Friday, February 26, 2010

1 Year

So... it's finally here. The dreaded anniversary has arrived. One year ago today. In fact, in about twenty minutes it will be exactly one year ago that my dad went to be with the Lord. I remember that day vividly and incrementally. It feels like 5 different days all in one. The day started out just like any other. I said goodbye to Patrick, fed and dressed Paige and myself. Then I took a pregnancy test, 2 in fact, and found out that little Elijah was on his way.I met Patrick for lunch at Chipotle and shared the good news with him. We decided to wait until after Evelyn (my niece) was born to share the news with everyone else. She was due to arrive March 25th. I left lunch, stopped by the store to pick up one more test just to make sure, and came home to put Paige down for a nap. As she slept I got to work on decorations for a friend's baby shower that I was helping host in the coming weeks. Then, a little after 3 p.m., I got a call from Annette. She was frantic and hard to understand. She said that dad had been in an accident, Richie had called her, and she and my mom were on their way to Plano Presbyterian Hospital. I called Patrick and Alyssa and prayed and prayed as I got Paige up and dressed for what I thought might be a long night at the hospital. Patrick came and picked me up, and we embarked on the worst car ride of my life. I prayed and worshiped the Lord to Chris Tomlin as we hurried there. My brother called to see if I was on my way, but wouldn't give me details. He just told me to hurry. I felt that he wasn't telling me the hard truth. He called again, we were taking longer than expected. We had gone the wrong way and ended up driving into a shut down street. As we passed the accident, I saw the motorcycle from afar and knew that it was my dad's accident. I can still see that picture of the crash in my head. The motorcycle looked like the accident wasn't too bad, but I feared the worst. Richie was imploring us to get there, and I made him tell me that my dad was gone. He said he didn't want to tell me that if I was driving, but when I assured him that Patrick was behind the wheel he told me that dad was gone. I called Alyssa to tell her, but she already knew. Richie was afraid to tell me if I was driving and wanted to wait until I got there. We arrived at the ambulance bay a few moments later. It was not even 4 p.m. Rich met us outside. He came up and hugged me and cried and told me how sorry he was that he couldn't save him. I didn't know, but Richie was riding on a bike behind him and had seen the accident. He tried to save my dad, but couldn't. I was heartbroken for him. I looked up and saw people from the church waiting with my nephews, and people I didn't recognize. How did they get there before me? Who called them? It was wonderful that they were there, but I was so surprised to see them. I went in and saw my mom, sister and my dad. There he was. Laying there with a big black eye and a bruise on his head. He looked good. He looked like himself. I expected to walk in and see him and that he would look different, lifeless. But he looked like he was sleeping. He was so handsome. I would not let myself cry in front of my mom. I wanted to be strong for her and not add to her grief. And it just all felt so surreal. Like, how could this be happening? It didn't feel real at all. I kept expecting him to sit up and say it was all fine. I kept studying his hands. His little stubby fingers, hairy knuckles, nails bit down very short, always tan and calloused from hard work. I was afraid I forget what his beautiful hands looked like. I was afraid I would forget his laugh, or the sound of his voice, or the funny things he would say, or the expressions he made, or how he smelled. I was afraid I would lose the things you couldn't capture in a photograph. We stayed there for hours. Afraid to leave him. Wonderful pastors like John and Larry came in to love on us. My mom and family were amazing. We finally left and went to Annette's house. Aubrey and Aaron from the church had dropped off pizzas for the whole family, and the ladies from our Bible study came not long after with food for the morning. So many people blessed us with flowers, food, prayers and help in the following days. It still boggles my mind how much people did for us. We went to the airport to pick up Alyssa and drove past the spot it happened. To this day it's impossible for me to drive past it without thinking of my dad and the accident. But I can drive past it. That car, that place, that motorcycle, that accident didn't take my dad away. My heavenly Father called my daddy home, and not one minute early or late. We picked up a very pregnant Alyssa and Brian. We drove home in a very quiet car. We drove back over the spot. We stayed up altogether, but no one really spoke. We just kind of stared. Then, very late that night, we went to bed in little Joey's room, with Paige sleeping at our feet. All of us stayed at Annette's house for the next couple of days as family and friends came in from all over. It was an amazing time. God provided for my family in ways I never knew I would need Him to. He took care of food, bills, work - all kinds of things. He brought so much comfort. And the more I look back at that time, I see God's loving hand in all of it. He even tied up so many loose ends before my dad went home. The day he died, he had just finished the front porch he was putting in. I think now how painful it would have been for my mom to come home day after day to that unfinished. But mercifully, God allowed my dad to finish that beautiful front porch right in time. Also, about a week or so before the accident, Alyssa and Brian made an unplanned visit out here to see us. On a whim they drove out and spent a few days with my mom and dad and visiting with us all. God did not have to give us those last days together, but He graciously did. My dad had reinstated life insurance he had once let lapse, and a million other little things that revealed God's loving hand throughout that whole time and all the time since. My daddy told me everyday how much he loved me, that he was so proud of me, and that I was the prettiest girl. We didn't see each other without giving a kiss and a hug and lots of I love you's. I am so thankful that we left nothing unsaid, and that I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is rejoicing with the angels in heaven. My dad knew Jesus intimately here on earth, and now gets to rest in Presence all the time. I miss him, but I know that this is not the end. We do not grieve like those with no hope, because I know where my dad is and to whom he belongs. I know we will be together again. And I feel very blessed to have had such a wonderful father and friend for almost 27 years. Most people aren't that lucky. I also don't believe in coincidences. I feel that my dad got to see Elijah and Evelyn before all of us did. Elijah has my dad's blue eyes, and a lot of Adams features. I see so much of my dad in him, and I rejoice that my dad will never truly be gone from us. The life that he led and the faith that he had will bless all of us for generations to come. This anniversary marks a sad and beautiful day when my dad left us, and joined Jesus. I feel very blessed to have had him as my dad. I miss you daddy, and I can't wait to be together again!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Giveaway! Hooray!

I don't know about you, but I LOVE free stuff. Even better, I love when a great company hosts a free giveaway of a fantastic product. Last Wednesday I had the great honor of winning some green coffee beans with instructions for fresh roasting them over at my friend Katie Riddle's blog. So excited to try them! The difference in flavor and nutrition is supposed to be phenomenal. Now another giveaway is going on. As most of you know, Patrick and I have chosen to cloth diaper our little ones for a variety of reasons - it saves money, it keeps them from harmful chemicals found in disposables, it produces less waste, etc. Well... the company Envibum is hosting a giveaway over at . She is picking 3 winners, each of which will get their favorite diaper from Envibum. I like Envired - so cute! So go check it out, and hopefully we can both win :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

40 Days and 40 Nights

Today is Ash Wednesday, the very first day of the Lenten Season. I don't know about you, but I'm excited. 2009 was the most challenging year I have ever had to face. The enemy attacked us on all sides - physical, emotional, spiritual, financial - you name it, we struggled with it. But much like Joseph's brothers in Genesis, what the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. The hard things that could and should have ripped my marriage, family, sanity and relationship with the Lord apart did not have the affect that the devil intended. No, he meant to use them to destroy me. He wanted me to fight with my husband over money (or the lack thereof); to isolate from my family when we lost my dad; to become easily offended with people who were insensitive or far away; to not trust God with anything because of all the pain and the piles of problems that loomed before; to get lost in sadness, anger, grief and loneliness; and to allow physical problems to sideline me from life with the ones I loved. And while there were days when I succumbed to the pity party the devil was throwing in my honor and all of the tricks he was using to pull me out of the race, God used all of these things to make me stronger. How does He do it? How does He always take my weak, pathetic excuse for faith and build it into an amazing testimony of who He is? I really don't know how, but as I look back on this excruciating year I am humbled by the outpouring of love and grace that I see from Him. My marriage is stronger than it ever has been, and I enjoy my husband more every day. I see more and more what a strong, capable, considerate, loving, honest and godly man I married. He embodies the word integrity, and I am so proud of the man that he is. My children are truly a blessing from the Lord. Every time I look into Elijah's eyes, I see my dad and I am overwhelmed with gratitude because I know that although he is not here with me, he will never be gone. I and my children are still reaping the blessings of his faithful service to the Lord, and we will continue to do so. And I know that he is heaven with the Lord, and we will get to join him one day. Paige's smile has been a great comfort to me, Patrick and my mom. On the days it seemed our grief was at its worst, God used Paige's innocent and sweet smile to bring about so much comfort and peace. Even today, nearly a year later, her smile and gentle love reminds me of how God gently loved us during that difficult time. Our finances were a roller-coaster ride this year, and continue to be. Patrick went from bad job to bad job to finally finding a wonderful job that he loves. But despite the financial shortfall we encountered every single month, God has provided for our every need. We are current on every bill, and have never had to go without. God miraculously provided us with not only what we needed, but also what we wanted throughout the entire year. He showed Himself in a big way to us, using little miracles (is there such a thing?) here and there to provide for us. From $350 worth of diapers on our doorstep, to unexpected bonuses from jobs Patrick no longer held, to people buying my jam, gift certificates coming in the mail, boxes of clothes being sent at the perfect time (check out a few previous posts to know more) - God astounds me with His creativity in blessing us. I am humbled as I look back on 2009. And honestly, I think I am grateful for that awful year. Does that mean I'm happy my dad died, or that we struggled? - No, but I now see that I didn't go through those things alone. God gently lead me through them, and shielded me from so many things in the midst of it all. If I did not have Him, I would have had to go it alone, and I would be fighting against the devil by myself. I would have given up long ago, and not only would I not be receiving the peace and blessing I do now, I would be defeated, depressed and struggling all the more. As I look at the Lenten season and begin to fast from the things the Lord has called me away from, I am filled with anticipation. What now Lord? What things are You going to reveal to me now? How will show Yourself in these 40 days? How much better will everything be the closer I draw to You? I realize that so much was stripped away last year, but in a lot of ways that was a good thing. My false sense of security in this life or in people or in a job or in money or in my health were all ripped from my grasp and I was left with the truth - that God is my rock. He is the only thing that never changes. And with this truth came so much freedom. The stripping away was painful, but it left my heart and hands open to receive all that the Lord wants to give me. And He is the giver of every good and perfect gift, so I want whatever He has to give me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 has always been my life verse, and now I see even more His power being perfected in my weakness. I pray that this season of self-denial that will, I'm sure, be wrought with even more attacks from the enemy and leave me feeling weak, will be another opportunity for God to demonstrate His infinite power. I invite you to be weak with me, and watch God move, because I think last year - the ups and downs - are only a preview of what's to come.