“Daddy, will you please let me drive down the back roads?”
“Daddy, can I help you mow the yard?”
“Daddy, I promise I will be careful on the four wheeler! Please let me ride!"
These are just a few memories I vividly remember from my childhood. Tomorrow, February 28th, marks nineteen years that my daddy has been gone from this life. Nineteen years! That is really hard to even imagine. I was nineteen when my daddy passed. I have now spent as much time without him as I did with him.
I was a daddy's girl for sure! I would have much rather been outside helping him in the yard than inside cleaning the house! That still stands true today!
Gotta love the old Easter Sunday pictures!
I never dreamt I would have to start dealing with sickness of a parent at the age of fifteen, but that’s what life brought our family. My dad went in for a routine surgery to remove a cyst and he was never well again after that. After so many doctors were at a complete loss, he was finally diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis. It’s a rare disorder (even more rare back then, only 150 cases known when my dad was diagnosed) that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. It is one of a group of blood vessel disorders called vasculitis. Vanderbilt Medical Center actually used my dad in their research to learn more about this disorder.
The next four years was spent in and out of the hospital in Nashville. After about three and half years, I remember my parents sitting my brother and I down and telling us the medication that dad was taking had a side effect of Leukemia. Dad now had another battle to fight. My mom did the best she could to juggle a schedule of a teenager and stay by my dad’s side. My brother is three and a half years older. He turned down a college football scholarship to attend a college closer to home so he could help our mom.
Although life was not dealing us the cards we had planned, we did what we could to make the best out of a difficult situation. I spent the majority of my years playing basketball and softball. My dad was one of my biggest fans and also my toughest critic. He loved pushing me to be the best I could be. He would always let me know what I needed to improve on. The times when he was in the hospital and couldn’t make it to my games, we would record them and he would watch them in his hospital room. Even when he didn’t feel well, he would be sure I knew what I needed to work on! The memories are oh so sweet!
I remember the day he passed. It was only six months after the Leukemia diagnosis. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I received a call right after church that I needed to come to our local hospital quickly. They were losing dad! My mom crawled up in the hospital bed with him, and we all surrounded him. The hurt and the pain that I experienced that day was like no other feeling I have ever experienced. After they told us he was gone, I crawled onto the other bed in the room and just began weeping. At the young age of forty-nine, my dad went to meet Jesus and at forty-two, my mom became a widow. Our lives were turned upside down.
Why? Why did I have to lose my dad at the age of nineteen? Why did all of my friends still get to have theirs? So many questions filled my mind and my heart was full of anger. Life wasn’t fair!
No, life isn’t fair...I just learned it at a younger age than most people. But you know what? Life also is not about me. God has a greater plan and purpose for our lives. It’s so hard to see when you are walking through the valley. But when He gives you a glimpse of the beauty He creates through the trials, it’s a wonderful masterpiece. I am so thankful that I can look back and see how the Lord orchestrated every step to get me where I am today. Would I love to have my daddy back...more than you know, but I am thankful for where the Lord has me and what He taught me while in the valley.
I thought today I would share some things that the Lord has revealed to me over the past nineteen years:
1. Don’t Take Those You Love For Granted
I was fifteen when dad got sick. It was so much easier for me to go on with life and avoid the hospital than to face reality. Would I have handled it differently and spent more time at the hospital? Sure I would have looking back now! But at fifteen, and not very mature, it was hard to deal with.
Don’t take those you love for granted! Are you estranged from a parent? A sibling? A mate? Go make it right! Don’t wait for something to happen. You’ll regret not having that time back.
If you still have your parents that you can pick up the phone and call...DO IT! One day there won't be a voice on the other end.
You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.
And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
2. God Always Provides
No one can ever replace my daddy, but the Lord has been so gracious to give me a step-dad and a father-in-law that love me as their own. If you have lost someone in your life, pray and ask the Lord to provide someone to help fill that void.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
3. Marriage Vows: In Sickness and in Health
I watched as my mom cared for my dad. What a beautiful example she gave me of “in sickness and in health.” Even when she was tired and exhausted, she pressed on. I pray that if a time comes, and I have to be a caretaker for my husband, that I can be as committed to my vows as my mother was. For more on this topic, check out this post from Tammy.
He will sustain you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9
4. God’s Sovereignty
God knew long before I did that I would lose my dad, so He prepared each step after he was gone to line up with His plan for my life. Soon after my dad passed, my family’s restaurant won a cruise through one of their vendors. My mom asked if I wanted to go with her. As a junior in college, I met my future employer at dinner one night. He gave me his business card and told me to call him when I graduated. Sure enough I did and he was my first employer out of college. I could write another blog on how the Lord orchestrated each step and I am thankful He has made it so clear to me.
What a beautiful reminder even now that no matter the situation, the Lord is going before me and I need to trust and wait on Him!
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
5. The Hope of Heaven
Oh our God is so, so good! He is faithful to me now and His Word is true...I WILL see my daddy again one day! I always say that I know he will be waiting right behind Jesus to welcome me into Heaven! What a sweet reunion that will be!
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
What is it that life is throwing at you that just doesn’t seem fair? It may not be the death of someone, but we all walk through suffering of some sort. How has suffering shifted your focus towards the Lord? Maybe you are not there yet. Maybe you have lots of questions and your heart is full of anger right now. Can I encourage you to spend time with the Lord? Ask Him to teach you as you walk through the valley. You are never alone, He is with you every step of the way!
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!