Monthly Archives: June 2016

June 28, 2016 Every perfect gift

Hello my love,

I started working on your swing set.  It had been lying in a pile under the deck since I had brought it back from the old house.  I went through the pieces, board by board, trying to figure out which ones I could keep and which needed to be replaced.    I want to keep as much of the original set as possible, but some pieces are just too worn.  It used to rock and sway so bad as you swung back and forth.  I guess I have to rebuild it a little bit stronger if I want to swing on it.  We used to spend so much time out at that swing…even in the cold.  You loved that swing, which is why I had hoped it would feel good to work on it.  But..piece by piece, memory after memory flooded my thoughts.  I thought about the big red ball we used to keep in the back yard and how I would toss it to you while you were swinging toward me and you would kick it.  Most times it would go straight up in the air, but sometimes it would come right back at me and I’d ham it up and pretend that it knocked me over.  You’d laugh so hard I was always afraid you’d fall off the swing.  That laugh could cure any foul mood I happened to be in. Always.  It was such a gift, and “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,…” (James 1:17)

It’s raining right now.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve always liked the rain and I really, really enjoy thunderstorms.  I remember always having you in my lap or holding on to you as big storms rolled through.  I don’t know if you liked them, or just got a kick out of how much I liked them.  I used to watch them with such enthusiasm, now they are just perspective, a reminder of how small I really am when measured against something so great and powerful.  Sometimes I like to think God sent the rain just for me, so I can close my eyes, turn my face towards the sky and let the rain just wash my tired eyes.  Like I said, I really do like the rain.  I feel bad about writing that bit though.  There’s a whole a lot of people in WV suffering because of the rain.  Lost loved ones, lost homes…I’ve been praying for them, but I’m going to find a way to do more than that.  I know they’re asking the same question, the only question.  A question as old as suffering itself…why?  What did I do to deserve this?  Certainly, what feels like punishment, is exactly that.  Right?  Maybe I’ll find out one day.  I think deep down, I know the answer, I didn’t do anything to deserve this suffering.  Coincidentally, “Why do I deserve to go to Heaven?” What have I done to justify Jesus suffering on the cross, for me?”   Nothing.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Did I deserve it in either case?  No. Although, I will admit, sometimes I want to believe I deserved it just so I have a reason to be angry, but I know better.  The rain falls on the just and unjust alike… “44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44-45)

A rainy day sort of symbolizes my life right now, where I am with my grief.  It’s no longer the violent storm I once wrote about.  More like a sad, dreary, day.  A certain Bill Withers song comes to mind…

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
Only darkness every day.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home

It’s just so sad around here without your smiling face.  And I cannot stand seeing Mommy struggle so much, knowing there really isn’t anything I can say or do other than just hold on to her and pray.  Her pain is mine too.  Part of praying for her to feel better almost feels a little selfish, like it will help me feel better.  I don’t think either of us really know what better is.  How could we?  I don’t think we’ll know happiness until it finds us.  I like to imagine it as a moment when I can smile, because I’m thinking about you smiling at the fact that I’m smiling.

It was a beautiful weekend, but those seem to be the hardest.  It didn’t help that it coincided with the five month mark.  I don’t think I had ever been apart from you for more than five days, probably more like two, but one was one too many and it still is.  I feel mocked every time I see something wonderful and can’t share it with you.  The evening before, I went outside and there must have been 1000 fireflies in the yard.  It was like we had a back yard full of little twinkling stars.  Clara would love this…  Inevitably, a moment like that will lead to some very tough thoughts.  I’m getting a little better at fighting them off.  I suppose it’s easier to defend yourself when you see it coming.  Most of the troubling thoughts, when you really stop and analyze them, have a common theme, or goal you might say.  Surely, I’ll be miserable the rest of my life; There must have been something I could have done;  There had to be another way for me to become faithful to Jesus;  God is surely punishing me.  How can a good and loving God do this?…It may be a stretch, but to me, they are all trying to get me to give up and start questioning the one truth that has given me any kind of peace.  The oldest trick in the book: “But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” ( Genesis 3:4 )   

One foot in this life, one in the next.  My mind trapped between painful memories and an uncertain future.  You took my heart with you when you left to be with Jesus.  It’s ok, you can keep it, I’ll just have to grow a new one  🙂   Besides, I don’t ever want to lose sight of what’s really important:

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

I miss you baby girl.

Love Daddy

 

luke phillips katy phillips clara phillips

 

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June 16, 2016

Hey sweetheart,

Happy Birthday to Sissy!  I can’t believe she’s 17.  Where has the time gone?  She’s such a smart, kindhearted, beautiful young woman.  I’m so proud of her, I hope she knows that.  I really don’t know where I would be without her.  Looking back over the last few months, she’s comforted and supported me every time she’s noticed or even sensed that I was upset.  I often wonder what’s going on in her mind, I know she misses you dearly, but she keeps it together pretty well.  I do my best to talk to her often, be open and honest with with her, tell her I love her every chance I get and show her that you are not gone.  She’s has seen her Dad broken, but I don’t want her to see me lost.

I wish I had the strength to look through pictures, but it still hurts so bad.  I really hope that gets easier, there are so many great pictures.  I want to see your sweet smile without it ripping me apart.  Lately, it seems like dreams are the only time I get to see your face and not think about how much I miss you.  Of course, I always wake up to the same depressing reality.  There is no changing that, or even hoping to forget for any length of time.  Obviously, I have no intention of forgetting you, but it would be nice to forget to cry every once in a while.

Mommy and I got to see your kindergarten yearbook this week.  Your teachers, principles, and many others at Winfield have been incredibly supportive.  They’ve brought us all kinds of stuff, even framed your winter art project for us.  The back page of your yearbook has a nice page dedicated to you with a note that Mommy, Ms. Sarah and I put together.  I gave it a quick glance and just as quickly put it down…That’s MY baby girl in the back of a yearbook.  We should be getting ready for summer vacation.  I should be looking forward to a colorful Father’s Day card.  Instead, I’m battling for my life.  I wish that was an exaggeration, but I really am fighting to learn how to live in a world without you.  What I am doing right now is not living, it’s getting by at best.  You were part of me, the best of me.  How am you supposed to live when what is left of me just feels incomplete?  That is something Mommy and I are trying to figure out.  While it seems impossible, we’ve left it in the hands of the only one capable of doing what we believe is impossible.  I’d still do anything for you, and I truly believe the one thing you would ask of me is to accept God’s help.  You know, one of my favorite things I have heard my Pastor say is, “God’s promises are true whether you believe them or not, but they can’t help you if you don’t believe them.”  Pretty awesome, right?  The more I read, the more I study, the more secure I feel.  This is not blind faith anymore.  It’s love.  How I would have loved to explain that to you, but you found that out before I did.

I’m going to do my best to let Christ show me how to love, how to live.  I thought I knew, but there is so much more to it.  It’s not going to be easy, there is so much sadness in my heart these days.  Keep praying for me sweetie.  You, and so many others haven’t stopped since, and I can feel it.

I miss you so much

Love,

Daddy

June 5, 2016

Good morning sweetie,

Sissy finished up school this week so I went down to pick her up.  I hope she can help pull me out of this funk I am in.  I realized that drive back was always a little bit easier before.  I loved seeing your face light up when you saw her.  Watching you two hug…what car ride? What traffic?  It’s like it never happened.  I hope I get to feel that again.

I wish Sissy was here last weekend.  Mommy and I went to our first social event, a Memorial Day picnic, and it would have been nice to have her with us.  Everyone there was great, very supportive, but I felt like a fish out of water.  I would have spent the entire time watching you play, making sure you drank enough, shaking my head at your odd food selections, repeatedly saying “no” to your third request for dessert.  And after it was all over, I would have looked back in the rear view mirror and seen you fast asleep, worn out, dirty, red-cheeked…beautiful.  How I miss being able to carry you from the car seat to the bed and tuck you in.  Those moments, where I’d pick you up and you would wake up just enough to see me, smile and cling to my neck as I carried you inside, they are perfect.  The world could have been on fire behind me and I would not have noticed.

None of that happened on Monday.  I think it was the catalyst in setting off a pretty miserable week for me.  Wednesday -in particular- was unbearable, I have no idea why.  I was inconsolable when I got home.  It was the first time I’ve felt like, “ok, that’s enough.  I want it to stop now.”  If there was a price -paid in tears – that was owed from me, surely I have paid it.  Last night, I dreamt I was sitting on a familiar step watching your friends all play in the yard…I was just sitting there with tears running down my cheeks.  Even in my dreams, I cannot escape my grief.  Isn’t that just awful?   I am getting tired of crying every single day, but the memories seem to be intensifying.  As my life, my new life, takes shape without you around, I find myself thinking about you non-stop.  The separation, the unknown time for which we’ll be apart is tearing me up inside.  It’s been almost five months, but it feels like years.  How would an eternity without you feel?  God has revealed Hell to me.  It is separation, from God, from you, from anyone I ever have and will love.  It is agony, it is anger.  “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.” (Luke 13:28)

Why has God shown this to me?  I don’t know, perhaps to serve as a reminder of what God’s grace has saved me from and why I should be forever thankful that he sent his son, Christ Jesus, to die on a cross for my sins, and that there is still hope.  “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)”

As bad as this week was, there were still moments.  Late Wednesday night, after an awful day, just before bed,  I was led to this:

saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
    from your sight;
yet I shall again look
    upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
    the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
    at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
    whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
    O Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
    I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
    into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
    forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
    will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

Jonah 2:2-9

One thing I love about not knowing the Bible that well:  I don’t really know where to look, but always end up right where I need to be.

Here’s hoping for a better week.   I miss you so incredibly much.

Love,

Daddy