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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

If you had told me in January of this year that today would be so full of joy that my heart would overflow and I could hardly keep the smile from my face as we drove home from church, I would have rolled my eyes and said in a sarcastic tone, “Yeah right…”.

Let me back up…here is a run-down of 2012…My cousin, John, passed away from stomach cancer in January. Blane graduated from high school, changing my life as a mom. My dad passed away in June. We moved Blane to college two weeks later. In August the wife of Freddo’s co-worker died; she had become my friend over that last year and a half of her life, and we were there when she passed away…bringing with it all the sights and sounds of my dad’s death… In November a very close friend of mine died. I went to see her on Friday. She couldn’t respond to me, but when I told her I had to go and prayed with her, and that I would be back the next day, she got restless and started making noises for the first time since I had been there…if only I had known that she would pass away the next morning…I would never have left…

All through this process I spent time each day searching for gifts, and I journaled them. Honestly, this daily moment by moment act and praise music were like my life lines through the dark days. I knew God was there, but because of the pain my heart was in, I couldn’t see Him, or feel Him. (I recently learned that “feeling” my way to God is not biblical.) I developed a very discouraged and rebellious attitude. I didn’t care much about anything. I struggled to find joy in each day and I still laughed and smiled upon occasion, but I felt lost.

In December of 2013 Bob’s dad was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma and was given “months” to live. In January of 2014 we moved into their home to assist in his daily caregiving needs and stayed with them until a week after he passed away at the end of March.  In February Freddo and I resigned all of our “positions” of ministry at our church, since we didn’t know how long this would go on. Our hearts were so sad and discouraged, and yet we KNEW we were right where God intended us to be.

I learned so much during this time! One thing was… that a few clothes, my own pillow, my tablet, my Bible, a book called “Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl”, and my hubby was really all I needed from home. We have always tried to live a “simple” life, but this really was simple. I recall thinking, “All that stuff at our house, all the decorations, the dishes, the clothes, jewelry, furniture, tv, etc., none of it means anything.” I guess God really changed my heart about our possessions during that time. Now, to be honest, I still struggle with contentment, and I think I always will to some degree, but there had been a definite shift in my thinking.

Freddo and I struggled about where God wanted us to worship from here on out. We worshiped with his mom at his folk’s church for some time, and while our hearts were so encouraged by the love and support from their community, we never had a peace that we were to leave our home church. So we decided to go back to “visit” our church. We sure felt on guard during that time, and I can’t tell you the exact Sunday that we knew what God’s plan for us was, but I can say we were convicted during worship one Sunday morning. On our way home we agreed that if we were going to worship at HBC, we were going to get back into serving the Lord there. And that exact week, God opened doors for us that we had never imagined. We decided that we would serve God with our hearts, wholly surrendered to Him, despite the cost.

Today, August 24, 2014, I can tell you that for the first time in a long time, I walked away from a full day of service to the Lord with an overflowing heart, so full of love for His people. It would take a while to go all the joys God blessed me with today, but I do want to testify that God has renewed my heart and healed it. It has been a slow, long, painful process, but I can at this time thank Him for all the pain of these past few years.

If you are discouraged by the trials in your life, let me encourage you to not give up the fight. Seek God. God’s Word says in Psalm 53:2, “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.”  After reading this verse, I realized that I want to be one that God sees who understands and who seeks after Him. Don’t you?

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Gary B. Whitehead, my dad, went on to be with the Lord on June 12, 2012 at 11:35 am. We celebrated his life on June 16th  at 10:30 am. The dates and times are forever etched into my mind. His death affected me much differently than I imagined it would.

I wanted him to be out of pain, as the past several years had been so hard on him. His mind constantly lied to him, because of his Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). And yet, when that moment came to truly let him slip completely into God’s Hands (figuratively), I wanted more than anything to selfishly say NO!! I even whispered in his ear, “I really don’t want you to go like I said before. I am really going to miss you” just before he died.

I found an audio Freddo recorded of Dad while he was talking to one of his friends on the phone back in March of this year. At first I didn’t remember when it had been recorded, but as the call went on everything came back to me.  His pain, his anxiety, his sorrow, his fear, his loneliness, his strength, his faith, how hard it was every time I had to walk in the door wondering what I would find and how incredibly difficult it was to walk away, not knowing what might happen while I was gone…and my eyes leaked a bit as I pondered all of it.

The season of this Lewy Body Dementia disease that God allowed in my dad’s life was where my faith in God was tested…maybe developed is a better word, or perhaps it was both…

Everybody has a “faith developer”, so to speak, in their life. A storm that shakes all that can be shaken to help us to realize what cannot be shaken.  There are many ways to respond to them, not all are healthy.

I asked God over and over not to waste Dad’s disease. I wanted Dad’s trial, which was also our trial, to bring about whatever it was that God desired most in my life. I didn’t want this pain, that was Divinely allowed, to be wasted.

Although within that process that meant I would need to follow Him, trust Him and obey Him with an open hand, through the laughs, the frustration, the fear and the tears.  Looking back I can see God’s Hand all through this journey to joy.

His celebration was such a blessed time. As I look back I am amazed at how God covered us through those days. It was so easy because of God for us to be strong and receive all that came to honor Dad that Friday night, to collect all the pictures, to write his eulogy, to bury him then go back to the church to celebrate his life and worship our Lord. We were blessed to have a couple of family members that were thoughtful enough to snap some shots of his military burial, which is still yet a huge blessing to us.

Last night and today have been more difficult days within this journey; partly due to finding that recording, but also since today they set Dad’s tombstone today. Veteran’s Day was always held in high esteem by Dad, in his honor Mom has pushed to have his tombstone set before November 11th. By God’s grace they were able to get it set today.

I went by today after they were gone. For many days after Dad’s celebration I went and sat beside his grave, read my Bible and prayed. I knew he wasn’t there, but it was the last place I had known his body to be. Somehow going there, sitting, reading, and talking to God there brought me peace. Then it became hard to go there…not really sure why, as I have done my best not to think of why I avoid it. But today, yes today, I forced myself to go, knowing full well that it would bring a fresh reality that I truly cared less to entertain.

A reality set in today that I wished weren’t true. In my mind I knew that my dad’s casket and his physical body were below that dirt, but without his name on a stone above it, somehow I was able to avoid the final feeling that arrived at my heart today. The memories of him are my lifeline most days, having an audio of his laugh and videos of him praying, they keep me smiling despite the longing in my heart to have him back. I have gone back over all that happened in the last 7 years and despite that love that we had and the laughs, I truly would never be so selfish as to want him to come back. He is in heaven now, his every fear, pain and ailment has been alleviated by his sovereign Lord, and that brings me so much peace. He is whole for the first time ever in his life, he is with His Father. Now He has met my only sibling that my parents lost during Mom’s second and last pregnancy. It sure leaves me with a wonderful smile and joy in my heart to think of all Dad is experiencing now…how could I ever want to bring him back?


I decided to attach a link to Dad’s Eulogy for those of you that would like to see it. All you have to do is click on the following links. The eulogy is divided into a Part 1 and Part 2.

 

 

 

 

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