Monday, October 24, 2011

Shaving cream, fried eggs and basballs

Some little girls watch their mamas in the kitchen. I sat in the bathroom watching my daddy shave. He woke up every morning at 4:00am to ready for work. I would hear the alarm and I was up. My mom would make him breakfast and make him a few extra fried egg sandwiches to take for lunch. Dad would sit down at the table and I was there right next to him eating away at an egg sandwich covered in mustard.

I was just a little thing, but old enough to crawl up on the bathroom counter. I would grab my dad's shaving cream, you know, that cool blue kind, and smear it all across my face. I would then pretend I was shaving. Dad never let me use his razor, but he would hand me his little comb and that would be my pretend razor.

A few years later he would be throwing baseballs at me. I would hold my glove up high, ready to catch the ball. Dad always said, "If you want to learn how to play softball, we are gonna learn baseball first." So, there was never a softball in our house. I remember that first baseball I didn't catch. I guess I didn't have my glove ready in time. Smack, right in the nose. That is how I have a crooked spot at the top of my nose. Sure enough, broke my nose. Blood everywhere and here comes my mom screaming. Oh, I can still see it. She was not a happy woman. I didn't even cry. I went inside, got cleaned up, grabbed my glove and was right back outside ready for more.

Fishing was my dad's favorite pass time. I love to fish. Of course, I caught my first catfish with my dad. He was over the top excited. Then came that first bass. I think he was pretty much excited every time I did something. He did have to untangle quite a few of my lines I would cast into the trees. I never did have the gift my dad carried, but the love for the sport was always present.

Anytime I smell shaving cream it brings me back to that day watching my dad. Playing softball takes me back to summer at home. To this day I still love eating fried egg sandwiches. Now, I eat them with my husband.

Time seems to play tricks on us. When we are small we really aren't thinking of those days when mom or dad won't be around. In fact, that is something we never imagine. I know I didn't. I never expected to lose my dad to cancer. Not my dad, with forearms like guns. Not my strong dad that seemed to overshadow everything in this little girls life. To me, he was bigger than life. Even at nineteen, watching my dad die, that is still today the hardest thing I have ever faced. All it takes is a smell, a waft of air, to take me back in time to those days of hollowness.

In those days I didn't know who Jesus was. Sure, I knew there was a God, but I didn't want anything to do with Him. I figured what people said about Him couldn't be true. How could any loving God take my dad in such an ugly way? Why would He want to rip him from my life?

When we lose those we love we never understand. Nothing makes sense to us. We don't have to pretend. In fact, that is pretty much what I had to do. I had to remain strong for my mom. I only cried in silence, in the darkness of my room. A room which was no longer in my childhood home, but in my sister's basement. When dad died, everything in my life changed. I went from smiling, to having a broken heart and searching for healing. The problem was, I was looking in all the wrong places. I so wanted to see him. I missed him so. There are nights that I still dream about him. It's like a dream in living color. A dream I don't want to wake from. But I do. I close my eyes and try with all my might to go back.

Life today is different for me. I know who Jesus is today. I have known Him as my Savior for nineteen years now. You would think in nineteen years I would have a better understanding. No, it still hurts to think about. My dad was cremated. All I have left of him is ashes. Do you know when one is cremated they give you the ashes in a beautiful box, but too, they hand you a brown paper bag. Yes, a brown paper bag, held my dad. I took those ashes and walked down to the river in front of our home and sat on the bench we fished on together. I opened that bag and placed my hand in ever so gently. It was a moment in time I will never forget. Those ashes scattered across the wind like an angel taking flight. It was as though time stood still for just a moment. In that moment I felt a peace wash over me. Today, I know that peace was the Holy Spirit. Even then, He was guiding me. Oh, I didn't know, but He knew just what I needed. This young woman, just wanted to be a little girl again eating fried egg sandwiches  and catching baseballs with her dad.

When someone we love dies we often hear many things. One that I heard often was, "In time you will heal." I can tell you, that is a crock. Time doesn't heal pain like that. It is as real today as it was then. But one thing does happen. God gives me grace to overcome. Today I have a son that looks identical to his grandfather. A grandfather that would be so very proud. I can only imagine them meeting in heaven. Yes, heaven. See, even though I didn't grow up in a Christian home, one day when the sun was shining bright, a pastor came to visit my dad. My dad had wanted to be a Jehovah's Witness Pastor in His younger days. So, he knew God, he just didn't know Jesus on the level as His Savior. But on this day, my dad, asked the Lord to come into his heart. At the time I really didn't understand that and really didn't care to know. But later the Lord would open my eyes to redemption and forgiveness. He would see my husband walking next to me into our home church and see me sitting there in the pew holding my son. I heard our pastor speak of God's love and it was as though my feet just took on a power all their own. I walked the aisle that day and met the Jesus that my dad had found. My life has never been the same.

Friend, if you are hurting today, you may not be able to go back to yesterday, but you can embrace today. You can seek a Savior that understands your pain. He has felt your shattered heart and knows the brokenness you feel. He knows how we feel betrayed and alone. He didn't take my father as a punishment. Through my dad's cancer he had time to know Jesus. Jesus was doing a work in his heart. A heart that needed change. He set in motion a life everlasting and even though I didn't understand, He was placing before me a path that only pointed to Him.

Let go of all that you cannot change and embrace your memories that bring a smile. Close your eyes and envision the wondrous times with gladness. Life happens and not everything seems fair. Sometimes life is downright hard. I have been there where I wanted to give up. But for the grace of God I am here living for Him and serving Him with joy. I have learned that in the midst of my pain, He brings from those ashes a beauty that only He can create.

Allow the Lord to heal you today, by simply trusting Him and surrendering all your pain and anger at the foot of the cross. Lay it down, once and for all. He will carry your load of heaviness, so you can find a place of rest in memories to light your heart with a smile.

"For I know the plans I have for you,  says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me." Jeremiah 29:11-13

"Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of His understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who hope in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:28:31
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