Note: 6/16/13 – This post was something I originally wrote and shared on my father’s carepage two years ago 6/14/11 in the months after his cancer journey ended. I am reposting it here on my blog unedited.
- When Nate makes bacon and eggs for us, I realize that he’s carrying on my dad’s tradition (for as long as I can remember!) of cooking a delicious hot breakfast to show he cares.
- When we’ve had people at our house working on the deck or moving boxes, I’ve thought about how Dad drew up plans to build those deck stairs and that he would’ve been here with his strong arms, and that this is my first move where he won’t be loading the truck.
- When Mom made grilled cheese for the kids and I at her house recently, we remembered the grilled cheese that Grandpa made for us not too many months previous.
- When Nate was gone in FL the past few weeks, and I made the morning coffee instead of him, I remembered how comforting and welcoming it was to be at my parents’ house and know that my dad would always brew a pot, no matter what time of morning, afternoon, or night.
In recent years Dad has tried to be more deliberate and intentional about expressing his love in words, occasionally buying his own carefully chosen cards for anniversaries, birthdays, or Christmas. One year he wrote a limerick poem with a verse about each one of us. He’s a great writer, and very creative and funny. I’ve kept these cards that my dad has given, and I’ll always treasure them. I even have a precious video of my dad reading a birthday card to Micah this past February, when he gave him a target to use with his bow and arrow, and video from March when Micah got to show Grandpa the gifts being put to use.
I especially like reading the cards that my parents have given to each other, getting a glimpse into their deep love. It’s like my daughter Noelle coming down the hallway this morning, and seeing Nate and I embracing and giving a little kiss in the living room. She got a coy smile on her face, and said “I came just in time” like she caught us doing something secret. Kids might put on an act of making a fuss when they see their parents kissing, but really, they are reassured that their parents really love each other (and actually like each other too!) And so it is with me, too, that I have enjoyed seeing my parents as more than my parents, but seeing them as husband and wife, two people in love with each other. Those cards reveal their personal thoughts and hearts towards one another.
Tomorrow (June 15) is my parents’ anniversary. Last year, we were camping at the Conference Grounds, and had just learned that Dad’s cancer was spreading, and not responding to chemo. Our hearts were heavy, and yet the burden was lifted with the celebration with a cake that had blue frosting which stained everyone’s lips and tongues bright blue. We had lots of laughter, and took lots of fun pictures (which are still here in the photo gallery). My parents seemed more in love than ever. Holding hands, being silly, cherishing every moment.
This year, these “first” holidays are hard. Mother’s Day was hard for me, as we shared a family meal out on the patio, with delicious food, as we had so many times in the past, but this time without Dad there. Tomorrow is another day of remembering on my parents’ anniversary. And in a few days, Rick’s birthday, and then our first Father’s Day. There is no way getting around the pain, only through it – my wise younger sister told me that!
But living here without our father doesn’t mean that we don’t have something to celebrate. Because our dad has left behind an amazing legacy of love. And that makes Father’s Day even more worth recognizing – for him, and for our father-in-laws (and other father-figures) who are so important in our lives, and for those in our family who are following in Dad’s footsteps as dads themselves, now raising their own children, and continuing that love that Dad has shown over the years.
A few weekends ago Mom had Noelle and Micah overnight and she took them to worship at Gold Avenue Church where my dad had served so selflessly and faithfully for so many years. Gold Ave is a sister church of my parents’ home church Westend CRC. Afterwards it gave us an opportunity to talk to the kids about all the things Grandpa did to serve God and God’s people in his ministry there. When we told them how he snowplowed their parking lot, Noelle asked how much he got paid (she just did Jr. Achievement at school, so she’s been very interested in jobs and earning money lately). We said “nothing – he did it for free.” She asked “why?” And we replied, “Because he loved the people, and because he was serving God.” And she said “Wow” You could see it sinking in for her, what it means to give with great love.
My dad’s love, shown in a variety of ways, sticks with us – it has shaped us, and taught us, and we try to exemplify the same love, which is the love of Jesus. Nate and I are getting ready to move from MI to FL. We are going to be starting a new church, starting “from scratch”, as we move into the neighborhood and start meeting people, and sharing the love of Jesus. The mission that we have chosen is Go. Show. Love.
Dad died just 4 days after Nate and I were invited to be a part of this church planting faith adventure. He won’t be able to help us move, and he won’t be able to visit the new church when we launch next spring. But he did get to talk to us on the phone that Wednesday night, and hear about the “sign in the heavens” that we were given from God – a sky-writer plane that spelled out “JESUS LOVES U TRUST JESUS.” Those words are a theme that stayed with us as Jesus carried him into glory, and they carry us into this next big chapter in our lives. JESUS LOVES U TRUST JESUS
We’re gathering with some family and friends tonight at Westend CRC at 7pm to share about our new church, which we’ve chosen to call LifeSpring. It’s fitting that at the same place where we closed out my dad’s life with his funeral service, we gather again to talk about new life in Christ that continues to grow because of our hope in Jesus. Our hearts hurt, and we miss Dad, and at moments it’s more than I think I can bear. I look forward to seeing him again, and sometimes I have such a deep longing either to go to heaven, or for Jesus to hurry up and return. But I know the work here on earth is not done, and I know that Dad would want me to do it, and would be proud of me because it is a continuation of the same love that Dad showed in his life. And so, even though I’ve never lived away from MI and away from my family, and I know parts will be very hard, I am excited to go where God is calling – to GO in the power of the Holy Spirit, to SHOW the example of Jesus, and to LOVE in the same way that my dad has loved. I trust Jesus and his love to help us in every circumstance.
If you would like to stay up to date with the new ministry that Nate and I are doing in FL, you can go to our website at GoShowLove.org
Thanks for loving our entire family and for the support you have shown. Blessings, Andrea
- One Month…Living Abundantly
- [Go. Show. Love.] Jesus in the Florida Sky