Monday, February 25, 2013

It Is Well

My daddy's favorite hymn was "It Is Well."  I have a memory of my dad preaching one night at church when I was little.  I don't remember what he said, but I remember him singing at the end of his sermon "It Is Well" a capella.  It touched me to see his love for Jesus.  Dad was far from perfect, but when he was in church, or in the Word, or in any discussion on anything Jesus, man, you could just see his love shining.  Even the tone of his voice changed.  It became more soothing, more graceful.  I just can't explain it. Those are the memories I cherish.  Those are the sounds I hold close to my heart.  That's where I find comfort- to remember his love for God and to remember how happy being in the presence of the Lord made him here on earth. I can only imagine what he feels now to truly be in His presence- for all eternity.  Thank you for that, Dad.  Thank you for making sure that we know without a shadow of a doubt that you are happier than ever right now. 

There was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to play "It Is Well" at his funeral.  Playing the piano is my favorite way to spend time with God.  When I play, I pray.  I play for Jesus.  He is my audience.  So to put my best into a song, usually every Sunday before I play, I look up the words to the hymn in the hymnal.  It makes everything that much more personal for Him and me.  It's our special time.  The day of the funeral, I happened to look up the words to "It Is Well" on my phone, even though I know the words backwards and forwards.  But like I said, it's a habit to do this before I play, and when I don't do it, I feel scattered- like I'm not put together.  When I opened the verses on my phone, I saw some stanzas that I'd never seen before.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

(Here's the two new stanzas I've never heard)

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

WOW.  It literally gave me chills just to type this.  Seeing these words, especially that last new stanza, gave me what I needed to play that day.  I've about killed that offertory arrangement of "It Is Well." I've played it so much.  But on that day, the day we celebrated my dad's life, I played it with everything I had and then some.  I don't know if it meant anything to anybody else, but I don't even care.  Because I played it for my dad.  I could see him sitting right where he did when I was growing up in that church, and I could see that little smile on his face.  Then I could see him as he is he is now- the clouds rolling back and welcoming him home! And he has blessed rest of his soul!  I played it for my dad, and I played it for my Jesus.  My Jesus, who has constantly comforted me and held me and let me rest in Him during this valley that I'm going through right now.  My Jesus, who has provided me with constant assurance that my daddy is okay.  My Jesus, oh how I love thee. 

I know this is a long post, but it feels so good to write.  I must share one more letter from my dad.  I hope that if anyone reads this, that it encourages you to write.  Write love letters to your children.  I'm so grateful to have these letters.  I share them as a remembrance of my dad, as a motivator for my friends to write to your loved ones, and as an accountability to myself to live for Jesus.

This was a birthday card.

I hope this day will be a happy day for you.  You bring such joy and happiness to my life.  The Lord truly blest me when He sent you to me.

I am so very proud of you.  You have a loving spirit that is very refreshing in the day in which we live.

I love you so very much that words cannot express the depth of my love for you.  Always remember no matter how old you get that you are Daddy's little girl.  Daddy will always be here for you!

Birthdays come and go and the presents you  get- they sometimes lose their luster, so I want to give you a gift that will last forever.  What is it?  It is some advice.  Here it is.  Are you ready? 

If you want to be truly happy in this life, stay very close to God.  Read your Bible and pray.  Share some of God's love with another person on a daily basis.  Don't look for what you can get, but rather look for what you can give.

And remember,
Daddy loves you!

Thank you, my sweet daddy, for this gift that will last forever.  You didn't know it at the time, but it was a double whammy.  I got great advice, and I got your beautiful, loving words.  Blessed.  That's what we are to have known him. 

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:  not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  John 14:27

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Never Leave Your Hands

"When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave Your hands."

This pain.  I want it to stop.  I feel so many different things right now, and I think I'd feel better just to let it all out.

First, I have some major internal conflict going on within myself.  I am my very own antagonist right now.  I have convinced myself that no one needs to know I'm hurting, because after all, people lose loved ones all the time, so just move on, Ashley.  Deal with it.  You're being ridiculous, I keep telling myself.  But you know what?  That's MY daddy that's gone.  And he's not coming back.  My heart literally aches.  I'm crushed.  How could he just be gone, just like that? 

Then, I'm conflicted spiritually.  I know that he's wonderfully happy and that I should rejoice in that.  And I do rejoice in that, but at the same time, I feel I have been robbed.  We all were.  And that's probably not okay to feel that way either.  But I'm just telling you how I feel right now.  Then I'm reminded of this verse...

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away."  Revelation 21:4

Does that bring me comfort?  You have no idea.  I'm so happy that my dad doesn't have to worry about anything anymore or be in any pain.  I'm so happy that he loved the Father and went to Him in times of need and now can be with him for eternity.  But that doesn't stop my heart from breaking.

Every time I see one of those yellow digging machines- backhoe or whatever they are called- I tear up and start to feel sick.  Every time I pass by his old work place, which is every day, I get sad.  Not that he was ever actually there much because he was always on the job, but there was that one particular time that I whipped in on my way home from school so he could check my low tire for me.  He'll never be here to do it again. 

Oh, the grieving process.  I'm not too good at it.  But I'm going to try to do better.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."  That will be my prayer.

My dad was a great writer.  He had a gift with words.  He was an eloquent writer and even had the perfect penmanship to match it.  Writing for me is therapy.  Just from five minutes ago when I started this blog to right now...I already feel better just writing my thoughts down.  We're going to be okay.  I just have to let myself be sad and know that no one is judging me.  It's okay.  It's going to be okay. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Carry Me

I love making messes with my boy.  I want him to have fun and learn to be creative.  Last night, I showed him how food dye works.  We mixed in different colors with vanilla pudding, and he stirred away, sneaking in little bites as he went.  Then he finger-painted with the pudding.  He had a good time, but his favorite part was taking a bath afterwards.  He can't stand to be dirty. He loves a bath! 

He loves being a silly monkey, too.  He's been practicing jumping from the ottoman to the couch.  It's hilarious.  We know we shouldn't let him do stuff like this, but we'll work on it later, ha. 

Today has definitely been just another day.  Nothing exciting at all. We stayed home all day long in our pajamas.  Cohen has been giving me some much needed sleep.  He slept until 9 this morning, then took a nice long nap.  He's my sunshine.  He can always make me smile.  Of course, in the next minute, he can also make me scream, but what can you say?  He's a two year old boy. 

I've really been missing my dad the past couple of days.  I want to hear his voice again.  I want him to be here so badly.  Cohen has been so sweet.  He'll catch me tearing up and automatically knows why.  "You sad, Mommy?  You miss PawPaw Gene?"  And then he'll wrap me up in his blanket and give me one of his beloved babies.  My mom posted a verse on my wall that is so comforting, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18.  I'm still in disbelief that he's not ever going to be here again.  And yes, he's happy where he's at, but that doesn't make me stop missing him.  I want my daddy.  I never thought he wouldn't be here at this time in my life.  Of course, I know no one ever expects it, so that's nothing new, but it's new to me.  Grief is new to me, at least this kind of grief.  I know this is only the start of what is inevitably more and more grief in my life as people get older and pass away.  And it stinks.  I'm going to have to just keep drawing close to our Father.  It's what my daddy would want. 

By: Margaret Fishback Powers

One night I dreamed a dream.
I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
There was only one set of footprints.
I realized that this was at the lowest
and saddest times of my life.
This always bothered me
and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

"Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You,
You would walk and talk with me all the way.
But I'm aware that during the most troublesome times of my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I just don't understand why, when I need You most,
You leave me."

He whispered, "My precious child, I love you
and will never leave you, never, ever,
during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lifting Me Up

I never thought when I started this blog that it would be about anything other than happy memories and Cohen.  I'm just a tad obsessed with him, after all, haha.  How could I not be?

But lately, it's been so therapeutic just to write down my feelings during this trying time.  I've never been quite so heartbroken before.  Cohen asked me tonight if we could go see PawPaw Gene in Heaven.  Not quite yet, baby boy, not quite yet.  I'm so sad he's going to grow up without knowing him.  The last time I saw my daddy, he was standing on his front porch, watching Cohen running away from me (his newest bad habit), and I yelled out to Dad, "I got the wrong kid, Dad!"  I'll never forget the sound of his laughter at that. I was always the type (and still am) that all you have to do is give me a look and I'd straighten up.  Cohen- not so much.  He's like my brother, haha.  Stubborn, hard-headed, and determined to make his presence known. 

I keep thinking the same things over and over.  I'm just so sad Cohen won't know him.  I just can't believe it. 

I found an old Valentine card from my mom and dad- 2/14/1998:

To My Girl,
You will probably never know how very special you are to me.  I know that your life will always bring joy to the people that you touch.  One of the greatest blessings God gave to me are my two children.  I may not always do the right thing in this job as a father, but you must know that I do the best I can.  I will not have you much longer as you are growing up faster than I care to admit.  Yet my love for you will never end.  I will always try to be a strong  fortress for you to come to in your times of need.  When life seems to get you down, you can know I will be lifting you up to our Father.

Love you forever,

I have no idea what Heaven is like or what he's doing up there right now, but I'm going to pretend, that in the midst of his rejoicing, he's lifting me up to the Father right now- that I'll be strong and that I will have peace.  And I pray that for all of my family right now.  That's what gives me comfort. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Good Grief?

This has been an experience I'm not quite sure I know how to handle.  My dad is gone, and I don't know what to do.  I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience.  The Ashley I know is not here right now, and it alarms me.  Is it okay to not be having the emotional outbursts that would so typically be me, or is trouble brewing for a future breakdown?  I'm not sure what's going on.  That's just where I'm at. 

On one hand, I've got peace- wonderful peace- that my daddy is okay, happy, ECSTATIC to be in Heaven, and I can see that smile that only my daddy has as he's with the angels rejoicing and praising God.  I'm so very, very comforted by this.  I'm not sure how people get through something like this without that blessed assurance.  I praise God for my upbringing- 2 strong Christian parents that instilled in me an unwavering faith. My daddy would want me to say all of these things, too.  It would make him proud to hear it.  BUUUTTTTTT.....

On the other hand, I want nothing more than to see my phone light up with a text with his sweet words, "How's my girl today?"  I'm so mad that I'm never going to get that text again.  It's just ridiculous to me.  I didn't know that last Wednesday was the last time I was going to talk to him.  I'm just so stinking mad.

To cry would mean to mourn, and I'm just not ready.  I don't want to face it yet.  And that's the bottom line.  I'll do it later.  I'll do it later. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

He Was That Good

Just wanted to share one of my dad's letters.  I'm so incredibly blessed.  I will treasure his words always.  I'm so very, very proud to call him my daddy.


This life is full of problems and worries, many of which you are beginning to experience.  If I had my way, you would never have any problems or worries.  I am writing this to share with you how very special you are to me.  When I see all the problems and worries that come my way, sometimes I get very discouraged.  But when I see you, I see something very beautiful, something that makes me very proud to be your father.  In you, my little girl, I see hope.  I see in you a life that brings joy to everyone you touch.  I see a deep, deep love for people in your life.  I see God using you to bring peace and love to the lives of those whom you meet. You are very special!

If my life were to end today, I want you to know that you are a very special blessing to me.  If I live for fifty more years, then everyday I will praise God that He gave me such a very special little girl.  My one wish is that you will always know that I am available to you.  I pray that I will always be a father that you will be proud of.  That is my dream.  My hope is that you will continue to let your light shine before this very dark world. 

I love you.  This love will never fade away.  You are in your daddy's heart forever.

To My Special Girl,
Your Dad

Friday, February 8, 2013


My daddy is gone and I can't believe it.  I keep expecting him to send a text telling me everything is going to be okay.  But he'd be right-everything will be okay.  What a lucky girl I've been to have such a great daddy.  Ever since I've gotten the phone call, one of my favorite songs by Nichole Nordeman keeps playing in my head over and over...

"The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around
us so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer
Life had begun, I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne, and who can say when,
But they’ll dance again, when I am free and finally headed home

 I will be weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name
“Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer,
Lord and King, Beginning and
the End, I am, yes, I am.”

My daddy is FREE and at home now!  There is nothing in the world more comforting than that.  Nothing.  That's the greatest gift my daddy has ever given me.  The absolute certainty that he loved God with all of his heart and wanted nothing more than to be with Him.  It has provided me with a peace I didn't know existed until this very time.
I was reminded of these verses tonight from a friend.  What an awesome experience he is going through right now!   Revelation 21:1-7
21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.