(January 2018) It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I feel led to share something with you. This will be a long post, but I know this is something God wants me to share. So, take a seat and let me tell you a story about God showing up and showing out.
If you know me at all, you’ve probably heard me talk about my dad. I’ve shared stories, prayer requests, heartache, and hopes with a lot of different people. Strangers even. Why? Because my dad weighed heavy on my heart every day for as long as I can remember. If you’ve never heard anything about him, let me give you a brief re-cap.
My mom and dad divorced when I was 5. The main reason (from what I know) for my parent’s divorce was my dad’s alcoholic lifestyle. When I was old enough to understand how bad it was, I started praying for him. I would go through seasons of praying fervently. And then I would go through seasons of giving up on him. Through tears and frustration, I would pray….and not pray. But one thing never changed. I wanted my dad to have the hope in Jesus Christ that I had. Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with many of the same things my dad did. Depression. Alcohol. Isolation. Loneliness. But the difference was–I had (and still have) a relationship with God that pulls me out of every pit.
Over the last several years, my dad’s struggle with alcohol and depression became much worse. He lost his job due to a disability, and he never found anything else. He had so much time on his hands but nothing to do with that time. *I can’t even type this without my heart breaking once again.* I can’t even explain the disconnect that occurred between my dad and the “outside world.” The only way I can explain it is….people could only get as close to him as he’d let them. And I think he wanted to let people in, but he just wasn’t sure how. Or if he was even worthy of love at all. I made it my purpose in life to make him feel loved, encouraged, and hopeful. Until I realized that I couldn’t be those things for him. I would share with him how badly I wanted him to get help, but he just refused to admit he needed it. *Writing this post in the past tense is a dose of reality that I still can’t get used to.*
So, here’s the part of the story that I feel led to share….
My dad passed away on December 12, 2017. My. Dad. Passed. Away. Gosh, those words are still hard for me to say/hear/type. His body just couldn’t take it anymore, and it slowly started shutting down. Since my dad never remarried, my sister and I were the next of kin and everything fell on us. The decision to take him off life support. The funeral arrangements. The funeral expenses. And also….legal action that needed to be taken. But before I go on any further, let me share with you how God showed up during the week of his death and funeral.
When he arrived by ambulance to the ER, I started praying that Dad would pull through. It wasn’t long until we realized that He wouldn’t be able to pull through. So, I started praying that he would just wake up one time (because he hadn’t at all since he arrived). My sister and I wanted to be able to tell him one last time that we loved him. Well, he did. He woke up about 12 hours after he was transferred to CCU. My sister and I were both there and we got to tell him how much we loved him. We asked him to squeeze our hands, and he did. He was only awake for about 45 seconds, but it was answer to prayer. God showed up. After that, I started praying that God would not let my dad die without giving him one more chance to accept him. I had heard of people having that “one on one time” with the Lord on their death bed, and I wanted that for my dad. Several hours later, before we took him off life support, the chaplain came in to pray with us. When he walked in and opened “a book” and started to read, I was a little frustrated. “This isn’t even going to be heartfelt,” I thought to myself. But here’s what he read:
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I myself will search for and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel and by the rivers and in all the places where people live. Yes, I will give them good pastureland on the high hills of Israel. There they will lie down in pleasant places and feed in the lush pastures of the hills. I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace. I WILL SEARCH FOR MY LOST ONES WHO STRAYED AWAY, AND I WILL BRING THEM SAFELY HOME AGAIN.” (Ezekiel 34:11-16)
God showed up. He gave me a peace that undeniably came from Him. Of all the scripture that chaplain could’ve read, he read scripture about God searching for his lost sheep and bringing them home. Now, after 30 years of praying for my dad, God answered my prayer.
My dad passed away at 11:20 that night. My sister came back to my house and as we were falling asleep, I prayed….”God, tomorrow is going to be a hard day. Please go before us and make every decision easy. Show us the way.”
The next day, we woke up and through the exhaustion of everything, we started making arrangements. And sure enough, everything just fell into place. The funeral home we chose was top notch. The funeral director that we worked with was as sweet as gold. And just a side note: My husband never left our side. Even at the hospital. He took off an entire week of work to be there and help us through each step. Let me back up a second. Because I have left out an IMPORTANT piece of information. There were two family members that made this whole process a living hell for me and my sister. They treated us so awful. Without giving specific details, we had to hire a lawyer to represent us and help us through this awful mess that they were throwing our way. I’ve heard that death can bring out the worst in people….and now I’ve seen it first hand.
So, anyway. Back to God showing up and showing out. Like I said, every decision really was so easy. Things fell into place, and I felt God’s presence every step of the way. On the day before the funeral my sister and I had a few errands left to run. Neither one of us had much strength left. We were exhausted-physically, mentally, and emotionally. Before we set out for the day I told her I wanted to run through Chick Fil A. We ordered our food and pulled up to the window to pay. The cashier says, “The car in front of y’all paid for your food.” My sister and I just lost it. Bawling. I then explained to the cashier what a blessing that was, because our dad just passed away and we were about to spend the day finalizing arrangements. She said, “I knew that was God. When the man told me that he wanted to pay for your food, I knew it was God.” And it was. He showed up. If you’ve never seen God in the small things, look harder. He’s there.
It’s so hard for me to write this story in the order things happened, because my mind is jumping back and forth. So, let me just list some other ways I’ve seen God show up:
*My dad’s brother passed away about 12 years ago. If my dad would’ve had one dying wish, it would’ve been to be buried right beside Uncle Darrell. So, we called the cemetery and asked if we could buy a plot there. I wasn’t really expecting there to be any available plots close to my uncle. It’s been 12 years, and that cemetery is small and packed. But wouldn’t you know, when we called they told us there was actually a plot right beside my uncle that was available. Right. Beside. Him. God showed up.
*My sister and I have been reconnected with a couple family members that we haven’t seen or talked to in years. There are family members that are stabbing us in the back, but there are also family members who have our back. They have encouraged and loved us through every decision we’ve made.
*People have helped us financially. Now, this is 100% a God thing. Like I said earlier, the funeral expenses have come out of our pocket. Unexpectedly. A week before Christmas. But people–friends, family, strangers–have given money to help. In fact, we’ve been able to pay off every penny of the funeral expense. Do you know what it feels like to have that type of burden lifted? God showed up.
Now, here we are at the part of the story that has not yet unfolded. This morning I’m waiting on a phone call from our lawyer to see what our next step is in settling my dad’s estate. He didn’t have a will, and honestly-he doesn’t have much. It’s not about money or “stuff.” It’s about being a voice for my dad. Standing up for him since he can’t stand up for himself. He will not be taken advantage of, and my sister and I are going to make sure of it.
3 months later…..
Since the last time I updated this post, the following things have occurred:
-We served “the two family members” papers to make sure we were taken seriously. They got the picture and agreed to let us get my dad’s truck and belongings. They were very civil during this process, and that is another answer to prayer.
-We ordered his headstone so that it will be installed before his birthday on May 25th. It was important to me and my sister that we have a place to visit on his birthday.
-The lawyer has been working to get his estate settled, and we hope to finalize everything by the middle of May.
2 months later….
Today is Father’s Day, and I’ve decided to post this blog that I’ve been working on for 6 months.
Today I can tell you that….my dad’s estate has been settled. That in itself is such a praise. The family members that I mentioned above have not been heard from since the day we got my dad’s belongings. Which, in all honesty, is such a sad thing. I’ve tried to reach out-in love-but have gotten no response. Why would you abandon your granddaughters in such a season? It’s beyond me. But I can look back with no regret. I did everything in a manner of honoring The Lord….and my dad.
I’m also happy to say that my dad’s headstone was installed the day before his birthday, so my sister and I had a place to visit on his birthday.
And that leads me to today. My first Father’s Day without my dad. I’ve had a lot on my mind today, and that’s how I want to wrap up this post.
Today isn’t hard because we would’ve normally spent the day with Dad. We probably wouldn’t have seen him at all. That’s just how he was. And that’s what makes today so hard. I prayed for years that things would change, and that Dad would change his lifestyle to make more room for me. But he never did. And even though God has given me a peace about it, it still hurts.
So, why do I share all this with you? The raw, real struggles and pain? Because I want my dad’s story to be used for His glory. Just know….you’re never too far gone. The Lord is waiting for you to come to Him. Just don’t wait til your death bed to make things right….there are people in your life that need your love today.
And also….God is faithful. His heart breaks when your heart breaks. He wants to show up and show out. Just sit back and watch Him!
a daughter of the King,