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An Anniversary

Where does the time go? How can it already be a year since Dad died? Seriously. It still feels like just yesterday – on my way to our weekly staff meeting when the phone rang and it’s Nannette on the line. The terror in her voice. I knew. Before she got 5 words out, I knew. I couldn’t think or breathe, much less drive. I nearly crashed my Tahoe. Then, it all sorta seemed surreal. Driving back to work. Sitting in the church parking lot, trying to get it together. Walking in and telling everyone that “I’m pretty sure my Dad just died”.

Then, calling Lisa. Waiting for the kids to get home from school to break the news to them. All the tears, them wailing uncontrollably. Me too. Part of me died that day. I’m sure of it. I hate it, but I know it’s true. I’ve lost a little of the sparkle in my eye and I feel like I aged 10 years in an instance.

I’m adjusting, I guess…whatever that means. But Cowboys games don’t mean the same thing anymore. Neither does golfing, Spring Creek BBQ, or hearing my cell phone ring. Dad was always good for at least 5-10 calls a week and there was always a good chance it was him every time it rang. Man, I miss hearing his voice. More than just his voice, I miss what his voice would say — Like, “I’m so proud of you” or “I really miss you” or “How’ve you been doing with your headaches? How’s your back? You really should call that doctor and let him know….”. One thing was certain, Dad cared. It’s not that other people DON’T care, but it’s just different. He cared like a Dad does for his son. And I was his only son. He was my constant. He was my sounding board. He was my confidant. He isn’t here anymore.

A couple of days ago, my sweet daughter called me at work to tell me she had a dream about Grandaddy, and that she talked to him in Heaven. She had quite the detailed account of their “conversation” and assured me that he wanted me to know that he loves me and that he’s doing good in Heaven. She told him that she wished Grandmommy would smile more and he told her she would very soon. Well, she’s finally getting that bad knee replaced next week, so hopefully she will be soon enough! As hard as his passing has been for me, I know it’s exponentially harder for Mom. Together for 48+ years and gone all of a sudden. I can’t imagine. But Mom is so strong, it’s amazing. God is giving her the strength she needs every day. Just wish I could be there for her more. Especially tomorrow.

A year. An anniversary. Anniversaries are for celebrating, right?

I don’t feel like celebrating. But I will. I will celebrate the fact that this hurts so much. Because the impact Dad had on my life- our close relationship – is what makes this hurt so much; what makes me miss him like crazy. Most people don’t ever know that kind of closeness we shared, and for that I am truly grateful. Truly.

I hope to one day be missed by my wife and children the way he has been over this past year and will continue to be.

Love you, Dad. I know you’re in the BEST place, not just a “better” place. We miss you. I miss you. Feel free to call or write or pop up in a dream whenever it’s convenient!

Going Home

Home is where the heart is.  Well, then I’m not sure where “home” is today.

I’m sitting in the airport in Philadelphia, waiting to board the 2nd leg of my trip to Texas, to spend some time with Mom and see some old friends.  I haven’t been back to Texas since January. This years seems to have been so long, and at the same time it seems like yesterday that I got the call that Dad wasn’t breathing and that the paramedics were at their house. Will it ever really be “real” to me?

As I was packing early this morning, I stepped outside and felt a chill in the air.  It’s typically warmer in Texas this time of year, so I hadn’t packed a jacket.  Lisa asked me if I needed a coat, and I replied without hesitation, “I’ll just borrow one from Dad if I need one”.  Wow.  Those words came out so easily.  Then I could actually sense his smell when he would give me a big hug.  Totally weird, sad, cool…all at the same time.  Still missing you, Rupert.  I know we all are.  I am also looking forward to seeing Mom, giving her a big hug and just hanging out together.  Who knows, we might go visit a couple of Pawn Shops in your memory, Dad…haha.

So, I’m heading “home”, even though I’ve been gone to Virginia for now over 3 years.  In truth, no place here on Earth is my home it seems.  And I’m okay with that. Gotta quit typing and board the plane…

I was told a couple of weeks ago a theory about time.  In summary, it goes something like this: Ask anyone who is over 40 if they think time goes by faster the older you get, and they’ll say “yes”.  In this theory, time does actually go faster the older you get. Since God operates outside of time, the older we all get, the closer we are to the end of our finite earthly existence and time somehow goes faster for us – days are actually shorter.

Whether this is true or not, I have to admit I think time does seem to be going by at a blistering pace for me personally.  My three sweet babies are no longer babies.  Parker’s 5’3″ at 11 yrs. old with Chloe and Marshall not far behind.  Weeks seem to pass by like days and years like months.  It’s really a bit surreal if you stop and think about it, which I don’t do often for this very reason.

What I’m pondering today is not “Where does the time go?” but instead, “Am I making the most of the time I’ve been given?” The answer is a resounding “NO!” I have been realizing lately my difficulties in being efficient with my time lately.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting things done, but not as quickly as is usual for me.  It may have something to do with my chronic back pain which leaves me unable to sit for long periods of time, but I think there’s more to it than just that. I believe my “plate” is so full that it almost paralyzes me at times. Between work, family, school, coaching baseball, writing and producing music on the side…there’s not much margin left.  As I’m getting older, I’m also not quite as deft at changing gears as I used to be.  Going from task to task or role to role is becoming a bit harder to do, which means lost minutes or even hours at times. I’m curious if any of you agree with me or have similar experiences you’d like to share.

It also doesn’t help that Lisa and I have been spending a TON of time looking at potential houses to buy, if we can find any that we can afford.  That’s been quite stressful and a HUGE time zapper.  We’re praying that God will make our path clear and either open or slam shut the door to home ownership for us.

Well…it’s back to my homework (at 12:57am) ouch!

 

Well, I should probably apologize for not keeping up with my posts the last several weeks. In all honesty, I have written a few, but didn’t end up posting them for a variety of reasons.

So, when I should be using these last few hours before tomorrow’s marathon of multiple Easter services and all that entails, or possibly working on that homework assignment that was due Thursday (oops), or resting/sleeping, I feel the need to write here, so I guess I should:

Easter…….Tomorrow is easter (technically today) and I am so excited for it to come.  Easter is such a powerful day in the life of all Believers in Christ, or at least it should be.  To consider the freedom and life we can enjoy because of what Jesus did on the cross, taking our sin and paying the price for them, is nothing short of amazing.  I can’t find the right word. Amazing falls so short, doesn’t it?  Thank you, God for your gracious love and for sending Jesus. Compared to that, I should never EVER complain about being tired or “having to do 4, 5, 6 or how ever many services” on Easter.  We should do services all day long and try and get everyone we know to come and hear about the life altering news of Jesus.

Heaven this is going to be the first Easter without dad around.  It won’t feel right either.  Whether or not we were geographically together, we always spent time talking, laughing and connecting on Easter.  There were usually multiple phone calls toward the end of the Master’s golf tournament too.  If we were together, there would be lots of food, hugs, jokes and more.  This Easter, I am so blessed to have mom up for a visit.  It has been absolutely great having her here with us, especially for Easter. But it is bittersweet.  I know she’s really missing dad too and my heart breaks for her and with her.  But this is where Heaven comes in. In case you didn’t know, “Heaven is for Real”. Just ask that little boy whose book has been a best seller for umpteen weeks.  Seriously, though, I DO believe in Heaven for those who follow Christ with their lives and have accepted His gift of salvation.  Dad’s on that list. So really, HE is the lucky one this Easter.  He is with his LORD.  I am grateful for that, and happy for him too.  But the selfish part of me would most assuredly rather him be here.

Health…The past couple of months has been such a new journey for me that I cannot put into words. Losing dad still doesn’t seem real, even though it’s been 2 1/2 months now.  I have these amazing dreams of being with him, doing random things. Not memories, but like adventures or ordinary day-to-day stuff that we never got to do.  It seems weird, but I really enjoy them.  I hate when something wakes me up during one, because I have yet to be able to re-enter the dream when this occurs. Of course, when I’m awake, the reality that dad isn’t here has been all too evident.  

This 42 year old back of mine has been quite stubborn in healing from an injury suffered late last August or early September.  9 weeks of physical therapy, 2 rounds of oral steroids, an MRI, 5 Dr. visits and 3 epidurals later and I’m no better off than I was when it all began.  The result has been the onset of a mild depression that I sense from time to time.  Sort of like when I have a killer migraine on my day off when I had plans to do something fun with the family but instead stay in bed while my children refresh my ice packs and give me hugs to “feel better”. At least the migraines only last a day or two. The back thing is like a wart on the wrong part of your foot that never goes away and reminds you of its presence with every step you take.  

I have realized that it only hurts when I sit, stand, bend over, walk, or lie down.  I don’t do much running so I can’t say if it hurts then.  Getting old is no fun, huh? I tell you all this to say that I know my dad would have been a good listening ear for me in the midst of all this, but he’s not quite available.  I do have many people praying for me and for my back to heal, which I appreciate tremendously. I have given it over to God and am okay if I need surgery or have to just adjust my life to this pain. If nothing less, it is a constant and not-so-subtle reminder of my own human frailty and desperate dependence on God.

House…. Please be in prayer for Lisa and me as we try to discern what to do regarding our housing situation.  Our lease is up in 2 months and we don’t have a real plan of action yet.  We are looking online at houses but not much more.  We’ve been through 2 packages of smelling salts from all the times we’ve both passed out when we find out the prices of homes in northern Virginia.  Ridiculous!!!!

But, if we are supposed to be here long-term, we’d rather buy and at least feel like we’re putting down roots.  We want to feel settled and this would go a long way to helping us feel that way, but the outrageous cost is giving us second thoughts.  We would prefer to stay near church but simply cannot afford to.  Please pray for God to make His will clear and lay a path before us that we can see and follow with confidence.

 

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!!! He is Risen! He is Risen indeed.

Manna

I have often wondered what manna as found in the wilderness by the Israelites must have been like. How weird must it have been the morning when the first person woke up to see this answered prayer of provision from God. What relief must have followed this discovery.

I realize that we live in a different day and age today, but I am experiencing the same sort of blessing in my life these days. More specifically, today is a prime example. It was my first Sunday back leading the congregation of BCC in worship since Dad died. I had been struggling all week with the prospects of having to stand before everyone and lead them to a place I wasn’t sure I was capable of going. However, God showed up in a real and powerful way throughout the rehearsals and services and YET AGAIN reminded me that He is my sustainer and true provider.

What a relief.

I don’t have to pretend to be “strong enough” or know exactly what to say. God is strong in my weakness. He has been steady though my heart is heavy and my emotions are like a roller coaster. I’ve felt shattered and yet this morning I could really worship God for literally holding me together.

…still missing Dad, don’t get me wrong. Really missing him. We all are. I reckon that won’t be changing anytime soon. But what is new is a stronger-than-ever confidence that God is truly up to something good: really good. Better than good. For now, I have no idea what that will look like or play out in my life. But I am quite grateful for the “manna” he is giving me each day. It may come from a new passage of scripture He shows me, or through encouragement from fellow believers, or in the way I know He is working out all the details of my day-to-day life in such a way that I am able to move forward, albeit still at a slow and steady pace.

Thank you, God. You are so good to me.

Well…it’s been just over 2 weeks since Dad passed. It’s still not real to me and I’m wondering when or if it ever will be. Tonight is a big night in the process of me returning to life “as usual”. We’re rehearsing for Sunday morning in just a few minutes. There will be about 20-25 people at rehearsal, all eager to praise God together. Don’t get me wrong, I am totally for praising God and I know He is worthy of my praise, but in all honesty, it’s hard to get excited about much of anything these days.

Also, I don’t want to make it weird or awkward for anyone, and I’m sure they’re all going to want to tell me how sorry they are that Dad died, which is apt to make me sad – obviously that’s no one’s intentions, but the result is typically the same. I start thinging about losing my father and I get sad all over again. Anyway, I’ve been in my little office praying that God will give me the right words to say and the right way to react to everyone. I’m pretty much clueless as to how I’m going to get through this but am excited to see how God will show up to be strong in my weakness.

On another note, I’m really missing Mom. We had a great 45 minute Skype conversation last night, but it’s not much good for hugs. I know she’s an amazing woman and much stronger than we give her credit for being, but I also realize that as hard as all of this is for me, it’s exponentially more difficult for her.

“God, please comfort mom right now and help her feel your arms holding her close. Lord, please let someone call her tonight just to visit and see how she’s doing. Help me to be the son I need to be for her and give me the encouraging words to say that will give her strength to go on and to know that things are going to be okay. Different, but okay.”

A New Normal

So…the slow process of reestablishing my life before “the dreaded phone call” which has spun my world off kilter is commencing, beginning with the trek back to northern Virginia. If day 1 is any indication, we’ll be alright. Of course, we only made it as far as Little Rock but I’m not complaining. We had the chance to visit dad’s grave before leaving town and it was totally worth the time. Parker caught a huge typo on the temporary grave marker: they had the death as 2011 instead of 2012. If we hadn’t caught it, the actual tombstone would’ve been wrong. 

Found myself flowing effortlessly between “fine” and “a mess” all throughout the day. I think I’m getting used to it now, so the sudden tears no longer surprise me. Wondering now when they’ll subside…or maybe they won’t. 

The kids are doing okay. Parker is having the hardest time, which isn’t a shock. How he has been dealing with it ranges from sad to angry to silent. My heart is breaking for him.  We all miss granddaddy so much and it’s still so new. I look forward to smiling again-on the inside. It’ll come. I keep telling myself things will be different, but good. A New Normal. I’ll take any kind of “normal” right now.