Jan 24, 2017  That smile

Hello my love.

It’s been a while since I last wrote. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to write about, I was just trying to avoid the pain. It’s been dark, so dark the last few weeks. Winter, cold, snow, holidays…my spirit suffered tremendously. I didn’t want to do anything except sleep. I even thought my faith was failing there for a second.

Psa 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation

Yes, why?  I mean, I know why, I am so down, but why Am I not finding reprieve in the hopes and promises that anchored my spirit a few weeks ago? I don’t really know, but it helped me out just thinking about why God put that verse in there.

I prayed about it. I don’t remember the specific words, but it was something like, “this is too big for me. Nothing seems to help. I’ll wait for you to bring me out of this…”

Well, my love, a light was lit this Thursday and my spirits were truly lifted when I first saw your little sister, Hannah Claire.  She looks a lot like you. So beautiful.


My spirits were lifted further Friday when Sissy let me know she had just been offered admission to one of her favorite colleges. I was so overwhelmed, I escaped to the bathroom and let the joyful tears flow. I thought to myself, “How can I be so happy without you?” It wasn’t guilt, or regret I felt. I just thought it was impossible to feel that way again, especially now. I see God’s great mercy in the timing of everything. My spirits boosted just enough to carry me through the next two days.

I try my best to tell myself that tomorrow is just one more day standing between you and I, and it too, shall pass. It won’t be easy, it still hurts so much.  I knew it would always hurt, but I’m amazed at just how much it still hurts. I’ll do my best not to dwell and stay focused on taking care of Hannah.

As for the 26th, your birthday, that will be different. I will be sad, I will cry, there’s no avoiding that. But I will find a way to celebrate the great blessing you are to me, remembering your life here and envisioning the day when my eyes open to see the Lord Jesus because I know the very next face I see will be yours.  And every single second we were apart just won’t matter anymore. No more tears. No more death. No more suffering.

 

Right now, Hannah is resting in my arms and I can’t help but look at your picture over the fireplace and feel like that gentle smile is meant just for us in this moment. 

For those that read this, I have a request for Clara’s birthday. Could you please tell me something you love, remember or miss about Clara? It doesn’t have to be much. Katy and I would really enjoy reading them.  Comment here, facebook or send us an email to iloveclaraquinn@gmail.com if you want it to stay private.  Thank you all for reading. God bless. 

I love you Clara. I miss you so much.

Daddy

 

 

Luke Phillips Katy Phillips Clara Phillips

Dec 08,2016

Hello love,

We missed you this Thanksgiving.

We got through the week with the help of some wonderful friends, but it definitely left another scar on our broken hearts. The holidays just intensify the feelings we feel every day. It’s not something we take out and put away for a time, but persistent ache. A longing for times past, absent such pain and sorrow. It’s a constant struggle to be anything other than…sad. Every day, we fight to be something other than sad. To find a “new normal”, whatever that means. It is not “new” anymore, and it is not “normal” either.  At times, it feels like it is Mommy and I versus the world. We should be this, we should do that. We should feel this…and not that. Remember this, not that. Think about it like this, not like that. As if the heart and mind could remain separated for any meaningful length of time. To turn off the pain I would have to disconnect it from the love that fuels it. Maybe a time will come when the two are no longer so strongly connected…maybe…if it’s possible, I look forward to that day.

My heart continues break for Mommy. She desperately wants to feel the same joy and excitement for your little sister ( as do I ), but she seldom has the opportunity to feel one – Joy –  without the other -Sadness.  They seem inseparable. Harmless every day questions become anything but. I bet most people don’t think of the one question she’s asked most.  Daily, sometimes multiple times a day, by cashiers, receptionists, doctors, nurses,  waitresses or outgoing strangers: “Oh, Is this your first?” The other day, I heard it asked three times in a half hour time frame. The first two cut the crutches she managed to prop herself up under this morning and I watched as the third just took her feet out from under her.  My heart fell with her. Everything is so hard now…

There is always a reluctance to answer– how do I want to answer this, a simple “No” always leads to the inevitable follow up questions, but maybe they won’t ask this time. Maybe they’ll let it go when the see my eyes drop to the floor? Nope, they are pressing onward.  Here we go again… – You are too precious to ever go omitted. I tend to fumble through a somewhat scripted response but I cannot script their reply.  God has given me no small amount of grace to hear all kinds of unhelpful words of advice and offer up warm smile as I walk away with a heavy heart. I know their intentions are not to make me (us) feel worse, so I rarely take offense. I should say, there are some thoughtful ones…”I’ll pray for you and your family” or “I’ll never forget her.” Those seem to be the most comforting.

I still struggle heavily with the “God’s plan/purpose/intention/will” remarks. It’s not that I really believe otherwise, it is ever so painfully apparent. My perspective is one that I would never wish to give to anyone. Why did God give it to me?  At times, I’m in danger of thinking that “this” plan is reserved for only someone He does not love anymore. In my heart, I know that isn’t true, but it sure feels that way when I kiss a picture goodnight instead of your soft little cheek. Why you? Why do we have to say goodbye such a beautiful little girl, who had such a genuine love of others woven into her personality. It will be a mystery to me until that day.  There’s story I heard from a pastor I really enjoy listening to, and it’s a childhood story from a Methodist Preacher named W. E Sangster. I won’t go into all of it, but Sangster tells of his only sister, who lived only nine years. That she had  fourteen surgeries in seven of those years, and this poor girl had to be hidden away because her face was so scarred up and her wounds did not heal well.  He would overhear people say, “There is no God” and remarked that others offered hopeless, incompetent and shallow explanations.  He offered only this…”I was dumb as boy, and I am dumb as a man. My answer to these dark problems and questions of why remains the same: ‘I’ll wait till I get Home, and He’ll tell me [Why] Himself!'”

I have to leave that there and move on.  There is something I wanted to tell you about.

I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know about the wonderful memorial your old preschool had for you.  They saw you just about every day for two year and knew exactly how special you were. They have “Hug a friend for Clara” day each month and dedicated this lovely bell to you in the playground.  There was something magnetic about your attitude, your heart, your smile. I feel truly blessed to be your father.

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How is it that I never run out of tears? I bet most don’t think to thank the Lord for the ability to cry, but I think my soul would burst if these tears did not carry the heartache out of my body and onto the ground.

I bet Peter’s call to Jesus, “Lord, Save me!” ( Matt 14:30) sounded much different than mine. But i meant it with no less desperation and I know it was received all the same.

A few months back, a good friend of mine gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. He said, “When you get in a bad spot, focus on Jesus. Who He is. What He did. What he didn’t do. Why he did what he did. Put yourself in His shoes, put yourself in the shoes of those around him. Go back to Jesus”

I’ve done that often, and it has really helped me get through impossible times. That advice has brought me through the gospels a few times. Each time I slow down and think about the details a little more. With each pass it feels more like listening than it does reading and I find myself less captivated by the miracles themselves and more drawn to the one performing them.  Here, I truly think I found what I needed to help me get through all of this, and that is really understanding why I love Jesus. I somehow feel like this is at the core of it all. It’s far too easy to fall into the trap I described above, but it is Jesus that pulls me out each time. I hope I can one day articulate this much better and in far more detail,  but that will have to be a letter for another day.

 

He is never happier than when he is relieving and retrieving the forlorn, the abject, and the outcast. He despises not any that confess their sins and seek his mercy. No pride nestles in his dear heart, no sarcastic word rolls off his gracious tongue, no bitter expression falls from his blessed lips. He still receives the guilty. Pray to him now. Now let the silent prayer go up, “My Saviour, have pity upon me; be moved with compassion towards me, for if misery be any qualification for mercy, I am a fit object for thy compassion. Oh! save me for thy mercy’s sake!” Amen.

Charles Spurgeon: The Compassion of Jesus

Until that day my love,  we miss you Clara

Daddy

 

 

Clara Phillips Luke Phillips Katy Phillips

 

Nov 13, 2016 Last Fall

Hello my love,

We set the clocks back last weekend. Push a few buttons and back it goes. If it were only that easy, to turn back time…. I’d have to go back roughly seven thousand hours to see you. At times, it feels like an eternity has passed since I last held you in my arms, and at times, it feels like it was just yesterday. I still wake up each day a little confused and largely disappointed. I wonder if that feeling will ever pass.

Fall has been tough on me. My memories of you in this house started last fall and an uncomfortable familiarity has settled in around me. The weather, the sounds, the colors, the smells. All of those precious memories now seem to have a stage to perform on.

Remember last Halloween? We had just moved in and didn’t have any decorations to put up outside. You put those beautiful eyes to work and asked me if we could go get some after school. Well, as soon as you got off the bus that afternoon, we left for the dollar store to find some cheapo decorations. We just moved, so the bank account was tapped. We were so late, there was barely any decorations left at the store. We picked though a few things and settled on about $5 worth fake spiders, cobwebs, etc. Once home, we took some time to set everything out, we stretched the fake spider webs across some bushes and around the front columns. It was a fun afternoon and I enjoyed thinking about it just now, but the only part that seems to occupy my mind is the empty promise I made, “We’ll do it better next year sweetie, I promise.” Now, every “scary” house I pass by takes that promise and throws it like a spear into my heart. When does that go away?

There’s a picture of you in a red sweater, taken at the bus stop on 10/26/2015. As much as I love that picture, it brings back the thoughts and feelings of that moment. I felt happy, proud…content. And I want to emphasize that last one. It’s a feeling that I would not associate with ANY other time in my adult life. Mid October 2015 through January 24, 2016 was the happiest I’ve ever been and the happiest I’ll ever be. I do not doubt there will opportunities to be happy again. Sissy, and this little baby mean too much to me for that to be true, but you, my love, are not here to make it (me) feel whole.

I have come to realize, I no longer seek happiness, it’s a fragile ideal and this world is full of sledgehammers. I just want peace, not world peace, although that would be nice to see, but peace for my tired heart. And there is no peace outside acceptance. Acceptance is not just coming to terms with your passing, its meaning is always changing and ever growing. It means accepting: no more hearing “I Love you Daddy”, no more hugs, empty seats at the dinner table, empty bedrooms, empty stockings, no more creating memories, no more wondering what you’ll grow up to be. It means accepting that I am “that guy” and that most will keep me at a distance to avoid their own pain. It means accepting who I was, I will never be again. It means accepting that God will take care of you, because I no longer can. I means accepting that God will take care of me, because I no longer want to.

I’ve struggled a lot with faith over the last few weeks. Did I really take some great leap of faith in choosing to believe? Or was believing in Jesus just a desperate act to convince myself that you are not gone forever? I was convinced that it wasn’t much of an act of faith at all…much like a man does not exercise much faith when he jumps from a burning building onto a giant inflatable device below. It seems like a much better option than sticking around waiting for the fire to go out, or trying to climb down himself. I had convinced myself that anyone would have done what I did. My life, my hopes, my dreams were going up in flames. I had to jump. Right? Yes, but after praying about it and thinking it over A LOT, I came to realize that God didn’t need to give me a safe place to land. I could have looked out and saw nothing. I was so focused measuring my faith that I lost sight of His saving grace. That’s what I need to focus on.

Faith doesn’t help with the pain. There is no mystical feel good energy that helps me cope with your not being here. I’m not even comfortable saying it makes it easier. But what I have found, is through the pain, heartache and suffering; it is Christ that has given me hope. He has also given me compassion for all those who suffer in this world. He has given me patience to help Mommy in her grief (and some much needed help from a few wonderful friends for her to lean on while I’m at work). He has brought me a few moments of peace in the midst of depression and despair where no peace should ever be found. He has given my life meaning, and your life meaning. He has given me the courage to tell our story. And perhaps our story will mean an eternal difference to someone, just as it has for me…

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a]that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:7-14

With all my love,

Until that day….

Daddy

 

 

 

 

 

Clara Phillips Luke Phillips Katy Phillips

October 18,2016 Another long night

My Love,

I had some nice things written down that I was going to share, but yesterday was some kind of awful and I feel compelled to share, or vent. I hope you don’t mind if it turns out to be more of the latter.  I suppose there is no rule saying these letters have to be chronological, I can always finish up what I had started later.

The only good thing about yesterday is that it is over. I didn’t start great, Mommy was feeling particularly discouraged. She’s always upset in the mornings, but some days are far worse than others.  I’ve learned to accept, and even expect that, but it doesn’t make it any less disheartening.  It wears on me, she knows that, but she must grieve as she must.

I made it out the door to work, but left my phone on the couch. That left me alone with my thoughts both to & from work. I’ve yet to turn the radio on when I’m alone in the car. All I can think about is riding around with you, flipping through the music stations, asking: “Keep it, Change it or Turn it up?”

Keep it! And Turn. It. Up!” you’d say with a lighthearted and playful attitude. You love music. Some of my fondest memories with you involve music…dancing, singing, loving life. How the tides have turned.

Work was uneventful, a decent distraction.

When I got home, I noticed our screened in area of the deck had been overtaken by ladybugs, stinkbugs and a handful of wasps. I got some spray to take out the wasps because we like to leave the door cracked for Bella…She likes sitting outside, often in your chair.  I thought you might like this picture…

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Anyways…I sprayed the wasps off the screen but Bella caught on and was going to try and pounce on one. Without hesitation I dashed over to grab her before she got a face full of angry wasp. She’s mostly blind, I’m not sure I’ve mentioned that to you yet…go figure, so I don’t even know if she knew what she was about to play with. Well, I got her in time, but managed to crack my foot on something. The chair I guess. Before I could put her down, I was grunting words I really try my best not to use anymore.

I sat on the couch with a bag of frozen cranberries resting on top of foot when this overwhelming sense of disappointment and shame overtook me. My head sunk lower and lower…my eyes began to swell. Why wasn’t I given an opportunity to give my life for yours?  I wouldn’t have hesitated.  I wouldn’t have hesitated!!!  Instead I had to be there, but not… there!   I’m not going to write about this again for fear it will drag me to a place I’ll never escape.

Somehow, I managed to pull myself up and out of that. I kind of zoned out the rest of the evening, but when it came time to go to sleep my mind wouldn’t turn off. 11 turned to 12, to 1.  By 1:30 or so, I was sitting on the couch in the dark. What to do…I pulled out my phone.

It may as well been a sword.

I wanted to see you. To remember… Picture after picture. Blow after blow I took.  I must have went through a hundred of them.

I went to videos after that.  I wanted to hear your voice. Every word, every smile dealt another blow.  I must have gone through twenty of them.

Why? I knew what I was in for. I couldn’t help it I guess. It had been too long… it HAS been too long…

So, there I lay. Out of breathe, my eyes on fire, my chest bruised, my in stomach twisted in knots.  It felt like someone had beaten me to within an inch of my life. I seriously doubted God’s love.  I felt abandoned. Alone. Confused.

I drifted off to sleep.

This morning, I sat downstairs, drank my coffee and before I knew it, I was writing this out. Now, I hope I don’t say anything to crazy, I did have a pretty rough night and three and a half hours of sleep doesn’t really make for clear thinking.  This is what I wrote…

I can’t help but feel, in some strange way, closer to God this morning. Like I have somehow shared in His pain. I mean that in the most reverent and respectful way. I’m not trying to appear “godly”, nor am I trying to compare myself to God.  I know where I stand there, and that is not at all.  But, shared, in the sense that I’m more respectful…more aware.  

I guess my point is, “…he gave…”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ( John 3:16 )

How many times have I spoken those words with blissful ignorance? Without regard to everything that went with along with the giving. Dare I say them now without reflecting on my own suffering and loss?

Strange how that was the first thing I thought about this morning.  Less than four hours ago I was doubting if God even loved me.

I believe Jesus wept with me last night. There was nothing to be done, no comfort that really could have been given in that moment.

I miss you Clara.

Until that day…

Love,

Daddy

 

 

 

Clara Phillips Luke Phillips Katy Phillips

Oct 5,2016 A bitter taste

Hello My Love,

I noticed last week that I haven’t been writing in my journal as much. I’m not sure why, I always feel a little bit closer to you when I’m writing. I never really run out of things to write either. But these last few weeks have been different. I’ve been more discouraged, about everything, than I’ve ever been in my life.  There was even a time when I thought, “What’s the point of writing?! It’s not like I’ll be able to…”.  I’m sorry, that was hard for me to even write, but that last bit truly reflects the conflict within me. The negative thoughts, the doubts, they are not sought out, they are thrown like fiery spears at anything I seem to find comforting.

The grief is not getting any easier either.

Last week, after a tough ride home, I got out of the car and started towards the house.  I got a few steps from the car and just stopped.  I looked at the wet driveway, the soaked grass, the grey and cloudy skies. I could feel the cool drizzle that was being carried around by the breeze on my face. What a crazy day to play basketball, right? The weather, it was exactly like the day we decided to play basketball in the driveway last fall. It felt as if that memory was playing on some projector and I walked right into it and froze. I drank in every detail of that memory, but it had a bitter taste.

At times, I find my mind flooded with memories and thoughts of you, but my attempts to remember YOU in every perfect detail are becoming more difficult as time passes. I hope for the day when all of these pictures and videos of you will help me remember those details and remind me of all the joy you have brought to my life. Right now, unfortunately, they are far too painful…

I feel as if we are worlds apart. Life with you –the memory of it- feels like a wonderful dream I have been woken up from. I desperately want to return… How long will this last? How long must I suffer memories in place of a loving embrace?

The path of sorrow, and that path alone
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown:
No traveller ever reached that blessed abode,
Who found not thorns and briers in his road.

-William Cowper

I thought about this quote a lot over the last few days.  Why is “suffering” necessary? Maybe “necessary” is the wrong way to look at it, maybe “inevitable” is more accurate.  CS Lewis puts it this way: “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself”

Or, even better, in the words of our gracious Savior: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 my emphasis added)  There is no misunderstanding that. But why this way? Why me? Why you? I don’t know, maybe I never will. Anyways, the “whys” are as unfruitful now as they were eight months ago and they’ll always be that way.

Or, maybe “necessary” is the right way of looking at it? I wonder if I would have ever been able to truly appreciate what was done at the Cross had I never experienced any kind of suffering in my own life. Would something good have ever caused me to seek out the LORD so earnestly? If I lived a pain free life, would I ever be brought to my knees and cry out, “LORD, Please have mercy on me!”  Could I have really been saved before I fully understood what it was to NEED saving?

To an extent, I suppose those questions are similar to the “why” questions.  This did happen. I am suffering. I’ll continue to suffer. I do understand that I have “been bought with a price”. I am in desperate need of a savior. I have earnestly sought after the LORD for the last eight months and I know this verse to be true: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

And even having said all that, Clare-Bear, I still don’t know how I’m going to get through all this. The grief is just plain overpowering at times. And the holidays are coming up…I don’t even want to think about that, but it is inevitable. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I can.  Mommy and I did manage to get a crib together for your sister’s room and our friend got us a pretty lamp for the nursery. I’m surprised we’ve gotten that far. Sissy’s been pretty busy with Theater, SAT’s, ACT’s, school trips…you name it. I hope you get an opportunity to watch over her, I don’t get to see her as much during these busy times.

I found this poem by William Cowper while looking for the above quote. I also found, and read through a short biography.  It’s a remarkably sad story, but his suffering came to an end. So will mine.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

-William Cowper

With all my love,

Daddy

Luke Phillips Katy Phillips Clara Phillips

Sept 15, 2016 Grace Received

My dearest Clara,

Well, here we are, another holiday weekend down and back to school is in the rear view.  I made it through, but it sure left some fresh wounds on an already broken heart.  Mommy and I did our best to try and avoid what we’ve realized is unavoidable.  I took the first day of school off and Mommy and I went away for the day.  It was pretty uneventful, exactly how we wanted it. We had made it through the day, but we hadn’t dealt with the inevitable.

The next day, I got as far as an empty bus stop at the end of our road before the memories, and the devastatingly apparent lack of any new ones, dropped my heart into my stomach. I remember actually trying to will my heart to stop beating, its not something I’m proud to admit, but the pain is truly extraordinary sometimes. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get myself out of this one, so I opened my sermonAudio app and quickly found a sermon to listen to.  I usually have one queued up for my ride to work, and that day, I really needed to hear this one: William Hughes – Come Unto Me .

About 40 minutes later, I was almost at work, Mommy called-she had fallen into the same pit I just managed to climb out of.  I was able to talk to her until she had poured out her pain and started to calm down.  I don’t know if I said anything helpful, but I had a greater capacity to listen, and speak calmly having listened to most of that sermon. Now, I didn’t make much of it then, but looking back, I can’t help but feel like I received a little help getting through that awful, awful day.

I wish I could say the rest of week went peacefully after that, but I couldn’t seem to hold on to any peace for any longer than a few moments.  I think at this point, I’ve graduated from despair-lacking hope- to disappointment and discouragement, which is where I seem to be stuck.  Both emotions are definitely unwelcome.  I wish there was a magic verse, or prayer  that would break the shackles that these two feelings have seemed to place on me, but it really hasn’t been that easy.  I miss you in my life, in every part of it, ALL the time.  How is that ever going to change?  Could enough time pass that I wouldn’t look back and feel disappointed in my life? No, time may help with the pain, but there is no outlasting disappointment.  Trust, I feel, is the only way break these chains, but its just not strong enough right now. Maybe I’ll always struggle with it.  I hope that isn’t the case, but it would be better to struggle and remain in search of a better faith than to become overconfident and assume I can get through this by my own doing.

“It is not the strength of your faith that saves you, but the strength of Him upon whom you rely! Christ is able to save you if you come to Him—be your faith weak or be it strong.” – C. H Spurgeon

It’s no secret, and those who choose to enter our world of grief know this all too well, but Mommy has had a really tough couple of months.  She misses you and living life without you brings her indescribable pain and heartache.  It hurts to see the ones you love in so much pain, but at the same time, I know that there is no “quick fix” for something like this.  It’s hard.  I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I have to walk away from her tears and cries of despair.  My retreat leads me to a very candid conversation with God.  It’s here, where I pour my heart out, and here, where God pours in grace.  It’s hard to explain, it’s not like some switch gets flipped  mid prayer and I’m all better, but compassion begins to take over and I find myself equipped to grieve with her again.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:7

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Ok, so I wrote that last bit a few days ago and never got around to finishing/publishing it….Sorry Love.

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I want to say that, yesterday , I did NOT get disappointing news.   Mommy got a 20 week ultrasound and every looks good with your little sister  🙂

Tears burst from both Mommy and I as soon as we heard the news.  It was a very overwhelming moment, I hope you were there.  I had asked God in my prayers that morning to let you be part of that moment.  I don’t know what exactly what I was asking for, but I feel confident in knowing my request was heard and that the God I love is limitless.  I do not need to understand anything else.

My tears were not sorrowful, they were a little joyful, but they were mostly tears of thanksgiving, especially when I saw Mommy’s face after the news.  We’ve still got four long and incredibly difficult months coming up, please, please, please continue to pray for us.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 12:12

Love always,

Daddy

 

 

 

clara phillips katy phillips luke phillips

Aug 16, 2016 I’m so tired

Hello my love,

Sissy started school this week. I really hope she has a great senior year. I hope even more that I am able to keep it together enough to enjoy some of it along with her. Unfortunately, the spectacle that is “back-to-school” has been unavoidable and has already started to drag me down. Of course that means football season has started back up as well. I wonder how many hours I spent watching a game when one of my greatest sources of joy and entertainment was right in front of me? It makes my heart ache…I don’t beat myself up too much for this, we played together a whole lot. I just wish I had every moment – every decision – back. I remember you watching games with me… “Who are you rooting for dad?  I’m rooting for the one with 48 points…(brief pause)…which color are they?”  That always made me smile, it still does. I don’t think I’ll miss football anyway.  I had pretty much reached the point where it was only enjoyable to watch if I DVR’d it, skipped over all the beer and car commercials and found a way to ignore the commentators (mute). The challenge is…can I, will I… find something better to do?

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I have a problem turning my brain off long enough to fall asleep. Those nights where I toss and turn, my memories of you dominate my thoughts. It’s torturous sometimes. I try to keep the dark awful thoughts at bay so I either pray or replay my favorite memories over and over on a loop in my mind. I wish I enjoyed those good memories more, we have so many -I cherish ALL of them-, but right now, they still shred my heart into pieces. God must be holding my heart together in his hands. Though, even as I write this, I cry out, “But God…you broke my heart!…my family!  Why must your plan for my life involve so much heartache, so much suffering?”  In my plea, I recall..

Consider the work of God:
who can make straight what he has made crooked?  (Ecclesiastes 7:13)

Though he slay me, I will hope in him;[a]
yet I will argue my ways to his face.  (Job 13:15)

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  (Luke 12:34)

I also read John 14 whenever I need a boost of encouragement, which I’ll put down at the bottom of this letter because I wish I would have read it to you like a bedtime story, and I want to read it to you now.

I have a hard time including any verses that have the word “trial” in them. Not because I do not believe them. I just choose not to draw a parallel between losing you and a proving or testing by God.  Why not? Well, for one, it makes me feel really uneasy, and two, God’s intentions are incomprehensible to me…why try and infer anything from something I have no business trying to understand.  After all, all of those verses about trials will no doubt apply to the rest of my life. I feel pretty confident about that. The mental/emotional fortitude required to fend off the urge to crawl into a hole and live my life in despair is physically exhausting. Some days I just don’t have enough. I still find it near impossible to make it through an entire day unscathed. I recover a little quicker, but it will have taken most of what I built up earlier in the day. As more time passes, I realize that my life (and Mommy’s), however long that is, will be so much more difficult now. It’s not just birthdays, holidays, back-to-schools, family get-togethers, graduations, weddings…It’s all of those things and everything in between. The worst times come when I’m alone and are set off with something as benign as a glance in my rear view mirror that reveals nothing more than an empty back seat. Your smile is not there.

Sometimes I feel like I’m climbing up a mountain. I’ve been climbing for months, but the valley still feels so close. The peak seems impossibly high, concealed by clouds, I don’t know how far I must go. I don’t like looking up because all I see are sheer rock faces and no easy way up. There are days where I foolishly look up, become discouraged, and choose to sit in childish protest, in utter disbelief of my circumstances. Why is this so hard? Why did God allow me to love so deeply knowing that death would separate us? A love so pure, so good…why is death allowed to get in the way? It’s miserable…the separation is agonizing. If it weren’t for hope, if it weren’t for Christ, I’d be lost and I wouldn’t know where to find you.

5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth   (Colossians 1:5-6)

I’m sorry to write about things being so difficult without you. Sooner or later, you’ll want my perspective to change. I don’t know when that will come, but I long for it too. Perhaps that is enough for now.

Mommy and I got to hear this little one’s heartbeat today. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to smile as my eyes filled with tears of joy and sorrow. Amazing, but this hymn just popped in my head. I don’t think I’ve heard it recently:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end

Verse 1 & 4 of “Count your blessings” by Johnson Oatman

I can attest that thanking God for everything I have been given, even after losing so much, has been paradoxically therapeutic. I couldn’t explain it even if I tried.  I thank God for sending me you each and every day.

I miss you Clara.

With all my love,

Daddy

 

 

I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life

1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;a believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?b 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.”c 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.d From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask mee anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,f to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will beg in you.

18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

(John 14 ESV) http://biblehub.com/esv/john/14.htm

 

 

luke phillips katy phillips clara phillips