It started several years ago. Every time we would sing Horatio Spafford’s hymn, It is Well, I would cry. It was the last verse that moved me every time…
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!
My desire for this day to come, to see Jesus, was impacted by my Daddy who was slowly drifting away from us. Dementia had started to creep in and the man with whom I would have the best conversations morphed into a man who could only talk about the weather.
And so, I began to feel it deeply in my heart- Lord, haste the day! Make my Daddy’s faith sight!
I didn’t want to lose him, but the discovery that I already had left me weepy every time we sang It is Well. But I found something surprising to be true; it WAS well with my soul. Even in the midst of a breaking heart, I was reminded that my Daddy had loved Jesus well and had faithfully demonstrated with his life what it meant to walk with God. His greatest desire? Give me Jesus.
A year ago today, my prayer was answered. My Daddy’s faith was made sight!
At the funeral a few days later, I wore my It is Well necklace. My sister played the hymn on piano as the prelude and then the congregation sang it. And I sobbed. I sobbed with the ache of missing my Daddy. And I sobbed with the joy that I could only imagine he was experiencing.
Even so, it is well with my soul!
I was determined to celebrate my Daddy today. I had an Amish made sticky bun with coffee for breakfast. I decided to use one of his sermons as my Sunday school lesson. I taught from his hand written notes on God’s promises, God’s presence and God’s preeminence (my Daddy loved alliteration and 3 points!). And then I entered our church sanctuary to worship with our church family only to discover that one of the songs that we would be singing was It is Well. Of course.
This time, it was my husband’s strong tenor that I echoed, but I could hear my Daddy singing in my heart. He loved to sing (and call-echo songs were always a favorite! Nobody would sing “Unto thee, O Lord” like my Daddy!).
I silently sobbed my way through the last verse as usual. The ache is still present, but oh, the joy! The joy of knowing that my Daddy is walking with Jesus! That he is fully restored to health! That he has heard well done, my good and faithful servant!
Oh, how I want to tell him all that happened today! I want to tell him about how I loved teaching his lesson while looking at the waterfall picture that hangs on the wall in my husband’s office (the picture that we gave to him as a thank you for officiating our wedding). I want to tell him about the piece of shoo-fly pie I ate yesterday and how I took the kids to pick peaches. I want to tell him that he would be so proud of his son-in-law who faithfully preaches the Word of God. I want to tell him that I watched the 49ers win today and that they no longer play at Candlestick. I want to tell him that I ran (mostly!) for 2.5 miles today. I want to tell him that we ate baked oatmeal for dinner and fresh peaches.
I want to tell him that he is still a daily part of my life. His wisdom, his prayers, his faithfulness, his legacy are having a lasting impression.
But mostly? I want to tell him that it is well with my soul.
My life changed that night a year ago nearly to the day.
But the truth is it had been changing for many years. I had slowly been losing the man who had taught me so many of my firsts. The one who taught me how to ride a bike and then was there to lift me up and carry me home when I had my bike accident. He taught me how to spell Rebekah, how to giggle hard, how to sing loud. He instilled in me a love for Jesus, a passion for the Word of God and a deep love of football.
He was my Daddy and I loved him dearly.
For each major change in my life, he was there, praying for me, supporting me, loving me and consistently pointing me to Jesus.
When I left my home in Pennsylvania to go to college, 3 states away, he told me this- you will want to serve, Becky, but these next four years are meant to prepare you for all that God has for you. Don’t miss out on your studies because you are so eager to get to the service part. When I married my husband, my Daddy was the one who got choked up as he pronounced us husband and wife. He held all of his grandchildren.
He started to forget which way he needed to turn on streets that he knew like the back of his hand. He would forget where I lived or what job my husband had. And when he looked at me with sad eyes and said, I think I am losing my mind, I knew it was a change I wasn’t ready for.
But that is kind of how change is. We aren’t always ready for it. And sometimes we will hate everything about it. We will fight against it, wanting things to remain as they have always been.
Losing my Daddy slowly was a lesson in change that I wish I hadn’t had to learn. Yet, I am thankful. Because I learned that God is gracious, that he is faithful even in the extremely difficult. I learned that His plan is perfect.
On that night nearly a year ago, when I received the call that my Daddy had breathed his last, my life did not fall apart. Rather, I was able to rejoice in this change for my Daddy. His cry of give me Jesus! had been answered. His mind was at once restored.
I don’t get to call him tomorrow and wish him a happy anniversary. But I do get to celebrate his life well lived. I don’t get to hear his voice and the way he called me Ree-bekah. But I can hear him singing in my heart. I don’t get to enjoy peach pie with him. But you can be sure I will be baking some for my kids.
Change is inevitable. How will we receive it?
Sometimes I long to sit down and have a nice long chat with you- the kind we used to have before your thoughts started to wander. The kind where I could tease you and we would laugh. The ones where you would share scripture and I would tell you what God was teaching me in His Word.
I miss you, Daddy and I wish this was a change that I didn’t have to face. But I pray that I would be faithful in teaching my kids and loving them well, living a legacy that they will want to follow in. Thank you for doing that for me!
I love you! That will never change.
Five Minute Friday posts are an opportunity for me to write with abandon, without over thinking or over editing. When it comes to this subject, that is exactly what I need. Five Minute Friday has a new host- Kate Motaung. I hope that you will take some time and meet her as you join in with this beautiful community of writers.
She brings out the worst in me.
I like to think of myself as easy going, patient, flexible. But then she will question me with those defiant eyes and I become someone else entirely. I get angry and frustrated while she digs in her heels even deeper and refuses to budge.
And all of a sudden I am someone who I do not want to be.
I am particular, impatient, rigid and my emotions are all over the place. Just like hers.
I have been her mama for over 11 years, but on these days, I feel completely inept. I have no idea how to parent her in those moments when we are both so angry, we can’t see straight.
All because I asked her to use a particular marker and it wasn’t the one that she wanted to use.
I wonder later if I am being as selfish as she is. Should I have let it go- this desire to have things be done my way? Am I unreasonable? Is it possible that I try too hard to control all the things?
My perception of myself is usually the opposite, that if anything, I err on the side of being too laid back, a push over. But when she looks at me through tears and when she says, why do you expect me to be perfect?, I question it all. After the fact, when she is being reasonable and not responding out of her wild emotions, she is able to admit that perfection is the last thing that I expect. She knows I fail (no one else sees my failures quite as vividly as my firstborn). But she also knows that I am quick to say I’m sorry.
I wonder at times if I am too hard on her. The truth is there are times when I am embarrassed by her behavior. She responds in over the top ways and I feel the need to apologize for her. Maybe that is why she feels this pressure from me?
The mirror is held up before me and I see my own inadequacies, my lack of self discipline, my need to please, my mistakes. And I wonder if I am an embarrassment. Will He really love me when I fail all the time? Does He really rejoice over me?
Loving my daughter is at the same time excruciating and exhilarating. This girl of mine is so talented, so gifted and as I watch her grow into her own skin, I am amazed by her. But it is hard to see her struggle so. And there are times when I am scared for her, for what doors will shut on her, because she doesn’t fit into the boxes of decorum, of the expected, of the “normal”. In my most honest moments, I will admit to you that I want her to fit into those boxes. Because it is easier. And there wouldn’t be as many highs and lows. And I wouldn’t have to explain or worry about the eye rolls.
I peer deeper into this mirror that is held up before me and I realize that while I fail as a mama, my God has never failed me. When it comes to me, He has thrown the boxes away and declares, See! I am doing a NEW thing in my girl! She doesn’t fit into your box? Good! That’s MY girl!
May I love my girl in the same way- embracing the idiosyncrasies, celebrating the quirks, while challenging the selfishness, the sin that so easily entangles. In all things, I pray that I would point her to Jesus, showing grace, portraying His strength in my weakness, submitting to His authority in my life.
May I mirror the behavior I expect from my girl. And may she become more like Jesus as a result.