Friday, January 22, 2016

When Life Goes On

Tomorrow my dad would have been 60 years old. Since he's not here to celebrate with us anymore, my family joins together to honor him by feasting and memorializing our relationship with Dad. We do what he would have loved to have done: we make donuts and spend the evening together, talking and eating. We share the memories that anchor us together. 

 Wonderful times on the beach...Dad's favorite place to be.

Dad loved to just chill when he went on vacation, but he worked harder than anyone else I know. Nothing was left unattended because Dad made sure it was taken care of immediately. Despite his driven, type-A personality, he was an example of patience and graciousness and selflessness. 

Our firstborn came 10 days earlier than anticipated, and Dad being Dad came over to our house and did laundry, vacuumed, and cleaned up the kitchen before Aaron and I got home. He was not only present at Madeline's birth, he ministered in a way that would help me out. 

Because of her age, Maddie was the one that was able to connect with Dad the most. They'd gather eggs from the chickens and pick peaches off the trees at my parents' house. We'd take walks together around the subdivision and she'd always get excited when she saw Granddad's red truck, which meant he was close. She still talks about her granddad, eagerly awaiting the day she'll see him again.

 Dad holding Maddie...

 Holding Landon...

 Holding Corbin...

 Some of my best memories with Dad were all the camping trips we took as a family (with the Scotts and McAllisters). Dad was in his element, laughing and attending a campfire, and enjoying the outdoors.  We were able to take a "camping" cabin trip with the kids once before he departed. It was a special memory for all of us.

 For my 30th birthday, my parents surprised us all with an overnight stay at Elfindale Manor. My parents continually blessed us with their generosity. As an extravagant wedding gift, my dad built us our first home--all his labor and time a gift to us.

As nearly three years has passed since Dad has departed this world for the Eternal One, it's getting harder to remember certain things. I can't readily hear his laugh like I used to or feel his hug. But, I recall the way He made me feel (accepted, important, valuable). 

I remember how he used to say "Well...I think I'll hit it." (usually going to bed at 8:00 in the evening).

I remember how he'd slap his knee with laughter over a particular episode of Monk or a scene in Good Neighbor Sam.

I remember sitting in my parents' hottub with my siblings, watching Dad sneak chocolate chip cookies through the kitchen windows (he wasn't supposed to eat chocolate b/c it gave him a headache).

I remember taking walks with him at the track, Mom and I trying to keep up with him.

I remember how he'd check on me while I was in college, making sure my car ran properly and helping me if I was having trouble.

I remember the notes he'd write me from childhood all the way through college. 

I remember Dad reading Bible stories to us as kids. I remember Dad praying with me to receive Jesus when I was 7. I remember being baptized by my dad at Manchester Heights Baptist Church. I remember sitting on the front pew, taking "sermon notes" while my dad preached. 

I remember him walking me down the aisle and officiating my wedding, reminding me through all the chaos that I was in charge, "It's your wedding." When I started to feel nervous about details, he'd remind me that all that mattered was that Aaron and I were there. "As long as you two are there, I will make sure you get married." 

I remember how he'd love on Mom while she was cooking dinner, kissing her and dipping her at times. How he'd help with chores around the house--nothing was too "low" for him to do.

Dad never lorded over us, never demanded, never tried to control us or our lives. 

Unconsciously, he challenged me to be disciplined, to live a life with purpose and meaning. To serve, rather than be served, to find a mate who could be your best friend, to love the Lord without ceasing, to study His Word, to be there when you're needed. 

He may not celebrate birthdays anymore, but most definitely, Dad's life goes on. He is celebrating in Heaven, joyfully whole and complete in Him who redeems us from this broken world. And one day, we're going to have an incredible reunion! 

I Thessalonians 4

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[d] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

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