Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Today has been bittersweet. The circumstances that Dad is enduring break my heart and I wish that he could have felt like celebrating father's day. Because if anyone ever deserved a day to be celebrated, it is him.The day has been sweet because my mind has been filled with memories of good times with Dad and a profound appreciation for the man that he is.
He and Mom married very young and he probably didn't see himself down the road as the Father to eight children . But he learned. He really parented. Sure, he made mistakes. He's human. But his love never wavers. It doesn't matter what we do, say, or the way we act. We can always count on our Dad's love.  Sounds trite, perhaps, but he has always been there for us. He has always been present. He has that rare skill of listening--really listening--to what a person is saying. His advice is wise and his standard is the word of God. He has the ability to diffuse a situation and bring peace to conflict:; a quality that is much needed in a house full of kids =)
 Some people might think that with "so many" kids, one might be tempted to play favorites. Not so with Daddy. He has an acute understanding of what each one of his kids needs and makes each one of us feel special and appreciated. Daddy-daughter dates are a prime example of the kind of tender-hearted and thoughtful man he is.Some girls might mind if their Dad gives them a hug in "public" or puts his arm around them, but I never did. I was always proud to be seen with my Daddy.  Every birthday that i can remember, he has gotten each of his girls a bouquet of flowers and a special note just for her. Sometimes if a slow song would come on the radio he would just dance around the room with us. He made us feel like princesses.  He has special nicknames for each one of us, and though they are "silly" , they are just an example of my Dad's sense of humor. His dry sense of humor and good natured teasing keep us laughing. His character "voices" while reading aloud to us when we were little or his "horsing around" with his boys are treasured memories.
 He is fiercely protective of his kids (to which all of his daughters, in particular, can attest). His primary concern, however, has always been for our hearts. He wants us to fulfill our dreams and pursue our passions, yes, but he is more concerned with our fulfilling what our Creator designed us to accomplish. he recognized the true source of love and joy and leads us to our heavenly Father. Some of the most precious times I can remember were sitting together as a family reading the Bible and praying in the evenings. Often, deep discussions would result which kept us up long past our intended bedtime when we were little (sometimes intentional, sometimes not =)  There is not a more comforting sound to me than my Daddy's voice.
 His generous heart is evident in all that he does. His steady personality and constant love are a rock. I have never doubted his love and have always known that I could go to him with any particular matter and have him listen with understanding, love and wisdom with no ulterior motive of his own. That is a rare and precious quality in a world where everyone has an agenda.
 These are just a few of the things that I love about my Daddy. Though I know at times he feels as if he has accomplished very little of real importance, He has given his children a beautiful gift.  He has brought us up to desire to fulfill our individual purposes for God and to live solely for His glory. Has has encouraged our hearts and built us up. And He has pointed us to the love of our heavenly Father through his own unconditional, faithful love. 
  'thanks' doesn't even cut it, Daddy. I love you with all my heart. Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Holding On

“Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” – Isaiah 43:1-3

I'm clinging to this truth lately. Admittedly, my grip is weak some days. Most days. It's agonizing to watch the strong, comforting, tender, intelligent, hardworking man I am privileged to call my Daddy lie in a hospital bed, losing the battle with the cruel enemy we call cancer. It is unfair. It isn't right. He had so much to see and do. I wanted a lot more years with him. He didn't deserve this sudden blow. I can't imagine what he is feeling. He wants desperately to live, but it seems as if he realizes he doesn't have a lot of time left. All we can do is spend each day loving him, letting him know he is not alone through this. 

I'm not giving up hope for healing. I believe our God is Healer and Restorer and could change this with a single word. However, as Dad gets weaker, it seems as if God's answer this time might very well be a "no". I pray that Dad has some good weeks and months left with us. I pray that he can enjoy his family pain-free and alert. It appears as if the answer to that prayer might be a "no", as well. 

The heartache doesn't go away. Sometimes when recalling a memory, looking at a picture or imagining special days and occasions without Daddy,  the pain comes so suddenly it takes my breath. I know there will be more of those days. It is only by God's grace that I'm not a useless mess most of the time lately. He has consistently "shown up"  through this. He has given my amazing brother(who not only has handled the logistical matters, but has been there for us to fall apart on), the stamina and compassion to get through this and bring untold comfort to Daddy. He has been in the countless words, phone calls and hugs from people all around us--some, who barely know us. He promised to never leave us through the pain, and He hasn't. He won't.

But the pain is still pain. We still question why it has to be this way. This cancer, though it seems like the enemy, is only the symptom of the real issue. This world is marred by sin and the death--spiritual and physical. We know we have hope through the one who overcame sin and death once, for all. We know because Daddy put his trust in Christ long ago, that this is not the end for him. It is a joyful beginning. 

But oh, how hopeless it feels.