Happy birthday, Dad!

What would I say if my dad were standing before me?

Many things have happened since you went to heaven nearly two years ago. The ups and downs. The good and bad and somewhere in between. I would have shared everything with you. You would have laughed and cried. You would have rejoiced. And other things would have saddened you, as they have us.

But I have seen God’s hand.

During the difficulties I have seen Him working His perfect plan for our lives. I have seen His faithfulness and steadfast love. Answers have come in the stillness of the night. Ways have been made when there was none. Truth has been our footing when all hope seemed lost.

God has seen us through it all.

That’s what you wanted for us, to see God through it. To see His goodness and grace. To not run from Him. To not be bitter.

Sometimes it’s hard, though. I have accused God of being unfair. Sometimes it feels as if I’m standing out in a downpour with no roof to run. I raise my skimpy umbrella only to see the panels have all been torn. I stand helpless, drenched and questioning God’s reasons.

But then my mind drifts back to the hospital when you asked us not blame God.

And the only cure for bitterness is thankfulness. To see the blessings even at their smallest.

I’m thankful for a God who gave His Son for me. A God who doesn’t give up on me. A God who still has a plan for me. A God who has prepared a place for me. A God who loves me. A God who may have taken you from our presence but placed you in His.

I’m thankful for what He’s given me. The grace for each moment. The air for each breath. A bed for every night. A kiss from my husband. A cry or giggle from each child. A hug from my mom. An engine that starts. A sunrise each morning. Food for my plate.

My dad—who had “everything taken from him”—wanted us not to be bitter at God.

And so, on your second heavenly birthday, I want you to know, I remember. I’m trying to keep my eyes on God no matter how difficult the journey. I’m trying to see the blessings, big or small. To not allow bitterness to steal my joy, cloud my judgment or discourage my hope.

Even today—on your birthday—as I have another test done to confirm what the doctors already know…Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes. Bless the Lord, O my soul. (Bless the Lord, O My Soul/10,000 Reasons)

Happy heavenly birthday, dad! I love you and I still miss you.

God’s Not Dead

A typical day in my house could certainly be described as challenging, but this week was incredibly rough. Seriously, someone must have snuck my boys crazy pills! Even their mealtimes included chucking food and shoving macaroni noodles up their nose. And snorting, because noodles can certainly be confused with teeny-tiny snorkels in each nostril!

Early this week, I had a doctor’s appointment. Because of the extra rough week, I was never so excited for an appointment. But instead of hearing what I expected, it bore concerns. It’s easy to allow humanness to cloud a perspective. It’s easy to jump into the future, with fear and apprehension, focusing on my past losses, and allow my future to grow grim.

To add to my burden, we are experiencing new financial pressures. And grief, once again, has placed its sorrowful cherry on the top of my gloomy little dessert. Continue reading “God’s Not Dead”

Fly, Little Bird

Nearly every day my son shares with me things from school which burdens a mother’s heart. The other day I was incredibly distraught over a specific incident, so wishing my dad was here. He would be the one I talked to about this. He had been there before – having raised five children, three of whom were boys – and I know would have given godly advice.

But he’s not here anymore. The overwhelming sadness escaped and rolled down my face.

I longed for the fatherly advice. Should I ask my oldest brother who is an experienced father of three boys? Should I ask my brother-in-law who also has three older boys? Continue reading “Fly, Little Bird”

Letting Go

Letting go of the life we always wanted. Letting go of the people we love. Letting go of expectations or desires. It’s one of the hardest things to go through.

My first child is going to kindergarten today.

This struggle is different than others. It’s not caused by anxiety of the unknown – as many struggles are, but rather the heartbreak of losing my child little-by-little. A part of my heart will be walking around at school.

Continue reading “Letting Go”

The Undefined Answer

The end of this past week was amazing, but full of emotions, worry and uncertainty.

Four days ago marked the first anniversary since my dad’s death. We spent the day with my mom and my sister and three nephews, who were visiting from out of the country. There was sad reminiscing of the events a year ago, but it was also filled with smiles and laughter and wonderful memories. God’s grace held us and grace carried us throughout the day.

Thank you for the outpouring of prayers and encouragement! It was certainly a clear demonstration of God’s love and grace.

I often look back wondering if my dad was aware he was nearing the end; if somehow he knew he’d soon be at heaven’s gate, soon to see Jesus face-to-face. A friend shared the words to this hymn:

But just think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven;
Of touching a hand and finding it God’s;
Of breathing new air and finding it celestial;
Of waking up in glory and finding it home! (Finally Home)

Can you imagine?! As your eyes open to glory, your mouth struggling to find words to describe the astounding beauty they behold and the only response you can muster is a silent awe. And then you glance up into the radiant, majestic face of your beloved Master as He says, “Welcome home, child.” Of course, I’m totally using human expressions, but it gives great comfort to know believers do have an incredibly amazing future ahead of us and to our loved ones who share our faith!

Three days ago, I had a hysteroscopy and biopsy of my uterus.  Or so I was scheduled. Continue reading “The Undefined Answer”

One Year

When you hear “one year anniversary” it typically signifies a positive accomplishment and therefore causes a celebratory feeling. But for some of us, it brings only heartache as we are forced to relive certain events we’d rather have never experienced. And it further confirms there was an end to a love we never wanted to be without.

Exactly one year ago today – April 20, 2016 – we watched my dad struggle to take his last breaths until there were no more. God called him home.

The movie reel in my head plays freshly as if it happened just yesterday: the messy emotions, the finality, the extreme sadness of his departure, the darkness of death, the disbelief and shock as if I were walking in a dream world, the immediate perspective change. I hesitated to leave the hospital, as if I was leaving him behind. It was very unsettling, as my heart and mind argued that he was truly gone. I remember pumping gas right after leaving the hospital and thinking how meaningless it felt in comparison to the death I just witnessed. I don’t have time for this, I thought. I remember feeling the urgency to just run, to escape, to hide. Somewhere, anywhere. Perhaps to a place no one knew me. I remember feeling marked, as if I carried a sign that read “I just lost my dad” around my neck. And yet still I wanted to tell someone, anyone who might care.

But still, amidst all these emotions, there was peace. I had no uncertainty my dad had stepped into the presence of Jesus. Heaven never felt more real. In fact, more than ever I wanted to be there too. (A week or so before his death, I told him I was a little jealous that he may see Jesus soon. He smiled and said, “I bet.”)

God’s grace, it never depleted. It picked me up and carried me over the next few days, weeks and months. It was also seen through the love of others who poured out their kindness and generosity on our family.

On March 22nd (just a few weeks ago) I wrote, “If you were to ask me what my current feelings are at one year, I would have to say: sadness (always!) with tiny splashes of anger and acceptance here and there. Within that array of emotions there is no longer room for shock.  I suppose my mind has finally accepted the reality of his death, but my heart isn’t quite sure.” However, I cannot say I’m in that place now. Tomorrow I’m having a biopsy of my uterus to see if it’s cancerous and this has caused a re-experiencing of sorts and a complete overload of emotions. To survive this overload, I’ve put myself into a protective state – not allowing myself to think or feel too deeply, at least until I find out the results in a few weeks. On the surface, I may appear fine, but I need to hold it together because if I expose any emotions then all of me will fall apart.

On January 13, 2016 – five weeks before my dad was taken to the emergency room – I wrote this in my journal: Continue reading “One Year”