I’ve never fully understood redemtption until my father took his own life.

 

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If you’ve never seen redemption, this is what it looks like.

I’ve never fully understood redemption until my father took his own life. What I thought he stole from us that day turned out to be a gift.
Because he made the choice to leave us behind on that rainy Monday, this precious little girl now lives in my home.

My husband and I have been given the gift of parenting my teenage sister. We’ve been blessed with loving her through her pain and watching as the corners of her mouth gradually sneak up to her cheeks to form a smile.

Her story was set to be told by a very different narrator.
The road she traveled on was rough terrain.

But redemption came that day.

God’s redeeming my story by allowing me to parent her in the absence of our father.
God’s redeeming her story by allowing her to get a daily glimpse of our father through my eyes.

If you’ve never seen redemption, this is what it looks like.

How a simple drink order completely wrecked my world.

We decided on a breakfast date before our appointment and headed to the best pancake house in our city (shout out to Magnolia pancake Haus!). While we patiently waited for our table, we told each other the most immature jokes we knew and giggled like we were both 16. Toilet humor is our favorite and we each told our best potty jokes. I may or may not have spoken in a British accent half of the time.

Her phone buzzed, letting us know that our table was ready, and we both shot off the waiting bench and almost knocked each other down trying to get to the table the quickest. I won because I outweigh her by a million pounds and she’s easy to push out of my way.

By the time we settled in our seats the conversation had somehow made a dramatic flip and we found ourselves sitting with serious faces. We talked about depression, addiction and how suicide totally sucks for those left behind. We couldn’t decide if we were sad or mad that our dad hadn’t taken us into consideration before taking his own life but we could both agree that it’s wrecked our worlds. Her world was wrecked at the sweet young age of 12, mine at 36.

The waitress approach in the middle of the thick and asked for our drink order.

Black coffee for me.

My sister asked for coffee and a chocolate milk.

That’s when my heart was torn in two, much like her drink order.

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The kid in her craved an ice-cold glass of chocolate milk, the kind we all cherished as kids.  I remember dumping heaping spoon full of Nestles Quick into my milk and stirring as fast I could, trying to get it all down before the remaining undissolved powder settled to the bottom.

My sister is a child. She was born when I was 23 yet my silliness and immaturity brings us to the same age. We overrule the fact that I’m old enough to be her mother and treat each other like sisters. She giggles like a kid, does crafts with her nieces and stays up late at night sharing secrets with my oldest daughter.

My sister is just a little girl. She likes her chocolate milk as cold as ice.

The adult in her likes her coffee hot with a side of cream. She needs the morning boost. It’s sometimes hard for her to face her day and she needs a cup of grace to get her through. She’s not like other kids her age. She’s seen more storms and treaded through taller weeds. She’s delicate when she pours her cream. It’s like sweet therapy.  I like my coffee black. I prefer nothing come between me and the fresh brewed goodness.

My sister is an adult child. She was born when I was 23 yet her boldness and maturity brings us to the same age. We have to sometimes remind ourselves that I’m old enough to be her mother and help her make choices only an adult is capable of. She spends hours in her room alone, painting with methodical strokes. She meets once a day with adults who have faced life in a similar way that she has.

My sister is walking a fine line on a fast track to adulthood. She likes her coffee hot with a swirl of sweetness.

My heart is torn in two for her. I want her to be a child. I want her to have a milk mustache that I have to tell her to wipe off. I want to correct her homework, fold her clothes, cook her dinner and watch her play in the yard. I want her to just be a kid but she can’t, the world has messed that up for her. The world has stolen from her, beat her up and knocked her down. But she’s got a little fight in her. She’s got resistance and spunk. She’s a little bit of a princess and a whole lot of a warrior.

My sister like her chocolate milk cold and her coffee hot and that shatters my heart into a million pieces.

I’ll always fight to keep the little in our kids. We’ve become a society that expects them to grow up so quickly, turning our little girls into teenagers long before their time. Turning our teenagers into adults extremely prematurely. Giving miles where we should only give inches. Letting go when we should covet just a little longer.

There’s no rush.

Let’s let them be kids, play with dolls, have bare faces and natural hair, unadorned with jewels and covered in age appropriate clothes. Let’s let them stay small and allow them the joys of just being a kid.

Let’s pray that their drink order stays an ice-cold chocolate milk for as long as we can.

Let’s keep the little in our kids.

I Choose.

I choose

“Wake up, get out of bed. Pull those covers across your head”
The sheets would come flying off of us as we yelled at him to stop.

My dad loved to irritate us and loudly waking us up in the morning was his favorite thing to do. It was most rewarding to him when we had friends spend the night and he got to mess with them too.

He would insist that we get up and eat breakfast. There was always a skillet of sausage and eggs ready to go by the time we shuffled our way in to the kitchen. Lots of orange juice, he loved orange juice.

Even though my friends didn’t want to wake up with the roosters and my dad, they thought he was so cool and would laugh at his morning song. They always thought it was cool that he would cook for us and want to hang out with us.

Not me, I was just mad.

I’m not a morning person, never have been never will be. That’s why I get up an hour before my family and have my cup of coffee. It’s for their own safety.

What I didn’t know back in those days was that my dad wasn’t getting up early, he had never gone to bed.

He was an addict.

He was addicted to ….well everything.

He wouldn’t just wake us up to eat sausage and eggs in the morning, he would wake us up in the middle of the night and drive us around in his stolen car for hours. He would wake us up in the middle of the night to sit in the kitchen and talk to him. He was high and needed someone to hang out with, that’s where we came in. He was addicted to drugs, money, cars, women and anything else the devil offered up on a silver platter. He lived in 100 different houses and several different cells.

I’ve spent most of my adult life being angry at him.
I’ve spent many months being bitter.
I’ve spent weeks crying in abandonment.
I’ve spent days pretending not to care.
I’ve spent hours wishing ill will on him.

It took me only one minute to forgive him.

About four months before he took his life I wrote him a two page email. I hadn’t spoken to him in 10 years. I let him know that I had forgiven him and I begged him to create a better relationship with my younger siblings than the one he had created with me. I begged him to do right by them. I begged him not to make my 12-year-old little sister search for the love and acceptance of a man the way that I had.

His exact response:
“Thanks for the letter and thanks for the forgiveness”

I’ve never heard from him again and never will.

Never.

I wish I could rewrite that email.
It might go a little more like this.

Dad,
I’ll empty my bank account and hand it over to you if you come over and play with my kids just once.
I’ll search the streets, buy a bag of cocaine and give it to you if you sing that stupid morning song to them just once.
I’ll steal a car for you if you make a skillet of sausage and eggs for my girls to taste just once.
I’ll do anything dad if you would just give them one moment, one good memory, one kiss, let them run to you and wrap their arms around your neck just one time.
Just one little moment dad.
I truly, honestly forgive you. I forgive it all.
Your daughter.

I get to make a choice, that’s the beauty of our lives. I get to make a choice how I tell my daughters about their grandpa. I get the choice how I tell my stories about him or what stories I don’t tell. I can choose to start growing that seed of what becomes bitterness and hate by planting in them stories to crush their hearts. I can make them hate him.

I won’t.

I get to make that choice.
I won’t hold on to the memories that make me sad.
I won’t hold on to the memories that bring up anger.
I won’t hold on to the memories that disgust me.

I’ll tell my little girls about the time there was a horse harnessed to a tree outside of our house on Christmas morning.
I’ll tell them how he would keep the car slowly rolling while we were trying to get in and laugh hysterically as we trotted next to the car.
I’ll tell them how he would hand us a $20 bill, let us go wild in the convenience store and tell us to keep the change.

I get a choice.
I can be happy or sad
I can forgive or carry a grudge.

I’m going to be happy. I’m going to forgive. I’m going to let go.

I’m going to wake my little girls up today by pulling the covers off of them and singing
“Wake up, get out of bed. Pull those covers across your head”.

You have a choice.
You can let it go or you can crush beneath it.
You can put it away or pass down.

You can forgive.
You can.
Forgive.

Let’s Pray

Merciful Father thank you for giving us a choice. We can follow your son or try to create our own way. I choose You. I choose to follow Jesus. When we get off track gently help us refocus on what truly matters. You did not design us to be angry, sad or weighed down and sometimes we need help remembering that. Help us to leave a legacy of love and forgiveness and to not pass down the trials. Be our guide, our light and our path. In Jesus name, amen.

 

You Make Beautiful Things Out Of The Dust- Thanks Be To God

I wanted to thank each of you for the sweet comments and messages that I received yesterday and today. I thought that over these few days I was going to be reminded of the sadness of my dads death but instead I was remind of the good in people. God remains good and faithful. He has made beauty out of ashes and for that I am forever grateful. My husband blessed me today with a new bible and wrote a beautiful message for me inside, my kids have reminded me of the innocence of faith and my friends have showered me with love and support. I’m not sure what I have done to deserve such an abundance of mercy and grace but I know that I am blessed. Thank you. God is so super cool.

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Today, Tomorrow Or The Day After That.

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“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6 – 7

365 Days

Today can make me bitter or today can make me better.

My dad committed suicide a year ago today. Maybe it was a year ago tomorrow or maybe the day after that. I will never know.

His death certificate reads “date found” instead of date deceased or date died, whatever they put on there. No one knows when he actually did it. It’s kind of haunting.

The last time anyone heard from him was on the 5th and that is also the day he shopped for his own noose at Home Depot. I know this because of the receipt that was in his pocket when he died.

They didn’t find him until the 7th and we were not told until the 8th.

It’s going to be a long few days for me.

Beauty From The Ashes

I’ve had some anxiety about this day arriving for the past few months. I have kept that to myself for the most part.

Then I started receiving notes from my friends, little reminders that they were praying for me and that they love me. Most of these notes were from friends that I have gained through W3 or friendships that have been renewed or strengthened through W3.

They started to do their work on me.

They started to change me.

Today, Tomorrow Or The Day After That

I’m not going to be sad today,  tomorrow, or the day after that. I’m not going to repeat that eulogy in my head. I’m not going to picture my father on the floor of that bathroom. I’m not going to dwell on Home Depot, a bag of shirts, a death certificate, the phone call from my brother, a cross in the middle of nowhere or a single moment of my past with my dad.

I am going to give thanks for every blessing that God has poured out onto me over the past year.

Thank you God for W3 and letting me have words to put down. Thank you for giving this to me.
Thank you God for renewed friendships, new friendships and changed friendships.
Thank you God for the peace, grace and mercy you have given to me.
Thank you God for the crazy faith that you have filled me with and the fire you have ignited inside me.
Thank you God for giving me the ability to know and show true forgiveness.
Thank you God for the cross and what it means to me now.
Thank you God for letting my dad walk through your gates and to your feet.
Thank you God for any life that you have allowed me to touch through your W3 ministry.

Today is not the anniversary of my dads suicide, neither is tomorrow or the day after that.

Today is the anniversary of my renewed life and faith in Gods ultimate plan.

If he died a year ago today or tomorrow or the day after that, it doesn’t matter. He is in heaven and it doesn’t matter when he got there. It doesn’t matter what was in his pocket or where he went that day. It doesn’t matter what his death certificate says or where his ashes remain.

What matters is what comes after. It matters what I do with it today, tomorrow and the day after that.

Today can make me bitter or today can make me better.

Let’s pray

Merciful Father thank you for the sacrifice of your son so that even someone like my dad can spend eternity in heaven praising your great name. Thank you for giving us enough grace that all we have to do to be able to enter your kingdom is to believe in your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for forgiving our sin no matter how big or small. Thank you for forgiving us and giving us the ability to forgive others. Thank you for writing my name in the palm of your hand right next to my dads name. In Jesus name, amen.

Dad,

I pray that you are rested and renewed in your new home in heaven. You are forgiven here on earth just like you are forgiven there with our Savior. I hope that your home in heaven is the mansion that you always wanted and that the closets are filled with snake skin boots, Polo style short sleeved shirts, 1000 pairs of Levi jeans, a pair of bright white tennis shoes and a super comfortable bath robe. I pray that God has supplied you with a barber that knows how to cut your hair in a way that that says “business in the front, a party in the back”. I pray that all the TVs in your home play images of your kids and grandkids and that you finally have a chance to see who we have become. I pray that God gave you the voice of an angel and that when you sing His great name in praise, the beauty that comes out of your mouth surprises even you.  Sing dad.

I love you.

Your daughter.

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