Friday, June 9, 2017


Of all the lessons I've learned since the death of my father, some of them are directly related to that situation and have resulted in peace with my circumstances. However, for other lessons, his death was just the catapult that helped prepare my heart to learn lessons that can be applied to any situation in life. This first lesson is one of those.

One year ago, yesterday, we closed on our very first house. For an entire year before that we lived with my parents (6 months) and Chase's parents (6 months). Though they were very kind, and we appreciated the roof over our heads, it was the roughest year of our marriage. We were pulled at from all sides.

During that time, I came across a book called Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson, author of the blog Scissortail Silk. Everyone who knows me well at all knows that I can read an entire book in one day. I'll be honest though. I still haven't finished this particular book. Not because it was bad, but because it was that good. And I felt like I learned what God was trying to use this book to teach me. For now. :-)

In one particular chapter of the book she is talking about Shardrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3 for full story). In the paragraph that changed my life, she had this to say:

"But when everyone looked inside, they didn't see ashes or smoke. Scripture says that when those on the outside looked into the flames, they saw a fourth man in the fire, and none of them were being burned. Friends, God doesn't promise that we won't walk through fire. But He absolutely promises that when we do, He will be with us."

Y'all. I've always known this. I was raised in a family that some years money for Christmas presents showed up on Christmas Eve. Where a turkey . . . or 3 . . . showed up on Thanksgiving Day when we didn't know where our next meal would come from. Where our car would break down and someone would call - without possibly being able to know our situation - and tell us they'd just bought a car and wanted to just give us their old car. Where my father took his own life and we made it through. God walked with us through every fire we faced. I already knew all of that when I read this particular paragraph in this specific book. That is a good lesson, but I already knew it.

What did I learn?

". . . when those on the outside looked into the flames, they saw a fourth man in the fire . . ."

Everyone around saw the fire these guys were walking through. Everyone around knew what these men were facing. And everyone around saw God in the midst of their literal fire. When I walk through a figurative fire, what do those around me see? Do they see me grieving over my circumstances like the lost (1 Thessalonians 4:13), or do they see a life filled with hope and peace and joy and grace and thankfulness. The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we are to give thanks in ALL things. Is that was people see when they look into my fire, WHATEVER it may be?

When those on the outside look into my flames, do they see a fourth man in the fire? He's there. Do they see Him?


I remember being at work and finding out that he had not come home from his job and wasn't answering his phone. I remember that it was storming and that a friend reassured me everything would be alright. Everything else is a blur. I can remember nothing until we got to his work the next morning. Then it became real. He truly was gone. He really had taken his own life. I remember getting out of the vehicle I was riding in, walking to his car, (with my mom thinking I was heading in to where his body was and screaming for me to stop) and laying my head on the back window with my arms stretched across it, almost like I was hugging it in place of him.

April 25, 2005

It was the darkest day of my life. It was beyond sad. I don't think there is a word for the amount of grief a person feels when their parent dies. Though I can't remember many details of that day and those surrounding it, I'll never forget the way I felt. 20 years old and fatherless.

As the days passed and the months turned into years, the pain subsided and the grief lessened. I was okay. I was doing good. I missed him, sure, but I wasn't grieving anymore. Over the following years a lot of different things happened in my life. Marriage issues, babies in the NICU, being without a home of our own and all the resulting issues surrounding that. I was okay, emotionally, with the past, and I thought I was okay spiritually. Looking back though, I can see that I wasn't. Every situation that came up caused me to question God and His ways. My catchphrase became "I know God CAN do anything, but it doesn't mean He will". He had proven just that when He allowed my daddy to be successful in taking his own life. He had proven that when He sent my babies to the NICU and sent me home without them . . . repeatedly, no matter what I did to prevent it. He proved that when He left us without a home of our own for a year. And then I realized that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't okay. It seemed as if everyone I knew had learned something or gotten closer to God as a result of daddy's death. I didn't. Life went on just as it had before with the exception that daddy wasn't around anymore.

With the 10 year anniversary of his death just around the corner, this realization hit me. So I prayed. I asked God to let this be the year that He taught me. I didn't want his death to be in vain. I didn't learn anything that year. But God began teaching me, though I didn't see it then. I saw pain and heartache. God saw teaching moments. It was kinda like when a person prays for patience and then everything seems to go wrong. God's giving opportunities for patience. It was the same for me. I didn't see the end result (I could safely argue that I won't until Heaven!) before the 10 year anniversary. I did start seeing the beginning of the answer to that prayer though.

It has now been a little more that 12 years since that awful day in April. But y'all. I have learned so much. There is no way to put it all into one post. I want to share it though. It's trying to burst out of my chest. I feel like I shouldn't rest until I get it all out. And I'm going to. But pray for me. Pray that God will help me put it into words that make sense. There are so many lessons and so many backstories that I can't seem to get them all in order in my head. Pray for organized thoughts. And pray that Satan will stay away and not "sift [me/my family] like wheat" (see Job 1) as I share what God is showing me.

This journey has been long and hard and filled with lots of pain and tears, but as my friend told me the night we couldn't find my dad, everything is alright. And I wouldn't change one second of the past 32 years for one. single. thing. God is in control. He is holding every bit of this world in His hand. He has planned this life. And everything is more that alright. It is perfect.