Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Whiter than Snow

It's so much easier to fly through the days and just try not to think about him.  But I can only do it for so long until it catches up with me- the realization that it's been way too long since I've talked to him and I can never rectify that situation.  The only conversations I can have with him now are one-sided. But while my heart grieves here on earth, while it breaks every time I think of him, while my eyes overflow with tears when I remember him, he is exactly where he wants to be, at the feet of Jesus.  He must be doing wonderful.  I can see him now, glowing in the presence of our Savior.  It's the one thing his heart desired. 

I cherish my memories of him.  One of my favorites:  When I was little, on the way home from church on Sunday nights,  I would pretend to fall asleep just so he would carry me in and lay me down in my bed.  I was too big to be carried, but I loved to feel my daddy's arms around me.

This is an excerpt from one of his letters during a tough time in our lives, and my heart rests in these words tonight.  "I thank you for all of your love, for your smile , and for just being here for me.  I love you with my whole heart, I always have.  I will always be here for you.  There will never be anything or anyone more important to me than you and Corey.  Yesterday was hard, but today is a new day.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life, and I am going to live it for the glory of God."

When I am sad or thinking of him, inevitably a hymn pops in my mind.  Tonight it is "Whiter Than Snow."  What an awesome prayer for me tonight.  Powerful words.  I love these old hymns.

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
I want Thee forever to live in my soul.
Break down every idol, cast out every foe;
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow.
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, let nothing unholy remain,
Apply Thine own blood and extract ev’ry stain;
To get this blest cleansing, I all things forego—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies,
And help me to make a complete sacrifice.
I give up myself, and whatever I know,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
I wait, bless├Ęd Lord, at Thy crucified feet.
By faith, for my cleansing, I see Thy blood flow,
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait,
Come now, and within me a new heart create;
To those who have sought Thee, Thou never saidst “No,”
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
The blessing by faith, I receive from above;
O glory! my soul is made perfect in love;
My prayer has prevailed, and this moment I know,
The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow.

 I think it's exactly what my dad would have me hear.  He would want me to be comforted by only one thing, the love of Jesus.  Nothing would make him happier than to see us wanting to live better and love better because we have Jesus in our hearts.  It's what he wanted.  And goodness knows, he felt so defeated a lot of the time; he felt like he was failing, but nothing changed his desire to keep trying.  That's the legacy he's left with me.  In the midst of the trials on this earth, nothing wavered his faith in God. 

I love you, Dad.  I'm so mad that you aren't here, but that's my earthly selfish desires. So even though I'm angry that I don't have you, I have such peace to know that you are finally resting.  You are finally free from all your worries and pains.  Thank you for making sure we knew we were loved by you.

All my love, forever and ever,
Your little girl

Monday, May 13, 2013

She brings light into my life and laughter to my heart.

I hate to keep just writing about my dad, and I will write about other stuff eventually.  I have so much to write about.  I'm one lucky girl.  I've written of all the letters that my dad has written me.  What I've never said is that for each letter my dad wrote, I also have the matching ones from my mom, plus lots more that she's written over the years.  I'm loaded down with letters.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  And now, without even requesting it, my husband writes me letters- more notes than actual letters, but nonetheless, thoughtful words.  He just leaves them sitting out for me, and it fills my heart with thankfulness.  Not a lot of people, including myself, take the time to write notes and letters anymore.  And these letters- that's something that'll last a lifetime.  Something I will always cherish. 
I just got my special necklace in the mail that is made from the words of one of my dad's letters.  I think he would think that it's the neatest thing.  He would be delighted to know how much his words have meant to me lately; how they've comforted me.  He would love that he's been able to soothe my soul in some way. 
When times get stressful, that's when I want to talk to him.  When I'm tired and feel unworthy, that's when I want to hear his voice.  When I fail, that's when I want him to say, "Ashley Nicole, quit beating yourself up."  When I'm worn out, that's when I want to be able to vent to him. I miss that. I'll just read his letters instead. 
This letter was a Valentine's Card he gave me one year.  I never had a boyfriend in high school, and I would get so sad thinking I was missing out.   Looking back, I'm so glad it never happened.  I didn't miss out on anything at all.  I'm so glad that I had parents that were so concerned with the choices I made and that made their expectations so clear I knew not to mess with them.  I'm so thankful that they set boundaries.  I love this card.  It's what every girl feels at some point, and at the time, I'm sure I just rolled my eyes and thought, "Whatever, Dad."  But now I treasure his words.  And the time that he took to write them.  So thankful.
It seems like yesterday when I held you in my arms and wandered what kind of young lady you would grow up to be.  A father could not be blessed more than me.  You are my very special gift from God.  All of my hopes and dreams for you have come true.  I know sometimes you wonder why God hasn't led some young man to you, but I know why.  You are a treasure from God and He will bring you that very special young man one day and when that day comes, all the waiting will be worthwhile.  In my eyes you are and always will be my little girl.  You will never be without your father's love.  Never will I be too busy for you. I am here.  I love you so very much and I am so very proud of my daughter.  She brings light into my life and laughter to my heart. Always remember, I am here just for you.
I will love you forever,
I pray that as I continue on my journey of life that I can bring light into people's lives and laughter to their hearts.  I love those words.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Just Shine

When Michael works nights, it's just me and Cohen.  For some reason, I get sadder during these times, contemplating life without my dad.  It's just such a hard thing to understand.  To grasp.  To accept.  To even acknowledge.  Sometimes it's easier just to not think about it. Death is part of life; even the preacher said tonight- everyone is terminal.  But that doesn't make it any easier.  
I feel so bad when I lay down with Cohen some nights because sometimes (not that often, before you go judging me)  I literally just start bawling.  Poor baby- having to deal with his momma acting like that.  But God has given him the sweetest heart (most of the time, :-)) and he automatically knows why I'm crying.  "You miss Pawpaw Gene, Mommy?  It'll be okay, Mommy.  It'll be okay."   He tells me that over and over.  How blessed I am by him.  My daddy would think that's the sweetest thing ever.
My grandma was telling me how lucky she was to have him for 56 years; how thankful she was that God loaned him that long instead of just 6 or 16.  I'm thankful for the 31 years I had with him, but it wasn't enough.  Apparently to God it was, and I accept that, but I'm still sad about it.  And I think I'll always be sad about it, honestly. 
People say it gets  easier, but so far, I just see it getting harder as the days go by.  It makes me worry about all my loved ones dying.  And I know that's no good, but that's just how it is. And the dreams I have.  Oh the dreams I have.  Sometimes I feel robbed of my sleep because of the dreams.  I'm hoping this will all pass, hoping it's just part of it. 
As I've written before, playing the piano is my time with Jesus.  I should play more. I'm so thankful that I have this  special communication with Jesus.   Before I play on Sunday mornings, I like to read the words to the song I'm playing.  Hymns are right up there with scripture to me.  Full of good stuff.  Overflowing with uplifting, comforting words. You can't find words like that anywhere else.  I thought of my daddy as I played this one last Sunday. 
God Leads Us Along
In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.
Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.
Just reading the words to this hymn reminds me that I should be so grateful for the times I had with him, for the life that we had, and that I should embrace those memories and just shine.  Shine for Jesus and shine for Daddy.  Cause Heaven knows, he's just a shining in  God's presence right now.  I can see that happy, peaceful smile on his face.  Shining. 
I'm going to keep getting sad, no doubt, but I'm going to try to have a better attitude about it all, too.  And while I'm at it, I want to pray more.  To think of others more.  To do more.  To be  patient more.  To be joyful more. To be a light in this dark world.  I need to shine.  Just shine.  It's what he (and He) would want. 
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:16