There is always more on my heart than words can say, but I find journaling my thoughts or prayers a great exercise & makes a record to view of memories & our history - I invite you to join me if you can relate to authentic life.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Always Have a Father

My cycle of thoughts this weekend and the processing of

I can't think of anyone who deserves to go Home more than my dad. I want that for him, because Christ has truly been his refuge, his strength, his best Friend, his Everything. The reunion awaiting him will be spectacular.
Beyond that, he will be with 5 of his sons again. He will see his daughter-in-law, his grandkids, his parents and siblings/siblings -in-law. He loved them all so deeply.
He has known much grief. He has faced much hardship. He has been betrayed. Through it all, he has clung with a tenacity that I marvel at to his belief in the goodness and perfectness of God. What a glorious day it will be for him to be with his Saviour!!

But, now that hospice believes he is in his last weeks, I've switched from wanting him to be free and I'm thinking, 'Whoa, hold on! Not so fast! I'm not ready to say good-bye!......I CAN'T DO THIS!!!!.'  
I'm SO grateful for having the best dad I can imagine and for all the years he poured into my life. I just selfishly want to hang on for more. I feel too young to be without a dad.
My heart starts racing throughout the day, breathing becomes quick and shallow. I'm trying to focus on finishing picture stuff, traveling, making work and school arrangements, and finding clothes for the future memorial that sounds like it's getting close. It feels like I've gone through these preparations a thousand times. It's been enough that it brings me anxiety, even though most people don't see that I get shaky and cold and nervous. This time will be a little different than the others - not better or worse - but different, because it's the first time I'll lose a father. My mind keeps racing with questions and even some fear:

Who's going to be there to pray for me when I so desperately need it? There's been so many times I've called him over the years.

Who's going to answer my questions about faith, the church, scripture and trials with the depth of experience and commitment my dad had?

Who's going to hug me as much as he did?

Who's going to tell me how nice I look? He always told me I looked 'sharp' and pretty and I think he and I talked about clothes more than my mom and I. He loved showing off any new tie or shirt he got.

Who's going to like my style as much as he and ask me to make things for him?

Who's going to bring me all kinds of garage sale stuff that I may or may not need?

Who's going to come help me with projects?

Who's going to remind me how much Nathan looks like Steve? He often said recently how much Nate reminded him of Steve at the same age.

Who's going to bring me treats when I don't feel good or run through Wendy's for a frosty with me just because we are out doing errands - of course, I had to promise not to tell mom he was cheating on his diet.

Who's going to stop by just because they want to have a few minutes to talk and see the kids?

Who's going to bring me all kinds of printed information that he thought I needed to know?

Who's going to pray daily for me (and the rest of our family) with the intensity and fervor that he did?

I've had to get used to some of these things being over already, due to living in separate states and his dementia of late, but saying goodbye for good is so......real.
I have these days where I'm afraid to not have my dad to turn to and I want to soak up more of his wisdom.

But, I DO have an answer to my questions.

Who's going to fill in for my dad? Well, no one can take his place, of course. And, while my mom actually did many of these things with my dad (and she won't stop), I know she and my dad would say what they've always said, either in words or actions -  God is your answer for everything.

Even though I am going to miss being my dad's only daughter and the special bond we had, I'm going to honor him by realizing I'm still going to be a daughter that will be loved and protected by a Father - I'm still a daughter of the King!!   God will never leave me without wisdom, comfort, love or any good thing I ask for. There is nothing my dad would ever want more than to know that I rely on God before any person, even himself. My dad has taught me a lot about this already and I will remember what he's shared with me, learn from his example and honor his legacy by relying on my Heavenly Father in the places I used to rely on my dad for.

I know that I will still feel hurt, and sometimes anxiety during this journey of losing my dad, but through it all, I'm not alone. I will try not to forget it in the stressed moments, even though satan will want me to feel that way at times. I will just have to focus on my dad being in Heaven - that's the best grief care I know. It's much harder to think of my loss when I know my loved ones are happy, free from pain and with their Lord!

Psalm 121:1 -2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.”

Isaiah 41:10“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)

Deuteronomy 31:6“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (ESV)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

LIfe Unexpected

Life Unexpected. I decided that is going to be the name of my book.

Much of life is a surprise, isn't it? I can't even begin to list the expectations I had for life that did not work out as I thought. Sometimes that was a wonderful blessing. Other times that meant there were circumstances I didn't think I could bear.

In either case, the name of the Lord deserves praise. ( Ps.113:3)

Praising God has never been a problem when He has blessed me with undeserved gifts! And, I can say it's always been my goal when He's taken away things I treasure or believe I need. I have not always reached that goal, however. I wish I could say that I've chosen praise all the times I plead for answers instead, but I'm learning to do that more and more.

As I look ahead at my life, I'm wondering what expectations I'm still carrying. Do I expect to live a long life? Do I expect my kids or husband to live long lives? Do I expect we will never be jobless again? Or, to be financially secure? To always have a home? To keep all my limbs? To never be betrayed by people I trust? To always have freedom in our country? To have all my kids be college graduates? To avoid strife in my family?  I actually do expect these things and more - to a degree anyway. Clearly, I am still learning how to let go of my expectations.

I am not suggesting for a moment that creating expectations to live by is wrong. I expect my kids to live by the rules of our home, for example. What I have learned, though, is that people tend to expect things and then feel wronged when those things aren't fulfilled. At least, I sure do. When that happens, we forget to be thankful for all God has provided us. We think we deserve things that were never really promised to us. We forget our ultimate mission because we put our focus on ourselves.

Just one example I have of this is that I always believed I would have my family around. I knew there was a chance someone could die early, of course. After all, my first brother died before I was born and the other when I was 5, so I wasn't na├»ve to the possibility. It just never occurred to me that by the age of 43, I would only have one brother alive out of 6 and that my dad would be in the final stages of Alzheimer's disease.  I assumed they would always be around until we were all older, because that is generally the rule.
I don't think I should have contemplated who may be dying when I was younger, but I DO know that when they did die, I felt robbed.  I was shortchanged.  I deserved to have them around just like all my friends who have their siblings and get to continue to share holidays and special events with them, didn't I?

BUT, then I realized......I was never shortchanged at all. The truth was that I had been given the blessing of a large family.  I had been unaware that it would change so drastically, but it was still a gift - not a right that was taken from me.   I'm not exactly speaking of the concept of just being grateful for what we had even though lives were cut short, but the shift in vision that allows me to see that we didn't lose out at all. This was God's story for our lives and it was different than I thought, but we were incredibly blessed to have what we had. I much prefer having all those brothers for part of my life than for none of it.  In fact, for all I know, God could have extended their time with us because of our prayers.
That doesn't mean that I miss my loved ones any less. My heart hurts when I'm wanting them here, I grieve when it's obvious they are missing, especially when a major life event is happening. I don't say that so anyone will feel sorry for me, just to acknowledge that grief is part of life and I'm not denying that it's there.

God cleared what was a distorted view on my part and gave me new perspective. Maybe this is more of an internal thing on  my part, and maybe it's not a need most people face --  that of releasing their expectations. But, I did need it. I remember pleading with God to help me be happy for those around me that still had their whole families intact (to even be happy for those that weren't building relationships within their families & didn't seem to realize the blessing they could have), because I would feel jealous and like my close family deserved to be together more than those kinds of families. God answered my prayer with the realizations I've talked about here and has buried the temptation to become bitter under the ocean floor.

Surrendering my rights and expectations of everything in my life will be a battle I will fight until the day I die, I'm sure, but my daily prayer to God is this:  "I don't know what You are going to give or take away today (and it scares me a little). It may seem You are taking away things that I should have been able to count on (can I please count on keeping Tim for a regular life span since he's the last brother left? and for that matter, everyone else in the family?) ....but, You had the right to give me the life You did and I am surrendering my right to plan it, envision the future and think I deserve more. I just thank You for everything You have given me and will treasure all the blessings until my time with them is up."    

"Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him..." Job 13:15