I don't always have the fondest memories of my dad.....growing up was difficult and my dad & I often disagreed and I was a very rebellious teenager. I am not proud of the ways that I've hurt my parents or what I've thought of them at times. Over the years, I've asked God many times to help me to see things through His eyes and not my own, to see the good and not always the bad. I often grew tired of the dwelling on all the negative aspects of our upbringing and was determined to seek out the good. There had to be good...there always is, but if we let it, the bad/negative will always rule and overcome the good. The good needed to be sought and it is there. From my dad, I inherited a passion for music and photography. My dad loved to listen to music and he loved pictures. Those are two great things I learned from my dad. He loved God....yes at times things became too legalistic and there was much tradition in our upbringing....but now as I have kids and am getting older, I value and see tradition in a different way. No it can't become so strong that it overrules my relationship with God or oversteps the boundaries that are set in His Word, but strong values and traditions can have it's place. I've learned to remember the good and to focus on that...I'm not perfect at it yet, but it has gotten better. God gave me my parents...He has a plan and purpose through it all....He planted me right where He wanted me...the youngest in a family of 7. He knew what He was doing and He knows the end from the beginning...and all I can do is trust in that and trust that His plan is perfect. He gave me my family and I thank God for them.
My dad passed away at the end of June. It was a difficult way to begin summer. Roger & I had just said good-bye to Brandon before he left on a missions trip to Trinidad. Then we drove the girls to camp for the week. We were settling in for a nice quiet week alone together and had some things planned just for the two of us. God had other plans. Dad hadn't been doing too well the past couple of weeks and the last week, he stayed in his bed and hadn't been eating for 3 days. He was sleeping a lot but was also in a lot of pain. We knew things could end soon, but at the same time, sometimes their health turns around and they pull through...so I really didn't know what to expect. Roger & I talked and we decided that I'd go spend the night with my mom & dad....the doctor didn't want them to be alone and advised the family to stay with him continually. So I thought I'd take a turn. God had amazingly opened doors for mom & dad to move into a nursing home at the end of May...again His plan was perfect....He knew where they could be together until the very end. I arrived at the home at 10 pm. Dad looked completely different than he had 2 days ago when I was there....he had been writhing in pain and looked awful but now, he lay still on his back with his hands crossed on his chest and his breathing very regular...he looked like he was ready to die. I prayed....Lord give me strength, I don't know if I want to be here and I don't know what to do, please give me courage and strength and to know what you want. Other family had been there all day and all night and some were still there. Just before 11, I felt a strong sense to sit and read scripture to my dad. I took my Bible that I had brought with me, and sat down, opened the Bible up in the Psalms and began reading. My mom had been out in the hall and came in as soon as she heard me reading. She was on one side of the bed and I was on the other. I just began reading random verses beginning at Psalm 15-18...I don't know why I read those but obviously God hand-picked them for me. The next day as I typed out what I read to dad that night, I was amazed at how God put it all together.
Scripture God had me read at my dad's bedside the night he died. Reading various verses from Psalm 15 – 18 New Living Translation
“Who may worship in your sanctuary Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right.
“Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! All the good things I have are from you.” Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy, and my mouth shouts his praises! My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your godly one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.
O Lord, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer. I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray. Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. You save with your strength, Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Arise O Lord. Save me by your mighty hand, O Lord, because I have done what is right, I will see you. When I awake, I will be fully satisfied, for I will see you face to face.
I love you Lord, you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold. I will call on the Lord, who is worthy of praise. The ropes of death surrounded me; the floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled; the foundations of the mountains shook; He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet. Mounted on a mighty angel, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind. The brilliance of his presence broke through the clouds, The Lord thundered from heaven; the Most High gave a mighty shout. Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of the deep waters. He delivered me.
And that's when dad breathed his last breath. I sat in awe of what I had just read. God is amazing at how He orchestrates things. I could not believe what had just happened. I will forever treasure that time with my mom and my dad. It's funny how all the bad things, the hurt of painful memories just fade away and the goodness of God takes over in my heart towards my dad. I had forgiven my dad long ago and over the last couple of years I had numerous talks with him about holding grudges, letting things go & forgiving and the goodness of God in our lives. During the past year, I prayed with my parents when I would go visit them...my desire was to leave with a good memory and a focus on God rather than negativity.....I treasure that time now. I thank God for my dad....no he was not perfect but neither am I. Thank you God for my dad.