Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Prayer for little Bryson


I knew this family when I sang in Chorale. Nicole sang behind me in the group for a couple of years. She is a WONDERFUL singer and we were pretty good friends. Please pray.

Monday, August 27, 2007

deep breath

Ok...my last post was dark, I know. I've gotten several emails checking in. Here's my standard answer: I KNOW in my HEAD that I'm going to be okay because my Father promises...I just don't always know how to tell my HEART that little tidbit of information.

4 weeks ago tonight was the last time I saw him breathing. So yeah, it's tough.

I just keep plugging away....pushing it back out of my mind until I can no longer hold it. Then I let it out. Unfortunately for you all, I've always been one to get the negatives out by putting them in to words. That's where this blog has been helpful - but probably scary from the reader's standpoint.

I'm not suicidal. I'm not cursing God. I'm not abandoning my life or my family. I'm coping. I'm doing that the best I know how. Some days I succeed and some days I fail. It's a process....and unfortunately for me, it's a process I'm fighting within my self with every breath. So that makes some moments harder than others.

I know what the right answers are. I've said that before. I know that I need to rely on God and my family and my friends. I know I have to stay active. I know I need to grieve. I know I need to blah blah blah....There's only one thing that I can do consistently and successfully right now.

I just breathe.

Sometimes the grief is overwhelming
...and sometimes manageable.

Sometimes I want to scream in the cornfield behind my house
...and other times that seems so futile and insignificant.

Sometimes I want the pain to go away
...and most of the time I'm grief-stricken.

Many times tears sting my eyes fighting for a chance to release
...all the time I want him back.

I find this more and more surreal as time passes. I forget - is that possible - that he's not here. I find myself picking up the phone to CALL him. We're buying his truck for Chad. I see it in my driveway and rejoice at being able to see him...and then I'm snapped back to reality. Instantly.

I find myself not remembering what he looked like. How can that be? All I see are the images of the last 10 days. They are forever burned in my mind.

I call his house when I know Jenny's not there to listen to the answering machine. Then, feeling stupid, I hang up before leaving a message.

I'm tired of calming my children at night amidst their cries for Pappaw. I find myself angry at them for crying (but I try not to let them realize it). What kind of a mother does that make me? Pretty awful, if you ask me.

I hate when the world asks me if I'm okay, and I hate when they don't.

I despise little elementary "Daddy's angel" and "Daddy's little girl" shirts.

My head says it's normal to be sad, angry, depressed, lost - that I should not take out frustration on other people. But my heart doesn't get the memo.

I think I can't think about it. But if I don't think about it constantly I feel guilty. I make no sense.

Tomorrow is the four week mark....no it's too late for that. TODAY is the four week mark. Don't tell me that I'm four weeks closer to seeing him. I'm four weeks FARTHER from him.

I think about who was in that room. I see myself out of my body reacting to his breathing...crying out to him...clutching to him as he took his last breath - feeling so helpless and alone and scared and panicked...it's unbearable.

When I do have memories of him that aren't of the sickness, it always reverts back. I think about painting this house...oh yeah, he had cancer then amd we didn't know. I think about Christmas...oh yeah, he was GETTING cancer then. I think about him holding Gabriel on his lap...I don't know the last time he saw Gabriel or Drew or Evan, for that matter. I think it was July 1. He wasn't feeling good that day. He was in a lot of pain. I slept through most of that day. The last time I would not know he was sick - and I wasted it sleeping!

He was such a better person than I am.

I know it does no good, but I ask Why? all the time.

No answers come.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In memory...

So I had planned to get a tattoo in "honor" or "memory" of my dad. It was a decision I made when the "c" word was introduced. I didn't know what I'd get at the time, I just knew that if he ended up dying that I wanted something that I would always see and remember him by. So, as time passed, the details became clearer. Chad and I went in on the day of Luke's 7th birthday to look at some designs - just to get ideas. I saw one that I immediately knew would be a part of the final product....and then I saw another. So I combined the two and went on from there. This is the original picture hanging up:

Now, if you aren't a fan of tattoos, then I'm gonna blow your mind when I say that I knew I didn't want the butterfly part because the first tattoo I got nine years ago is of a butterfly. I don't see the need for two.

The reason this one stuck out to me was because we had chosen orange lilies for his casket spray. Orange for Chicago Bears. So the accent color was a blue flower, of course. The main part of the arrangement were gerber daisies because they are "such a happy little flower." Dad liked them. I toyed with the idea of replacing the butterfly with the daisy, but decided against it in the end, thinking if I wanted the daisy, I could add it later. Better safe then sorry, right?

So the next thought was "Where?" My foot. An immediate answer came to mind. I wanted to symbolize that he had left some great footsteps to follow, and having it on my foot would remind me of the path he took and the one I should take. So I knew where, and I almost knew what.

I knew in the hospital that Isaiah 41:10 would be a part of it. It was Dad's life verse. When it came down to it, we abbreviated it to "Is. 41:10" just to be smaller and to eliminate a fraction of the pain.

I really wanted a cross, so I decided to turn the tribal vine-looking thing from the original into a tribal cross of some sorts. What color? Blue. Now the Chicago Bears were part of it. (#34 all the way! - by the way, is it a little odd that Sweetness died of liver cancer and Dad had pancreatic and liver cancer??? hm.)

After the artist got back from vacation, I went in last Thursday (8-16-07) and saw a sketch of what he thought I wanted. This is what I saw:

It was almost complete. I had instantly fallen in love with wanting to use a symbol - whether sanscrit, arabic, japanese, whatever - for the word "Father." I toyed with the idea of "Heaven," but in the end went with the former. So we set the date. August 23, 2007 at 5 PM. Now I just needed company to go.

I talked with Jenny and a few others...and all in all I had 4 people with me and 2 others text messaging me throughout the process. I ended up needing Chad and Jenny to answer the texts because I had to REALLY concentrate on not moving. I'll definitely say that of the two tattoos, this one was MUCH more painful. But Chad was right, the pain is temporary, and now I have something beautiful to think of my wonderful father all the time.

So here is the process. (And please excuse the mosquito bites....we went camping last weekend on a much-needed break with some really good friends who were pretty much exactly what I needed...and the bugs bit one part of me. My feet!! I was NOT happy, but trust me when I say that the RIGHT foot was much worse, so at least there's that.)

I chose my left foot because dad was left handed, and VERY proud of it.

First they drew it on. It's a little smeared because we had the verse reference in about 3 or 4 spots before deciding on Chad's suggestion. The small Japanese "Father" is in the largest leaf of the lily. It's very difficult to see on here.

Then came the black outline and the navy blue tribal cross. This was painful more toward the meaty part of my foot...the bonier parts were surprisingly not as bad.

Color was next - orange. This took about 3 - 5 minutes. (From start to finish it was only 30, once he got everything set.) The color actually hurt more. I remembered that from the first tattoo, so I wasn't surprised. I wonder how much of that is because they use 3 - 4 needles for color at the same time and how much of that is that you are really tender already. Here are a couple different angles of the finished product. The verse is on the right hand side as you see it here, but it can be read from in front of me. It's very small and follows the horizontal part of the cross.

I'm really happy with it. I may go back later and add a third color to accent....but I'm going to see how this is for a while. What do you think?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Big Boy Underwear!

Gabriel is ALMOST there, folks!!!! HALLELUJAH!!!! And he was sooo proud! As was his mommy!

I have more to post about my weekend...but I don't have time. So it's coming. Promise.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

And I'm spent.

Emotional worship tonight at youth. Chad and I have been helping. Well, we committed then Dad got sick...and so tonight was the first time back. I was a wreck. I got to singing songs about receiving God's grace and being able to spend eternity with Jesus...which equals an eternity with my dad. And that's all I needed. I'm tired of crying, but I feel better now.

I'm excited about commiting to help lead worship on Sunday Morning at the Alive service. We just decided tonight to help. It will be fun. No expectations - just true worship. Every time I'm back there I feel like I'm at the THRONE of GRACE. I'm super excited about getting involved. Now if I can just get my emotions in check.

I got an email today....and I think it was interesting. The quote is from the guy who wrote "Purpose Driven Life" - Rick Warren. This quote follows with the italicized sections the parts that specifically spoke to me today...

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems
. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,"which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up fou ndations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?

Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism?

Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

hallelujah for normalcy.

A. Is normalcy a word? I always use it....

B. Today wasn't as bad as the last 3 or 4. Small blessings count, too.

C. School begins for students tomorrow...I haven't exactly relished the thought...

D. It's mid-August, and my house is actually cold.....hmmm..

E. A few pictures I received today from Chad's parents while they watched the kids countless times this summer. Cute, huh?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Text message

Today, I didn't mean to do it...but it happened anyway.

I had to go back to work. Last year, the normal routine was to stop by one babysitter's house and drop off Luke before going to the other sitter's house. Inadvertantly, I turned to go to the first babysitter's...but she doesn't watch Luke anymore. SO, no big deal? Just go to school via the other babysitter's house from there, right? Sure. I didn't realize until I was about 100 yards away that I was headed RIGHT for the cemetery...and Dad's site is right by the road. I haven't gone at all yet, and I didn't think I wanted the first time I saw the site since the funeral would be on my first day back to school. But it happened anyway. And the kids knew what was going on so they started asking questions.

Tears stung my eyes, but I stayed strong. Dropped off the kids, headed to school. First meeting? New superintendent. She told her life story....lost a parent to cancer as a young girl. *dagger to heart*

Next, a guest speaker (who on a side note, literally said from the stage in front of all the teachers "you can work your balls off - to bleeding!" - you could have heard a pin drop.....). What does he talk about? "4 things I learned from?" You guessed it "My dad." *dagger to heart*

I told Jenny I'd go back to work today because, after all, my school district has nothing to do with Dad. Apparently, his witness and testimony was farther reaching than I expected. I was flooded with people asking me if I was okay and extending their sympathies. I didn't really expect it. I didn't even eat lunch with anyone. I just wanted to hide.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that people are caring for me....but I just wanted to feel normal today. That didn't happen.

I had texted Chad about the drive-by at the cemetery this morning. His answer were song lyrics my dad used to sing to me....in the car, when I was sad....maybe you'll know them. At the time, the text did make me smile, just as he hoped. Now they sting. Here comes dagger #4 for the day.

I love you more today than yesterday
But not as much as tomorrow....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rainy days and Sundays....well, that's not quite how the song goes

For as long as I can remember of my married life, I have spent almost every single Sunday with my dad and his wife. Especially once we had kids, we spent every Sunday afternoon and evening. The routine would be: After church, we go out to eat (the more kids I got, the more often we stayed at Dad's house instead). After lunch, we go back to his house. The kids choose the blanket they want for the day from the blanket box. The kids choose a spot on the living room floor. Some sort of sports were chosen for the TV display. Within minutes, Chad is sleeping...and shortly after, most of the other adults are snoozing away as well. After naps, we played games and ate pizza - it had to be Abe's pizza. I'll admit the game playing had kind of gone by the wayside. When football season started, we all adorned our favorite Bears jersey and the card and board games subsided until after the Superbowl. Many times, we'd play Penguin Pat with the boys so we could be the Big Tuna....or My Dog Has Fleas....or Old MacDonald Had A Farm....The kids would go "swimming" in the hottub. Once they were eight months old. That was Dad's magic age. I'm not sure where he got that, but it's the standard that he used. I'd say in the entire time I have been married, there are less than 20 Sundays that we didn't go to Dad's. One weekend we didn't go was graduation because of his senior class sponsor duties on the day of graduation...that weekend was a given. Easter was also a time we usually went to the other side of family. Other than that, Sundays were reserved for time with my Dad.

I think that is why they will always be hard now. I wouldn't trade that time for the world.

I remember playing spoons with my brother and his girlfriend at the time. I was pregnant (either for Luke or for the twins - I'm thinking it was Luke) -- very pregnant. Either Jenny or I got our fourth card, so we quietly reached for the nearest spoon. Realizing one was gone the mad house began. I was sitting across from Dad and Todd. They both needed the only remaining spoon, so they went for it. As a very pregnant person, I ended up on the floor between my chair and both of them....it was rather violent - but all in good fun.

I remember Dad doing the Superbowl Shuffle last year (bad back and all) with Drew and the boys in the living room.

I heard many a referee yelled at from his spot on the loveseat.

I remember after Dad and Jenny got their HUMONGO Christmas tree with like 2 million lights (I'm not exaggerating by much) the first Sunday we went when the tree was all finished for the season. The kids and all of us ooo-ing and aw-ing. Placing our own ornament with our own names on the tree.

These are just a few of the memories that I'm terrified of forgetting.

Today, we met Jenny at Fazoli's after church. It was one of Dad's favorite places to go on Sunday if he had something he had to do in the afternoon or the Bears game started early that week. It was fast....Anyway, we met Jenny. When we walked in, Gabriel looked at her and said, "Where's Pappaw?" Jenny handled it so well...her answer was simply that he was in Heaven. I apologized because I felt the awkwardness. She chalked it up to the way things will be for him for a while. He's too little to truly understand. After all, the man in the casket didn't really even look like who he loves as Pappaw.

I know I have never gone two weeks without talking to my father. I was too close to him for that. If it had been two or three days, it was rare....especially after I graduated from college. But even while I was there, we kept in close contact. Probably more so than many kids.

Today we would have complained that our summers were over because we both would be starting school tomorrow. He would have actually called me Friday afternoon at about 3:00 and said our summer vacation was over because now we were just on a regular weekend like always. I hated being reminded....how I wished for that phone call Friday afternoon!

I think about 33 or 34 years ago today, he married my mom. I'm going to have to call her, but I don't know what to say. I'm sure she is thinking about it. How could you not?

Jenny gave me one of his Bibles....and I still have unopened cards. Sometimes I just get to the point where I can't read another one. I saw someone today that asked me if I had gotten her card. I don't remember reading it and I couldn't make myself tell her that I haven't read them all yet.

In church, we sang some songs that I couldn't think about. I was glad that I had to play and sing behind the piano today...if I would have thought about it too much, I couldn't have done it...but I kind of just went numb. We sang hymns he would have belted with the best of them. We sang a song that reduced me to tears on the stage before anyone but me and Jenny and Chad new he had cancer....I blubbered that day in front of all the congregation to see. The words echoed in my mind. "Every fear suddenly wiped away." How the word "cancer" frightened me! "Here in your presence, all things are new." I kept thinking, "Even his pancreas can be new, God!! Make it so!" That prayer was not answered here on earth. We sang another song that was sung at his funeral...I saw Jenny from over my music singing it with tears streaming down her face in the front row. Numbness...it's all I could muster. I pray God was not disappointed in me this morning...but I just couldn't go there. I just didn't have the strength.

Do you really believe he is with me? Do you really believe in these so-called "signs" people say he will leave me? Is it possible for him to see me from Heaven? Part of me wants to believe it all, but the other part is so afraid, like I've always been, of disappointing him that I hope it's not true. But the thought of him not seeing my kids as they grow up and not being beside me when I need him is completely unbearable. COMPLETELY...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Smacked in the face....

Of course, it wasn't literal, but I still felt the sting. The sting of guilt, shame. All this time....I should have been learning by the example the great men of faith before me have set. Men like my Dad, my good friend K, my grandfather....men I respect quite a bit. But instead, I fell right over my wagging tongue.

I've been so angry about the things going on in my church for the past few months, and I haven't been too discerning about who I discuss it with. How dumb am I! I could have listened, I could have learned, I could have saved myself the guilt I feel. I could have led by example and shown grace, forgiveness....some of those men even TOLD me to do that. But I let my need for vengeance and justice dictate my mouth.

God, forgive me! I pray that from now on, God will give me the self-control and grace that He has shown to me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

11 days

The past 11 days have been a whirlwind. Exactly this time one week ago, we were eating the funeral dinner. Exactly two weeks ago, Dad was up, sitting in his hospital room having one of the best days he had had since getting sick...well, I say "since getting sick..." even though he was sick long before we knew...

A month ago, we were being told bad news....

Two months ago, we had no clue my dad would be gone now.

Three months ago, Dad was probably out buying my birthday card....standing in the aisles of Meijer (I suppose) trying to find the perfect one to underline and sign.

Four months ago, he was finishing up Spring Break for the last time ever....and beginning the last long-stretch before graduation....It would not be long before his right hand would go numb and he wouldn't be able to button shirts well anymore.

Five months ago, he had back pain, but the doctors were dismissing it as "not too bad of arthritis. It shouldn't hurt this bad."

Six months ago, he decided he should be getting his back looked at since he was having trouble sleeping.

Seven months ago, he was uncomfortable, but he was enjoying a successful Chicago Bears season.

Eight months ago, a cell somewhere in his pancreas decided to go crazy and become cancerous. What made it do that? Why in the world did this happen?

A year ago, everything was fine...

A year from now...

?? I don't know. It is funny how when things like this happen, everything that was really important doesn't matter. I don't care if I ever teach again...I don't care if I live in Greentown for the rest of my life....These are two things I never even questioned.

I'm not sure anything will ever be fine again.

One more time!

More pictures!

This is the kids the day of Dad's viewing. Luke is the tallest in the back. Gabriel is in front. Drew is on the left, and Evan is on the right.

Last night, the kids went to a friend's birthday party at the park. This particular park must be sprayed in soot and dirt each night because every child there looked like the chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins when it was done. I should have taken before and after pictures....but my kids were too quick for me. When we got home, I made them strip naked in the back yard and jump in our little kiddy pool. There was NO way they were coming in the house like they were!!! So at the risk of being too revealing, I'm going to post a few shots of them last night. Our neighbors were probably thinking Great!! There the Monize kids go again! Little did they know it was with my blessing this time.

First Gabe climbing out...

Honestly, I think I have about 25 pictures from last night, but these are the only ones decent enough to post....I'm just not putting the full frontal on here....although some of those (with the facial expressions and such) are the best ones!

And here's our not so little puppy watching from afar....The lighting makes Bo's eyes look crazy, but he's not...usually.

Well, Audrey, and others, I hope you enjoyed it! :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Because I'm waiting on laundry and naps to finish (and because SOMEone I know likes picture updates...)

Enjoy...these were taken at the Ft. Wayne Zoo a few weeks ago...even though it seems like a year ago. First is one of my favorites. Luke and Gabriel are hatching from the big dino egg. I love Gabriel's hair. We call him "Spikey" when he wants this done.

There were several animals to pet. Gabriel and his brothers enjoyed the small ponies.

I was walking behind the group when I saw Drew reach down and grab his littlest brother's hand. I thought it was sweet...

My little Drummer Boy, Drew.

Not only is he a percussionist, but he's always been a ladies' man!

Evan being goofy and dressing for the safari.

Gabriel touched some kind of lizzard or newt or something...I didn't. He's braver than his mommy.

I had no idea...

...how the events of this past summer would change my perspectives, change my life, change everything....i just want to sleep, but i know i can't. there are a lot of little boys depending on me, and today is the twins' birthdays - so i have some cleaning and shopping to do....no rest for the weary today...or for a long time...i start school next monday. is that possible??

Monday, August 06, 2007

Completely lazy

Today I have done nothing...except about half an hour ago. I don't know whether to feel good about it or not...I know my brain needs a rest from all this, and I'm completely exhausted. But the other side of me says I have to do more in these last few days before school starts with my boys.

Aside from getting the boys' lunch (Luke got their breakfast of milk and strawberry pop tarts), I have made my bed and started a load of laundry. Oh! I also folded a load...

Tonight my brother and his family are coming over, so I have to go get a shower, at least!

So can someone tell me who has gone through this when I stop feeling two-sided about every single thought and action?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Birthday at Ivanhoes

If you have been to Upland or Marion, Indiana, you probably have heard of Ivanhoe's Ice Cream. It's absolutely amazing. I think their ice cream menu has over 200 items on it that are standard dishes. And of course, you can create your own. It's by far the best ice cream experience ever....my boys got these "clown sundaes" for their birthdays. They had trick candles on them, as well...so it was hilarious, apparently to see Gabriel try to blow it out. French fries landed on the sundae!! (Even though it's not his birthday, how could i get 3 of these and not one for him!?!?!)

Some things that have worked...

After the crying and sobbing of my oldest, Luke, I have learned some things that work...at least for now....even if I cry through it with him.

I promised him we'd get him a CD player for his room. For $19.95 at Walmart, Chad and I picked one up for him today. Since it was his birthday, we let him open that one, but he has to wait for his party on Tuesday to open the rest. He was thrilled. The CD player allows him to fall asleep to my dad's music cd's. He and his brothers sang for many years (all of my life and in to my 20's). They travelled all over the midwest and made it farther a few times. We'd load up the bus sometimes at 3AM to get to a church. I can remember some really good times there. In the process of all those years, the group (The Singing Nicholsons) actually made six or seven (I think) albums. They supplemented with 8 tracks early on in their career, but I remember the sweet day that they branched in to the world of cassette tapes!! :) HA! Anyway, after my uncles and dad stopped singing, my dad formed a group (of which my brother was a part for several years before moving away) called Joyful Noise. The Noise, as we like to call them - affectionately, of course - have recorded 4 (I think ) CDs. We're very fortunate. Most people don't have the luxury of hearing their loved ones after they have passed. Tonight, Luke and the other boys listened to one of the first Nicholson albums since Dad had gotten them all converted to CD a few Christmases ago for the family. It was such a great idea. I'm so glad that he did it!!! Tonight, instead of all the crying, we had smiles and peace. Thank GOD!!

Today, since my mom is still in town, she took the boys while I went birthday gift shopping for Luke, Drew, and Evan. Mom, her husband, and my grandparents decided to brave it and took them to town. She went ahead and bought them all stuffed dinosaurs (THEY LOVE DINOS!!) and then let Luke pick out a few things. He decided on a skateboard (ER visit in my future, I sense) and a new backpack for first grade. With the rest of his money, he told Mom that he wanted to get his "mommy something because she was sad," and he thought that I needed cheering up!!!! Mom replied that this was a good idea, but he needed to understand that using his money for me would mean he didn't get as much. He said it was okay. He picked out two shirts. (One of them I actually tried on when buying clothes for the funeral and viewing!!) How touching is that??!?!! I have some good kids....Chad and I must be doing something right.

In order for me to express my memory of my father, I decided when we heard the news that he only had a few days to live to get another tattoo. Chad and I went in to pick it out tonight before doing all the birthday shopping. The artist is drawing it up for me, and I should have a draft in a few days. I'll try to explain it as I envision it. There is a vine-like navy cross. In front of the cross, I will have an orange tiger lily because this was one of the flowers we chose for his casket spray of flowers. In the largest leaf of the flower, I will have the Japanese symbol for "father" and then somewhere near the vine-cross, I want Dad's favorite Bible verse: Isaiah 41:10. I may add a gerber daisy somewhere because he had those as well on his casket. He always said, according to Jenny, that they were "such a happy flower" - I think it was a line from a movie....but I can't remember. Anyway, I am really excited to see what they come up with. I will be putting the tattoo on top of my left foot. Left because Dad was a lefty, and Chad said it had to be on the left because of that. I chose my foot because my dad left some huge footprints for many to follow, and I wanted to also sybolize that he has gone before me.

So, tomorrow begins another week....just a week ago today, Dad was drinking chocolate milkshakes and joking with his brothers...it seems impossible that he is gone forever from my life. I can't imagine this. I swear I see him sometimes out of the corner of my eye, only to be disappointed. Yesterday at his funeral dinner, I sat down with my kids and thought to myself, "I wonder where Dad is sitting..." But then the cruel reality hit. How long will I think these thoughts and see glimpses of him and hear his laughter behind me? I don't know. I can't decide whether these hallucinations are a curse tormenting me in my grief or a blessing to remind me of what a loving and gracious father he was.

I love him so much....

Saturday, August 04, 2007

August 4, 2000 - August 4, 2007

Today, Dad's oldest grandson, Luke, turned seven. It was hard for him last night to realize that his pappaw wouldn't be there for his birthday, but we talked through it and cried together. (Drew and Evan, our twins, turn 5 on Tuesday...)

It was estimated that 1200 people joined us at Dad's visitation and/or funeral. That is truly amazing. We all thank you so much for the support and encouragement.

Dad's funeral service yesterday was indescribable. God was truly there with us. There would have been no way that Todd, Micah, Chad, and I could have done all we were able to do without the strength of the Father. I haven't worshipped like that or had so much hope in such a long time. In a way, Dad's funeral was refreshing for me. That seems so impossible by earhly standards, but when you know - without a doubt - that God has literally held you up, given you words, and provided peace, it's not so impossible any more.

It's all a little surreal. When you go to town and do something normal and then realize what you were doing that time yesterday...or a week ago...or a month ago...it comes flooding back.

One month ago today, Dad was taken to the ER for stroke-like symptoms. Who knew that our world would turn completely upside-down so quickly? God did...and looking back at the months leading up to this whole situation, I can see how God was preparing me...

Teaching me to lean less on my dad and more on my husband.

Using songs in worship to prepare me.

Teaching me to think about my own salvation and what I can do to have a deeper relationship with God.

Putting people in my path, people that would give real encouragement and be a prayer warrior for me.

Internalizing Scripture that would be crucial for my strength in this trial.

Isn't God, in His infinite wisdom, great?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Viewing is done

Thank God. It was good to hear all the stories, and tiring at the same time. I'm so tired...and drained...and exhausted...and yet I have things I must do....so I better get to them.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


was difficult. The day was pretty good, but man, tonight I could have done without.