A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

eve and papa

My mother caught this moment with her phone yesterday and it has stirred tremendous emotion within me from the moment I first laid eyes on the photo.

The man’s face in the photo is my father.  When he died in March the funeral director took a great photo my mom had of my father and she and had it made into a tapestry.  My mom has the tapestry placed on the back of her couch in the center of her home with dad’s face exposed very prominently. The photo of my father was a priceless photo that caught the true essence of the person he was on this earth.  It captures the Christ-like love and joy that poured from his eyes and his life.  It captures the expression he would have had if he were actually there holding his precious little grand daughter.

That day my sweet four year old niece was not feeling well.  My mom cared for her while my sister and brother-in-law were at work.  First they were at my sister’s home and decided to watch the video of pictures of my father from his funeral.  One of my mother’s greatest concerns has been that her grandkids have not had the opportunity to express their grief as his death was such a surprise.  At the time we were all focused on our own personal loss of him.  Grief is different for us all, but we all feel the loss no matter our age or the amount of years spent with the one we love.  Evelyn only had four short years and it is important to us all that she and all the grandkids get to know what an amazing Godly man their Papa was.  Shoot I had 41 years and I still feel like the time was cut way too short.  My mother had 44 1/2 years of marriage to him and longs to have had more time.

Mom and sweet Evelyn then went to my mother’s house for some lunch and to watch a movie.  Evelyn had spent a lot of time there with Papa watching movies and eating popcorn. It was after the movie my mom caught this moment.  She said Evelyn was hugging and had been actually rubbing her hand along my father’s face.  Torn, she decided to go ahead and take a picture of the moment.  The longing in Evelyn’s eyes is priceless.  It makes my heart hurt all over again for our loss.  This picture of Evelyn reflects what is happening with this little girl that is still inside of my 41 year old body.  There are days that I still want to hug my daddy’s face.  There are moments that I want his advice or to just take a long walk looking at God’s creation with him.  Evelyn’s expression doesn’t just capture the emotion of our family, but of all people hurting and missing a loved one.   No matter who we are there is still a sweet little 4 year old within us all that longs for that fatherly love.

Many of us may never get to know the love of a earthly father like I was so blessed with.  This is not a bragging statement, but an acknowledgment of the fact that having a loving father is truly a gift.  More and more are without father’s on this earth.  Ever wonder why the earth is growing more and more evil?  There is a tremendous shortage of loving daddies out there.

This picture brings out the emotion of gratitude within me as well as my grief.  Gratitude for an amazing father and for the time I did have with him on earth.  Also a deeper gratitude for what God did for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross so that we have the opportunity to no longer be separated from our loving Heavenly Father, God, by our sins.  You see no matter what we are dealt in this life, an absentee dad, an abusive dad, or a good dad we all actually have a loving Father.  God longs for our love and He is always waiting with open arms.  He gave us freewill because He wants us to long for Him as well.   To have a relationship means both parties desire to have that closeness and love.  God sent Jesus to bridge the gap that our sin causes so that we can curl up into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father, God.  It is moments of pain like missing my earthly father so much that I feel the presence of God so deeply.  He gives me eternal perspective and fills my heart with such joy, peace, love, and compassion for this world I live in.  All attributes that don’t flow from me they are only attributes that come from a perfect, Holy, almighty, all-powerful, creator, God.

I am also reminded that for the follower of Jesus death is not the end.  It is the beginning of true life.  I can say with BOLD confidence that I know for sure my father is in heaven.  I can say with BOLD confidence that I know I will one day be there too and see my dad again.  Oh how amazing that day will be to get to thank Jesus face to face for giving LIFE!!!!

Powerlessness

solar-storm
This blog post is coming from a variety of recent experiences all coming together to give one word “powerlessness”. The last couple of days I have taught Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS). The first time teaching since my dad passed in March. I have spent the majority of my 19 years as a nurse in the critical care arena and have been certified in ACLS around 18 of these 19 years. Even with the knowledge and experience we just can’t save everyone. The details of the attempted resuscitation of my father and his hospitalization experience from his surgery have been hard to suppress from my mind. Knowing something was wrong after my father’s surgery to remove his cancer and not being able to pinpoint it or fix it myself has left me with an even greater sense of powerlessness in this life. No matter what our profession we are all limited by our human capabilities, experiences, and what minute amount of knowledge we have obtained. As a healthcare worker I am merely a tool that God uses at times to work His miracles or to bring comfort to others.

In the state of Illinois we are required to pay a fee for an annual sticker for any licensed vehicle driven or pulled along the roads. I had gone to our local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to purchase our stickers. As I waited in line two older men were having a very loud conversation about women. One of the men loudly bragged that he was going to get him a twenty year old. The other man said “Whew, I don’t want no twenty year old.” The first man replied “I got enough money I can get me a twenty year old.” In this moment I was very thankful for technology as I just kept looking down at my phone not wanting to make eye contact with either man. My eyes always give me away. It was hard to stifle my smile and giggle as I thought “Really…” and then “Be careful what you wish for buddy. The kind of love you have to buy usually is not worth having and comes with an even greater price.” When I did sneak a glance at the twenty year old seeker I observed a man maybe about five foot seven inches in stature. He was probably sixty to one hundred pounds overweight. His hair was thinning and his shirt was unbuttoned nearly to his navel revealing thick curly black chest hairs. My eyes had to quickly look at my phone and stay there because even if I could manage to keep from smiling I knew my eyes would not. The word “powerless” came to mind again. His money and arrogance are not enough to hide the fact that he is powerless to life’s normal aging process.

Our lives these days seem to continuously be inflicted by the dreadful diagnosis of cancer. It seems nearly daily another friend or loved one is being diagnosed or having a cancer scare. My fourteen year old daughter had read the book “The Fault in our Stars” and desperately wanted to see the movie. Being certain that I have met my quota for tears in the year of 2014 I didn’t particularly want to cry anymore. Of course doing what mother’s do I took her to see it anyway. It is a beautiful story and now I need to take the time to read the novel. One word that kept coming to mind during the movie was “powerless”. We are powerless to cancer. Even with all the man-made medicines and tests we are powerless to cancer and so many other diseases.

As I continue to think about this word “powerless” I keep thinking more and more of the one who is Power. Not has power or is powerful. He is power. God spoke the earth, the heavens, and life into being. With just one word He can create or destroy. The more I realize how “powerless” I am on my own the more I realize the greatness of the power of Almighty God. It is through God’s power and wisdom that I can do anything of importance.

Jeremiah 10:12 “But God made the earth by his power;
He founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.”

1 Chronicles 29:11 “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”