Sunday, December 6, 2015

Dear Grief

I knew my father was dying. Essentially, aren't we all? It's this chaotic mixture of living while dying. A seen march toward an unknown end date. He had only been sick for a short while, but what a sickness. Cancer and all the treatment options- doctors and hospital visits. And medicines. And bills. All the rearranging of life.

I guess you could say that I was looking at this thing a little one sided. I didn't even really consider how his death might affect me. While he chose to try and beat his cancer monster, all I could think of is how much better death seemed. Although he always said he'd never want to live that way, once diagnosed, it's what he chose. You think you know what you would do until you're in that situation. He chose to fight, and all I could really think these past months is, "Wouldn't Heaven just be so much better?!"

Yes, Heaven is so much better. Jesus is so much better. To be present with Him is our greatest joy - the thing that propels our very essence of life on earth. When you get the Gospel, it changes you. You live differently. It's not a living out of obligation but a life fueled by love. A longing for a life well lived. A journey worth going. A race worth winning.

So, why did he even chose to fight this cancer with such slim odds? That's a question I'll never know the answer to, but seeing him so ill, so overcome with disease... It really did make me look at grief one-sided. His side. He would be so much better off. In a better place. With no sickness. No cancer.

It's been a few weeks since Dad's final home going. We had his memorial service a week ago.

But here's what I forgot. Here's where I underestimated all this grief. This is the side I failed to see. My side.

Dear Grief,

I sincerely underestimated you.

I forgot about you when I grabbed my phone to text a picture of my daughters on the fishing pier to their PawPaw. Dad loved the gulf.

I didn't know you would show up while I walked the aisles of Buc-ee's and happened to see the orange slices. I didn't realize grief could transport me to my childhood and see Dad emptying a bag of his favorite candy into the candy jar. He loved orange slices.

When we traveled back home after your service, you left me feeling like life sucked out as we drove through west Texas and into New Mexico. Dad loved the west. I'm so glad he got to visit us here.

And Grief, the tears are easy to understand, but I failed to realize that you come through as anger and untimely, random acts of who-knows-what, too. I guess you're what made me clean my house the second I walked in the door after being away from home for nearly 3 weeks. You are so weird.

I didn't know you would show up at my daughter's piano recital as she played "Jessica's Theme" from Man from Snowy River. She had learned that song for Paw-Paw because it was one of his favorite movies. And she played it at Christmas...on a piano in front of a Christmas tree. (Dad loved Christmas so much that he actually left their house decorated year round for the past 3 years!) Grief, you threw a sucker punch there. My tears weren't understood by the crowd around me.

And that's another thing. Grief, you didn't warn me about crowds! For Pete's sake, I am a people person! Who knew all I would want to do is avoid crowds. And, plus it's Christmas! I am supposed to be attending parties and shopping for presents. But I can't fight you right now, Grief. So, I'll settle for warm blankets, a cup of coffee, a few holiday obligations, and maybe I'll somehow get some shopping done between your waves.

There are places I expected you to show up, Grief. Like when I find Dad's handwriting on the box of Christmas keepsakes he gave to me. There's the Christmas village that he took me to Lowe's to buy. We added new pieces each year. I knew you'd show up as we unboxed it yesterday. I expected you then.

I also knew you'd wash over me afresh when I read Dad's hand written notes to me in the book in which his poem was published. I fought you, Grief, but you were at least expected there.

I really have to give you credit for the anguish I feel about living so far away from my mom. I had no idea how hard it would be to drive away from her house last Monday. Although I know she'll be fine, she's dealing with you right now, too.

I understand that you're going to be with me for awhile. But Grief, I also know that you're going to gracefully bow out at some point soon. I get that you have a job you're helping do right now. That you are bringing about the mourning. This is good. It's part of it. And, truly, I thank God for you.

But.

JOY is coming. MORNING is coming. and PEACE... already here.

So, Dearest Grief, do your job because Jesus is doing his. He will allow you this and even use you for my good and His glory. But: Know this, you are a means to an end.
55 
"O death, where is your sting?
O death, where is your victory?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 
But thanks be to God,who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (ESV)


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fun


We watched her paddle out & wait for a wave worth riding. I know we were all thinking that these waves were likely not really worth riding, not worth such effort...too small to provide much excitement. Before we knew it, she was up, gliding over the glassy gulf waters. Before she knew it, the ride was over. 

Brandon made the obvious remark about all the effort for such a small reward. Then, it came. Clara, our 9 year old said, "Yeah, but I bet it sure was fun!" 

Hearing her words sent me rewinding my thoughts to several weeks ago when I had a conversation with my dad. I was telling him how well Libby & Clara were doing with their music lessons but how I was feeling a bit overwhelmed in my own study of learning to play the mandolin. He told me that I just need to have more fun with it and that one day I was going to look back at life and wish we would've just had more fun. 

That was the last time I got to talk to my dad with any detail. It's been a week since he went Home, and today, I find myself standing on a pier...hoping I can learn to have more fun... More fun. All the effort, all the fun. Life to its fullest...or rather- funnest. ;-)

Monday, July 27, 2015

#66celebration Party of THANKS!!

YOU. ALL. Just wow! Never in my wildest dreams did I think that something so amazing could come together is just a few days time. As of July 18th, we asked and you have KEPT ON delivering! So many of you have shared our posts, given money, cheered us on, and championed with us through prayer. Now, we hold the banner of thankfulness high - so high - and say THANK YOU!! And a big WOO HOO! You guys are all just so awesome!

Our week long #66celebration birthday campaign has continued well past our 7 days. It's been like the 7th day that just won't stop! As of today, 7/27, $4,699 has been given to #66celebration. Along with other donations given since 6/9/15, my dad and mom have been blessed with nearly $6,500 in donations. Though there are many medical bills, several of them have been paid off or paid down significantly. Most importantly, my dad has been able to purchase immediately needed medicines.

Your hugs, gifts, prayers, and overall concern for my dad continue to mean so much. Every day is truly a blessing. I know that my dad's spirits have been lifted in these recent days. God is so good to take our offerings and turn them into hope in a person's life. That is only something that He can do. You have helped pave the way for hope to come. Thank you!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

#66celebration


It's a 24/7 celebration!!
Update Day 1- 7/18/15 $876 given today! Thank you!
Update Day 2- 7/19/15 $1,190 given today! Simply amazing!!! Thank you!
Update Day 3- 7/20/15 $342 given today! Thank you!!
Update Day 4- 7/21/15 $507 given today! Thank you!!
Update Day 5- 7/22/15 $398 given today! Thank you!!
Update Day 6- 7/23/15 $400 given today!! Thank you!!
Update Day 7- 7/24/15 Finishing strong! Final updates will post in a few days to allow offline donations to roll in!! Thank you!!

Today is my dad's 66th birthday! We wish that we could be there to celebrate with him. Somehow, this birthday feels extra important. It's the kind of reality where you accept that your dad has lung cancer stage 3b. We tuck "special days" away thinking that this might be his last, and at the same time, we cling to the truth that every day is special and hope we have many more with him!

So, on this special day, I'm hoping for a miracle of sorts... and it involves you! Today, I'm asking for others to help say "Happy Birthday" by giving to my dad's CROWDRISE fund. I'm praying for a total of $6,600 to be given this week alone! Now, this takes math, and I'm gonna try my best: 100 people give $66, 10 people give $660, or everyone gives what they can, and I let God do the math. (That usually works out WAY better!)

People have been very generous to give money, time, prayer, food and friendship to my family. We are all so grateful and humbled by how God is taking care of my dad (and each of us)! While my dad does have great medical coverage through medicare, the copays and prescription costs have come tumbling in. My mom has been able to pay small amounts on the copays for hospital stays, and most recently, enough money was given in 1 week to cover 1 month's worth of medicine! Humbled, I tell ya!

 My dad and mom have lived a life of helping others. They work so hard and give so much! Most of you may not know that my dad receives very little compensation (by his choosing) so that the church he pastors can have more money for giving and growth. My mom is still a faithful employee and goes to work every day at the age of 70! They have never put their hope in the ways of the world and truly live depending on the Lord. I am so grateful for every penny given and every prayer prayed on my family's behalf.

If you can, please consider giving $66.00 today!  Give as you can. ANY amount is wonderful!

Click HERE to give!

THANK YOU!! One more thing, I'm so pleased you've stopped by our blog and taken time read these words. Would you please pass this post along: use #66celebration Post on Facebook, Tweet away.