Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ten Years...

Wow…a lot has changed in ten years.  On December 6, 2006, I awoke to a sunny day ready to take on my very first ever law school final exam…Contracts.  I walked out the door of my studio apartment at the beach and headed to school, not realizing that for the first time that year, I left my cell phone behind.   The exam went well and Scott and I decided that we would take a break from all things school to celebrate the first exam being behind us. We went to the driving range and  I think that might have been the first time we ever golfed together.

It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine.  I remember Scott giving me some tips and I was so excited to show my dad my new swing.  Later that day, Scott dropped me off at my apartment and I found my phone that was left behind.  27 new messages.  My stomach fell. I called my mom, and the first words she choked out were “Kel, your daddy died.” I fell to my knees. My dad had passed early that morning in his sleep and I was playing golf.  Which is actually one of the most beautiful aspects of that day.  Golf was one of his very favorite things about this world.  So While I was hitting balls and excited to show my dad, he was already watching. 

Scott came back quickly and we just walked the beach.  All of the Christmas lights were beaming on the boardwalk and I was sharing stories of my dad.  He let me talk and talk and talk.  And then he just let me be. That day seems like yesterday when I think about it…and then when I think about how much as happened in these last ten years…it seems like a lifetime ago.    

I go through my moments when I’m just really sad at the adult life that could have been with my dad.  Having my mom out here now and coming over for dinner on a whim, the long days on the boat, the family time at the beach and on the golf course…my dad would have been in HEAVEN. Well I guess, he is already there…so he’s not really missing anything.  And there’s not a day that he’s not on my mind.  It’s like he’s still been a part of everything these last ten years.  He so easily enters my mind with the most mundane thing, so many times a day.  It’s quite amazing really.  I used to be afraid things would dim, memories would fade and I would begin to forget.  But honestly, He’s more alive now than ever before.
And that gives me so much hope for my future. It gives me hope for my future in this life and hope for my eternal future.  Having my dad in heaven…next to Jesus…gives me the feeling like I have one foot there too.  The feeling that this hope is not so far off…is not so inconceivable (although the beauty of it is).  When I’m feeling stressed, bogged down by the things of this world and fearing all of the unknowns…I remember the promise of my Savior and I feel peace...that no matter WHAT happens here…there are permanent glorious days ahead. 

I think the greatest gift I could give to this world is walking  a life of faith, joy, peace and hope.  I want people to see and feel Jesus in me…and realize that His gift of eternal life in a place of eternal bliss…is for every person, no matter the walk of life, no matter the choices that were made or are made in the future, no matter the fear of the unknown and the questions and doubts.  His promise only requires you to believe it and confess it…as simple as that.  Jesus Is Lord. 

Romans 10:9: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Taste of Heaven

So...a lot of things have been going on lately.  In the past couple of months I have seen many people I care about in pain, whether it be over illness, the loss of a loved one or just the weariness that this life brings.  I remembered when my dad passed away four years ago.  I had a mix of emotions and for several months, I just felt numb.  However, there was one feeling during that time that continued to resonate within me.  Is my faith (and my dad's) in Jesus Christ for real?  It has to be...or I will never see my dad again.  I was at a point where I was crying out to God and my faith in Him was being tested like never before.  Because someone that I loved, that I couldn't see my life without, was no longer here with me. 

I can tell you today...that it is real.  That I have no doubt in the power and strength and truth of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  How do I know for sure? It's hard to explain, other than the peace and joy that I experienced and still do today.  It's a supernatural peace that only comes when my mind is set and speaks the name of Jesus.  I'm telling you, to just try it.  Just breathe His name "Jesus."  I can remember sitting in the front row of my dad's funeral and we were singing "It is well with my soul" and in that moment, I lifted my hand to God with my eyes closed and I saw it...I saw my Dad in heaven and He was laughing.  This has an even more significant meaning from years past...and well, maybe I'll share that story another time :).  In that moment...I knew that my Daddy was more than Ok...He was fantastic.  He was for the first time, well ever, WHOLE.  It gives me peace right now just thinking about it. 

I felt for the first time ever in those next couple of months, that I was connected to heaven in a way like never before.  Now that a person that I love so dearly, that I had shared my entire life with and all of my life experiences with was standing next to Jesus in Heaven...the place people only dream about...that now, a piece of my heart was there too.  It didn't seem so far off any more.  It was almost tangible to me and became so real.  Like, I had one foot in heaven and one on Earth.  It connected me to God even more and the realization that He has a place for me there...and it allowed me to remain connected to my dad.  Knowing, that I will see him again. 

I know this is kinda deep...I know it's hard to understand, and so I pray that today you will allow Jesus Christ to drench you in His love.  That you would allow Him to be your Savior...and that the hope of heaven would not seem so far away...so intangible for you.  That you would begin to understand how deep, how high, how wide, is His love for you.  That His salvation would seep into every crevice of your heart and that you would embrace Him.  And if you know Him already, that the joy of your salvation would be renewed.  That we together, can become excited again for His promises.  That we wouldn't walk through this life in fear, but that the fear of losing would be swallowed up in our Victory in Him.  May you feel loved today.

Wow...just a quick God thing to share...in this very moment I have Pandora on and right now it just began playing "Give Me Jesus".  That was the song that I requested to be played at my Dad's funeral.  And just last week we sang it in church.  Amazing.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My Daddy, the Prayer Warrior...

I was reminded recently about an amazing character trait that my dad embodied.  As I grew older and my dad's illness became more apparent, we began to cling as a family to the only One who gave us hope...Our Savior, Jesus Christ.  That was and still is the most amazing blessing that came out of my daddy's sickness...our strength that we found in the Lord.  We would always pray as a family, before we went to bed, before we left the house...I can remember not even being able to walk out our back door without my dad stopping me in his green recliner, grabbing my hand and saying a prayer for me.  That really struck me the other day as I was thinking about it. I never realized at the time how special that really was.  How amazing that was for my dad, to be taking a stand as a spiritual leader in our house.  And it wasn't like that from the start...just like all of us my dad had to grow into that man of God...through tragedy and triumph, my dad's walk with God continued to steadily grow. 

There was a point in my dad's life when he had been praying for someone or something ( I honestly can't remember what it was)...and my dad saw God answer his very prayer right before his eyes.  That changed my dad.  He saw a new purpose in life.  He had a child-like excitement, knowing that the God of this universe could and would answer his prayers.  I think my dad realized and understood from a very personal place that God heard his prayers.  That Jesus Christ listened to the cry of my dad's heart.  From that moment on, it wouldn't only be the prayers before we left the house or before we went to bed (although that was amazing)...my dad would hear of something, or see something in us...grab our hand, and pray to our Savior who would pour out hope and peace and invite us to bow at the foot of the cross. 

I can remember one night of praying that sincerely changed my heart...where God transformed me, and renewed my hope and faith in Him.  It was the summer of 2006, right before I left for law school.  I sat on the bed with my mom and my dad and just cried.  I was really lonely and yearned for a partner in life.  I had committed myself to God and was extremely blessed by His love relationship, but I really wanted someone in my life, who would become my husband.  I wanted to share journey of life with that person...I wanted to share my tragedies and triumphs with him.  At that moment, my mom and my dad and I all held hands...and my dad begin to pray...He begin to call to Jesus and ask that he would provide a partner...that he would provide a husband to share my life with...I couldn't believe it!! My dad, asking God to bring a mate for me??!!  That was a HUGE step for my dad.  He would have been happy if I stayed at home for the rest of my life.  And my dad knew the power of praying in God's will...He knew that God wouldn't just turn a deaf ear to the cries of our hearts.  And he still prayed that prayer.  He saw my pain, released his fear, and interceded on my behalf...Amazing. 

And less than two months later, I was introduced to the love of my life.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Four years ago today...

Four years ago today, was heart wrenching and undeniably beautiful.  It was the day that hundreds gathered to comfort us and honor an incredible man...of integrity, of wisdom, of strength...and of God. I flew home from Virginia Beach on December 7, 2006...sitting quietly in the plane seat...praying that no one would ask where I was going or what I was doing...So afraid I would break.  I sat by myself and pulled out my notebook and began writing  the following poem.  I hadn't written a poem in a long time, but as it flowed from the Lord, I knew my dad would love it.  I wanted to share it again, to reminisce about my faithful father.  I think he was really blessed (as were we) on that beautiful day, when so many cherished my dad's life right along with family.

My Daddy: What a Man :)
When you see the word gentle - don't be deceived
the tender compassion is not all to see
there is strength, tenacity and comfort therein
and a heart made of gold that never gives in

there is joy in the pain, tears in the fight
there is a strength to behold beyond power and might
this was displayed by a man here today
though his life has been lived, in our lives he will stay

Everyone says his pain is gone, he's whole nad new
and rightfully so, I know that is true
but my dad forgot his pain and condition of his life
the moment he looked into a loved one's eyes

at that moment, it was all about them
what they were doing, how they have been
all he would do was encourage us so
in the midst of his hurt, being with us made him glow

his gentleness, his eyes, his silent strength
held more hope and dignity than any could think
he was more than a husband, father, and friend
he was a brother to all, no matter what they did

he saw victory where we saw despair
he saw truth when we didn't care
at the end of our rope when we were ready to give in
he would calmly embrace the moment at hand

he was different than most; wise beyond his years
humbled and open, desperately yearning to stop our tears
though his would flow at the oddest of times
he began to not fear and not wipe his eyes

day by day though his strength would decrease
the growing man inside would never cease
to the end of this life his love never slowed
this was the man with the heart made of gold

as a husband i've noticed a commitment through time
though the rocky times came, the love never left his eyes
day after day he would say "Jane, you're beautiful,
why don't you believe me when i say i can think of nothing i would want more?"

and the dad in him was stronger than ever
even in his weakest moments - you could never say never
take for instance senior night at my track meet
dad "escaping" from the hospital, he never missed a beat

and with my brother yeah, well that was a different story
their relationship was truly meant for God's glory :)
through the remotes that were thrown and the stinky feet
their's was a relationship all fathers and sons envied

and for my dad as an uncle many tears will be cried
though he was weary, those kids made him smile
he cherished his family more than anyone i've ever known
through his words and encouragement seeds of life in us were sown

i've never entered a home and felt so much love
this man who faced death found his strength from above
always bringing life in perspective, breathing in God's creation
seeing the lord in His simplicity and living through His son

my dad's prayers were calm, yet mighty in heart
a faith that didn't waiver even when our hope fell apart
i am honored to be his daughter, blessed to carry his name
for my daddy showed me a real man, and I will forever be changed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Take Some Time to Play!

Anyone that knows me...knows that i LOVE to have fun!  I love to laugh and experience new things, no matter how dorky or ridiculous those things are.  Anyone that knows my dad would say the same thing.  When he was feeling the least bit up for it, he was always ready to have a good time.  For the first few years of my life, I grew up on a lake with a couple of boats that my dad always seemed to be fixing :).  But every weekend, we would have people over and get out there and just have fun.  We would enjoy the water, the beach, the company...  My dad loved to host people and to make them feel right at home...to treat them with anything and everything he could. 

As I grew older, we continued to have fun...just not on the boats :).  My dad would take every opportunity to FULLY enjoy whatever it was he was doing.  My family would have these crazy halloween parties...us kids weren't allowed at the parties past a certain time - we still aren't allowed to see the home videos!  I remember one party where my family went dressed as a biker family.  My dad loaded our two fat cat dirt bikes in the back of his truck and we drove to my grandma and grandpa's house.  We stopped at the end of the driveway, because we had to make a grand entrance...My dad unloaded the fat cats and my brother jumped on his, and my mom, dad and I all jumped on the bigger one (I was about 5)...we road up the driveway, my dad popped a wheely and we all flew off the back of the bike! Hilarious...not exactly, what he was going for :). 

I loved going to the Johnson County Fair with my dad.  Every year we would have dad/daughter night where the two of us would go and eat gobs of fair food and spend waaaayyyy too much money on fair games.  My dad didn't like the rides and we both LOVED the games, so that's all we would do.  I would find a prize that I wanted and he would probably spend $50.00 trying as hard as he could to win the most impossible game.  I would come with tons of stuffed animals, gold fish, anything and everything. 

When I was in high school, I LOVED to toilet paper houses.  It was harmless and so much fun.  I won't mention any names, but a certain dance team coach would take our entire team in her van and speed through the country roads, drop us off at whatever house we had decided on, and come back ten minutes later to admire our handiwork.  No matter how much I loved it, it would usually come back to bite me...because my house would later be targeted.  Well, I got word of some of my friends that were planning on hitting my house...I warned my parents, knowing that whatever happened, I would just have to clean it up.  My dad - because he loves to have fun...decided that he would take on an new evening job.  He would fill his cooler with Big Red, hide it between our Apple Trees that lined the driveway, and sat with our two dogs and his paintball gun...waiting....and waiting...and waiting.  He seriously sat out there for several nights.  I was getting to the point where I was hoping they would come already!  One night I was out with my girlfriends and we were toilet-papering our sheriff's sons' house...and all of the sudden I hear a truck come into the driveway...i dropped in a ditch, but it was too late.  "Kelly!!!!  Your Dad just shot my truck with a paintball gun!!!!" Hilarious.  My dad did it!!!  THe boys were not too happy...but we entered a truce and joined forces for the rest of the night!  My dad loves that story!  And my house rarely got toilet papered!

Those are just a few of the many memories I have of my dad and his incredibly fun outlook on life.  I always want to remember to make sure that I'm taking time to enjoy the wonderful things that I have.  I never want to forget that each day that goes by without laughter or a new adventure is a day that is lost...I want to remember my dad by carrying on his legacy of cherishing family...enjoying the little things...and turning dreary times into joyful times (and great memories)!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Biggest Cheerleader

I have two amazing parents that have supported me and cheered me on my entire life.  I would say that my mom is my biggest supporter, in that she sees no mountain too high or no dream too big for me and God.  She pushes me, by her example and by her encouragement to press forward...to go for it and not look back...and she does everything she can to help me.  She not only allows me, but exhorts me, to step out in faith and follow the path that God has laid out for me...no matter how crazy that path is :).

My dad was my biggest cheerleader.  I could have walked into a door and he would have been proud of me :).  He beamed over me...and it wasn't because I was a great daughter (i mean don't get me wrong ;), jk)it was because I was HIS daughter.  I knew that no matter what I did, my dad would have been proud of me.  He would have preferred that I stayed in Indiana with him, but he knew that I was going to be heading out soon...he didn't stop me- he didn't even try (even though I knew he wanted to)...he cheered me on.  He told me that he knew I could do anything.  That God always protected me.  He told me that I was special. 

I miss him so much...especially in these last four years, when my life has taken some radical turns in crazy directions...I wish that I could hear him cheer me on.  I wish I could hear him say that everything would be just fine. 

When I was thinking about how my dad was my biggest cheerleader, I thought about so many things...like the day he "escaped" from the hospital (left against all of the doctors and nurses wishes) just so he could drive down to my track meet on senior night and walk me out on the field.  Then, he went back to the hospital.  He said he couldn't miss it.  It was just a senior night!

And then I think about the year my dance team lost in the state championship (we were robbed) and he didn't allow it to go down quietly.  My quiet, kind-hearted, gentle dad...threw his water bottle in the Judges' direction and said some not so pretty things.  When I heard the story I couldn't believe it.  My dad, who would have killed for me to be a basketball player, showed up to every dance competition, attended every recital since I was five years old...and he became completely invested in the entire process...because His daughter loved it.

And then I think about the day he dropped me off at the Honor Academy in Texas.  I had turned 18 one month prior and as hard as it was for him to see me leave for the year...he stood by my side the entire time.  I didn't know it until later, but my mom said that my dad wouldn't leave the area for hours.  As much as it pained him to allow me to grow...he did. He cheered me on the whole time.

I am so blessed to have the parents that I have.  And though, it is so hard to know that I won't see my dad until I go meet Jesus myself...I realize that I still have the biggest cheerleader ever (well my mom of course, but I wasn't going in that direction :))...my God.  My heavenly Father.  I realize that no matter what I do...nothing can take his love away from me.  Nothing can diminish it.  He loves me...because I'm His.  He created me.  He cherishes me...no matter the mistakes I make...my God upholds me, forgives me and drenches me in his grace.  Because of the sacrifice of Christ, nothing can separate me from the love of my God ... and the support of my biggest cheerleader.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A New Kind of Relationship

I remember feeling completely numb in the months following my dad's death.  I remember going back to Virginia Beach and turning all of the distractions off for a time and just trying to focus on God...trying to heal...trying to get answers...trying to work through the pain of losing someone I loved...of losing my biggest cheerleader. 

I remember not wanting to even open my Bible...of being too weak to struggle through it.  I felt so guilty and yet I was still so numb.  It was then that God revealed to me the beauty of my Dad's relationship with Him.  Of the way that my dad grew closer to Jesus every single day in the simplest and most beautiful way.  He didn't open his Bible as much as I would try to encourage him too, but he spent the entire day with Jesus. 

If he was well enough to mow the greens at the golf course he would carefully and diligently make Tameka Woods the prettiest golf course in Johnson County.  And all the while he would speak to Jesus.  He would seek God in His creation...and not only seek Him, but find Him.  Just as God promises.  My dad was filled with a peace that I still can't grasp.  He embraced the trials of his life with dignity and quiet strength...and He now walks with God. 

When he was too ill to mow the greens and he was stuck in his bed, he would stare at a picture of Jesus that hung over the mantel and would speak with Him every day.  He would enjoy the birds that fed contantly from the bird feeders my mom had placed outside of their bedroom windows...and He would be at peace. 

My dad was not perfect by any means...but after looking back at his relationship with God I found myself full of hope during that seemingly hopeless time.  God was showing me a whole new way to relate to Him.  A new way of experiencing Him...of getting to know new facets of His glory.  In my weakest moments, God was showing me His strength...the same strength that he poured into my dad during his weakest times. 

I am so thankful that my dad embraced the strength of God.  I am so thankful that he embraced the peace of God.  And I am so thankful to serve a God who embraced my dad and embraces me...just as I am...when I'm at my weakest, making me my strongest.  It's a tough journey, but it sure is leading us to a beautiful home.