Got a call on January 25th that my Dad was admitted to the hospital… By the end of the weekend, we learned they found cancer and that it was also in his lymph nodes. UNEXPECTED.
Prayers began as we asked the Lord for wisdom. Started searching for flights to head to Arizona. Learned unofficial diagnosis was pancreatic cancer and more tests were done in order to receive a prognosis the following week.
Made arrangements for Mike and I to go together, leaving the boys to man-the-farm and Grandma & Grandpa’s outdoor wood-burner. Lined up help from friends to assist the boys when needed… UNEXPECTED.
Never dreamed in a million years Mike would be able to come with me: UNEXPECTED… but thankfully, God is bigger than my expectations…
Once my Dad’s discomfort was eased, he began to feel better. Told the doctor he thought it unnecessary to remain in the hospital because he didn’t like sitting around feeling sorry for himself – that he felt better when he could keep busy… Doctor agreed. Released him 1-31. UNEXPECTED.
Mike and I flew in late on 2-1. My brother was supposed to pick us up, but was so sick he couldn’t get out of bed for three days. Virus… UNEXPECTED.
Instead got picked up by my Dad and Uncle Jack. Dad looked like Dad – though perhaps tired. UNEXPECTED.
What did I expect? Well, I guess I don’t know… But since I was expecting to see him in a hospital bed, I suppose I thought he’d be too weak to “be Dad”. But he wasn’t. And I was glad. This was a comfort – familiar felt good… UNEXPECTED.
Our hotel room number was 322. Kinda cool – have been memorizing Lamentations 3:22-23: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
My Dad has wanted to get Mike out to see the desert ever since he moved out there in 1999. And even though this was an emergency trip & unplanned, Dad wanted to show Mike his favorite sights… UNEXPECTED.
Internal battles began… We didn’t come out for a vacation… Our funds were/are limited… Money in savings is for the next few months’ bills, right? Aren’t we going to look irresponsible to those around us? Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
Prayers were answered and we were filled with peace at allowing my Dad to do what he wanted. He took us to see his good friend, Chuck – wanted Mike to meet him. Enjoyed listening to these guys share hunting memories and past stories… Drove us to grocery stores so he could buy us our “weird” health foods, lol. He wouldn’t let us buy anything that wasn’t a “good price” – he knew the bargains, lol. He and Uncle Jack bought food for a Superbowl feast & cooked for us. UNEXPECTED.
On Monday, Dad took us to his work to file for future time off. Met some of his co-workers and boss, and felt their compassion as they wished my Dad well. So many unanswered questions. Everything hinging on Thursday’s appointment with the oncologist. It was only Monday. It was touching to see everyone’s genuine concern for my Dad.
Then we headed to Uncle Jack’s property. The three men moved cacti as excavation was to begin the next day. Dad was so happy he could bring “the farmer” to the desert, and Mike was excited he got to play in the dirt. Ended the jaunt with a visit to my Dad & Uncle Jack’s favorite local hangout: Greasewood Flats. Heard stories of fun times they shared together. UNEXPECTED.
Tuesday came. My brother, Mark, was still sick, but getting better. Dad said we could borrow his truck to take my Mom to a doctor appointment, so Mark wouldn’t have to. The week before, she had had foot surgery. This appointment led to x-rays at a nearby hospital, and then back to the doctor’s office. 7 hours. Thankful we could help my brother, and were able to help my Mom, too. UNEXPECTED.
Returned to Dad to find he had spent the afternoon cooking ribs and veggies for dinner for us. UNEXPECTED.
By evening, Mark was well enough to have us over. Got to spend time with him & my Mom, and Mike finally got to meet our 7-year-old niece, Abbi. What a joy! Loved watching Mike play kitchen & color with her! Was fun learning Abbi associates Auntie Dawn with sewing, lol… She wanted to learn how to crochet, so we finger crocheted a bit, and played a game. UNEXPECTED.
Wednesday came. First Dad wanted us to meet a bartender friend of his. He said she liked to eat naturally like us, had told her about us, and she wanted to meet us. She offered to make him organic tonics while he did cancer treatments. This was the first I’d heard of him even being interested in trying something “alternative”, so it was fun to meet her and talk with her. Next my Dad wanted to take Mike to a “real” Mexican place for lunch… Followed by a trip to Cabelas. He started complaining of heartburn, and jokingly blamed it on the onions from lunch. He didn’t want to go back home… Said he was ok. Seemed ok. Took us to Lee Air Force base where we watched fighter jets practice. Joked with other spectators, and was “normal Dad”.
Returned to Dad’s place, and we talked about “tomorrow” – Thursday. The oncologist appointment. The hard stuff. What his wishes were. Those questions that are hard to ask, and that I was afraid to ask. It was an emotional conversation because he acknowledged his struggles… But it was beautiful, too, because he shared with me that even though his life may not have looked like it, he truly did believe… And the rest is between his heart and the Lord… There are no words to express how thankful I am we had that talk… UNEXPECTED.
Left Dad for the day with plans of meeting him in the morning for his appointment. Got back to the hotel – only a 10 minute drive. Walked into our room & my Dad’s roommate called in a panic asking us to come back. Dad wasn’t well. He called 911. I called Mark. We got there to find EMS working on Dad. No pulse. Mark & I followed to ER. Mike stayed at the house to finish with the police follow-up. Minutes later, I had to state my Dad’s wishes to the hospital staff. It hadn’t even been 2 hours since he told me what he wanted/didn’t want! I’m so grateful my brother and I were there together… UNEXPECTED.
A woman appeared to help us find a secluded room. I thought she was a volunteer. I just wanted to pray with Mark. Everything just seemed so unbelievable… This lady didn’t leave. So I asked her if she minded if we prayed. I was expecting to pray… But before I could speak, SHE PRAYED!! She SPOKE SCRIPTURE!! And I immediately felt the Lord lifting me up as His Words fueled every fiber of my being. Filled me with hope and comfort and composure. And kept me together as we waited for Mike to join us and to see Dad, one last time. UNEXPECTED.
It wasn’t until awhile later that I learned this lady was the hospital’s chaplain, lol… And then Mike shared how he prayed the Lord would send me comfort while we were separated. HE did!
So Dad didn’t make it to Thursday. So unbelievable: He didn’t make it to Thursday… UNEXPECTED. How ironic. “Tomorrow” was the day we were supposed to find out about how much time he had left, but he didn’t make it past “today”…
Can’t help but think about my last blog post. A post where I am mourning the loss of a trip we planned and couldn’t take. And now I see why. The Lord had a different trip in mind, with far greater implications… The lesson is the same, and I am in awe of how He prepares us for what is to come…Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16 NIV)
YES, LORD, I hear You! I pray I will move forward with a passion to be grateful for each moment I am in. Help me to stop placing my hope in tomorrow so that I don’t miss the opportunities that are right in front of me! Thank You so much for prompting me to have that last conversation with my Dad! Use my story to impress on others how precious the moment is that we are in, and not to assume there is more time! If you are reading this post, I pray you have heard the message of salvation that is ONLY available through Jesus Christ… That you have not only heard it, but understand it, and have accepted the gift of His sacrifice so you can spend your eternity in Heaven. And that if you already know this, but know someone who needs to hear it, TELL THEM – DON’T WAIT!! There are no guarantees there will BE tomorrow… WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us. I pray that you know there is a difference between practicing religion and having a relationship with Jesus. The Lord knows our hearts and motivations – and we cannot DO anything to work our way to Heaven. That it is between our heart and the Lord – we must each recognize we are sinners, and that we NEED Jesus. I pray for more people to repent of their sins, and live lives for Him. When that happens, we become a child of God, and His Spirit will live inside us. And because He then lives inside us, HE IS NEVER LATE… What appears as a mystery to us, is not to Him. He never leaves us or forsakes us. And His love endures forever… Amen
We extended our stay from Friday to Monday. The airlines waived the $600 fee!! UNEXPECTED.
To say these days are a blur, would be an understatement. At the drop of a hat, I cry. I can’t seem to control my emotions. I’m having a hard time believing this is real. One minute Dad was with me and then he was just…gone. I mourn for all those who will miss him. I mourn for the missed opportunities I had to have deeper conversations with him, but didn’t. But I mourn with Hope… With a renewed passion to share Christ-in-me more… Hard to type as well. Probably rambling too much and not in complete sentences. But for me, writing this is therapeutic. A record of these past 9 days. I really don’t want to forget all these details… I’m healing as I walk. And I am content with however long that is for me…
Just to journal the last of our trip: Thursday was spent learning about death certificates and how our culture profits from death. Probably good info to know for the future, but it is a bit of a shock to take it all in. We accomplished what we could and now have to wait on paperwork before we can proceed any further. UNEXPECTED.
Ended the evening with Mark & Abbi coming out to swim at our hotel. A nice way to relax after a tense and difficult day.
Friday, my brother needed to work, so Mike and I had a day to ourselves. A much needed time of rejuvenation. I know Dad would have wanted that, and that thought brought us relief as we experienced the beauty of Arizona that my Dad loved so much. We (tried to) climb Camelback Mountain, lol, but realized we were “out of our league” as runners sped past us at breakneck speed while we stopped to breathe and guard our steps to avoid any injuries… We were completely ok with our “peak” being 2/3 of the way up the mountain, lol.
Next we tried to find some baseball spring training baseball fields… We found some, but we were a day or two early.
We had two people tell us about climbing Pinnacle Peak. So we headed there next. It was soooo much more our style!! A not-too-aggressive climb, and the views were spectacular!!
Uncle Jack ended up meeting us there and we enjoyed another trip to his property to see the excavation progress. It was an emotional visit, since just four days earlier we were there with my Dad. He loved the backdrop of western movies, and loved living near the mountains and desert. But most of all, he loved sharing it with family and friends…
That night my brother and Mom had us out for an enormous Chinese dinner. I am still full, lol…
Saturday we found some souvenirs for the boys and then met Mark at my Dad’s house to clean out his stuff. My Dad was a simple guy, so there was only a room and some boxes to go through. Found some items to keep, and passed the rest on to others. Dad would have wanted that…
Enjoyed pizza and a movie night with Mark, Abbi, and my Mom.
Spent Sunday morning sorting through all my Dad’s personal files. Wanted to try to organize things and sort everything to make it easier for Mark to handle after we left.
Experienced a beautiful morning of worship at Trinity Bible Church. A message the Lord had prepared perfectly for us… EXPECTED!
Spent a final afternoon with Mark, Abbi, and my Mom, and then met up with my Dad’s two brothers who flew in this week to help Mark.
Saturday afternoon, we went back to the bar my Dad took us to on Wednesday. I wanted to shake the hands of some of his friends, and thank them in-person for being a friend to my Dad. Only saw a few, but that’s ok. It was something I felt strongly about doing, and I will continue to pray for his friends – both the ones I met and the ones I didn’t…
After a meal with my uncles and cousin, Mike and I headed back to our hotel to pack for the morning. We were up at 4am and found our way to the airport with only a couple wrong turns, lol.
Several waves of emotion have swept over me as we watched the mountains fade away from above. A bittersweet departure. I pretty much typed the whole 6 hours we flew – plus most of the day yesterday and today…
When we began this journey, we meditated on the words to this song by Casting Crowns: Jesus, Friend Of Sinners. Click here to read the words. And click here to watch/hear a video.
And the prayers that have been lifted up as we found moments to txt/email updates, have been felt and received with overflowing thanksgiving!!
Dear Heavenly Father, there is no doubt in my mind that YOU paved the way for this trip to happen. YOU laid the groundwork for us to be able to leave when we did. YOU saw to it that I wouldn’t have to experience this by myself – YOU used Mike to carry me when I needed support. YOU prepared our boys to handle the responsibilities back at home…the hours of bringing hay to cows, thawing waterers, plowing snow, shoveling snow, continuing their schooling, and all this while they also grieved the loss of their Grandpa. YOU orchestrated all the helping hands who pitched in whenever and wherever needed. YOU blessed Mike and I with four wonderful days to be with my Dad before he died. YOU stabilized us when we realized we couldn’t control our situations. YOU used the foods, oils, and herbs we brought to keep our immune systems strong when we were surrounded by bad viruses and bacterias. YOU opened doors for us when we asked. YOU prompted us to share our testimonies at the perfect times. YOU gave us YOUR words when our own were inadequate. YOU gifted us with time to build new relationships and add onto old ones. YOU encouraged us through hymns, songs, and spiritual songs. YOU sustained us with YOUR daily bread, and used the prayers of fellow Believers to strengthen us to persevere. YOU helped us to love, when we wanted to judge – and are enabling us to see all people as having been made in YOUR image. YOU forgave us when our words or actions caused pain, and we cried out to YOU. YOU allowed others to see Jesus in us, and are compelling us to be more bold for YOUR GLORY.
We are overwhelmed when we think about all the ways YOU provide for us, and our trust is in YOU as we put one foot in front of the other. I have comfort in knowing that YOU are in control during all the “unexpectednesses”. YOU have used us to scatter seeds of YOUR love and mercy – and we desperately pray for the growth of those seeds. That we will not grow weary in doing good, so that at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Amen
2 Samuel 22:2
2 Chronicles 7:14
Psalm 55:16-17; 62:2; 107:1; 118:1; 119:11, 49-50, 71, 105, 130, 133, 169-176; 136; 139:1, 23-24
Matthew 5:14-16; 6:9-13, 19-21; 13:1-23
Luke 9:1-5; 23:40-43
John 1:12-13; 3:16-18; 8:32; 9:1-5; 14:6
Romans 1:18-20; 5:1-5, 8; 7:14-25; 8:26-38; 10:5-15; 12:9-13; 13:11-14; 14 all; 15:4-6, 13; 16:17-18
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
2 Corinthians 7:10
Galatians 6:2, 9
Ephesians 2:8; 3:20, 5:19-20
James 1:2-3, 5-6; 4:11-12; 5:7-11
2 Peter 3:8
1 John 1:8-10; 4:4-6