to stand beside my dad and hold the Bible upon which he took his oath. I was proud! A little boy who grew up in the sticks of Victoria, VA, who dreamed what seemed like the impossible dream. The path before him: refrigeration school. The path he chose: hard work, sweat and tears. He worked full time, took evening classes at VCU and managed to juggle a family simultaneously. It was not easy, and there were countless sacrifices, but in 1991 I was standing where I stood last night, by his side as he took his oath.

At the reception, I was greeted with folks eager to share praises about my dad. Even though they shared nothing that I didn't already know, I was more than happy to listen. One gentleman came up and said that of all the public officials, he has never heard one negative thing about my dad. My response was a joking invitation to dinner to hear my stories. I know my dad's not perfect, actually he will be the first one to admit he hasn't always done things right, but it does not change the fact that I could not be more proud to be his daughter, more proud to be his friend, or more proud to stand by his side.

I believe roots and wings come from sharing our lives. Arlene has shared and continues to share her wisdom, her successes, her failures, her disappointments, her joys, her dreams. She continues to cultivate roots and inspire flight among many people. She has taught my dad to do the same. Professionally, he has filled some big shoes, and he has done an outstanding job in doing so. I look at his staff and marvel at the passion, joy, and comradely that overflows from that office. And personally, he has had a hand in my growth. And with his encouragement I've been able to soar on my own wings.

I have been truly blessed with several folks who rightfully so could have a page written on them and their influence over my life. But today, this one is for my dad.

Thank you dad! Thank you for all the unseen tears, unheard prayers and unknown support. Your unwavering stance in my life has never gone unnoticed. You have taught me never to settle, to reach for the stars and have given me the confidence to make a difference in this world. You have provided countless memories filled with laughter. You encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone and to let loose. You have taught me to strive for excellence in all I do. You have proven that no matter what, you will always be there. You have given space when it has been needed, and have always come to find me if I even got lost. You've always had an opened door, a place at your table, and a hand to hold. You have always pointed me to look above, to keep my focus on Christ. You've taught me its okay to fall, and have helped me up several times. You have taught me to be independent and at time strong willed, yet to ask for help and lean on others when needed. Thank you for pouring into my life. I could not be more proud of you, your growth, and your accomplishments. I appreciate all you have done and for all the sacrifices you have made. I love you more than you know!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every 7 years something unique happens. Christmas Day falls on a Sunday

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Pictures of Christmas trees are posted on Facebook, mail boxes are getting filled with Christmas cards, the stores are packed with shoppers looking for the perfect gift, and at night the streets glow with twinkling lights. It's that time of year, along with the hustle and bustle, we remember the greatest gift ever given. The gift of life.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

What love! I am not sure we will ever comprehend this love that God has for us. God loves us. Because He loves, He gives.

He saw us . . . people. People who get lost.

We get lost because we stop looking up. We get lost because we start following the wrong people. We get lost because we make choices that we think will make us happy, but in reality digs the ditches we can't seem to get out of. We get lost because we go through rainy emotional traumas that hinder us from seeing the path He laid out and we end up on a dead end street. We get lost . . . and yet, He still loves. He saw us, He sees us, and yet He still desires to give us life.

God is life. He is the source and the sustainer of life. And He saw us, and continues to see that we need life, life that is impossible to have apart from Him.

Because He loves, He gives.

And He gave His life, His one and only son, so that we might live.

So, here we are. It's Christmas. The Season of giving. And I am humbly reminded this morning that because God gives because God loves, I am to give because I love.

Every 7 years something unique happens. Christmas day falls on a Sunday.

Here we are December 2011. Christmas day again, falls on a Sunday. Several churches will be closing their doors that morning, and to me that is a beautiful thing.

Very few churches have a balance between being an attractional church and a missional church. Unfortunately, I find most churches lean to the side of being an attractional church. It's not a bad thing, Christ calls us to "Come and see" and it should be an important element of the church. But I fear it can lead to spiritual obesity. It becomes comfortable for us to come and get fed, and to come back and get fed, and to come again and get fed and so forth. But every 7 years most churches, whether it is in their make-up or not have the opportunity to step up and be a missional church-- to "Go and Tell."

The church building doors will be closed for many this Christmas morning. And it's okay, because the building is just a tool that in the hands of God can do miraculous things. But it is the people who make up the church, and the church will NOT be sleeping or taking the day off this Christmas morning. Jesus didn't invite people to a church service but into a life of service. And this Christmas, we get the chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus outside the 4 walls. This Christmas we can leave the 99 who we would sit beside inside the building and go find the 1 who would not be there yet.

This Christmas I am challenged and share that challenge with you to be the church. To be the hands and feet of Christ.

There are countless things we can do . . . take balloons to the patients who can't leave the hospital for Christmas this year, make brownies and pass them out to the foreign students stuck on campus spending the holidays alone, when you get your $5 coffee at Starbucks on the way out of town to visit your family, leave a $20 tip because someone had to work Christmas day just to put food in their children's belly, grab the extra coat in the back of your closet and give it to the homeless man on the street corner, when you take back the tacky sweater that Aunt Ruth got you, purchase as many socks as you can verse another sweater you don't need and donate them to the sock drive, or go next door to the neighbor you know will be sitting alone Christmas day and bring them into your family's crazy . . . the options are endless.

And the awesome thing, when you give His love, you get His love in return.

So this Christmas let's Go and Tell, let's be missional, let's be the hands and feet, and let's love on the people of Powhatan, the people of Chesterfield, the people of Richmond like they have never been loved on before.