Jul 28, 2016 We miss you Clara

Hello my love,

It was so terribly hot this week. It reminded me of out trip to Dutch Wonderland last year.  Reluctantly, I went through my camera roll searching for the date and saw that it was exactly one year ago.  I remember it being SO hot  while we were there, but it was such a great day.  You loved roller coasters-you love anything that goes really fast!  I remember so much of that day…there was the incredibly long line for the log ride, the cheesy spaceship ride, the water park, the super long line to ride the water slide ( it seemed like I was holding the bags for an hour ), the bumper car pile up, the old car ride, a pony ride for a spoiled loved little girl and WAY too much funnel cake to finish off our day.

I can’t help but compare and that’s a dangerous way to think.  It’s so demoralizing to think about “the good-old days” being behind me.  Life seems to have lost its luster and I do not like it.  It has been six agonizingly long months without you and that is all we know right now.  “Time flies when you’re having fun”-the opposite, is indeed, true as well.   Mommy and I still cry just about every day and it has become so very, very evident that you brought an immeasurable amount of joy into our lives.   How could life now ever compare to life then?  Is the bar forever set too high?  Given what we have been through, is it foolish to think we can ever be completely happy again?   Like I said, comparing is dangerous-its a no win scenario- why compare something I can’t have with something I do not want to accept?  I feel like there is a painful lesson on contentment hiding here, but I’m not going to lecture myself in a letter to you.

I also heard, and subsequently struggled this week with the saying “God will never give you more than you can handle” ( loosely taken from 1 Cor 10:13 ).  I’ve was kind of hung up on this one…Initially, I thought: if that is true, I hate, hate, hate myself for being who I am.  If I was weaker, or different, would that have kept things from happening how they did?   Why did I have to be strong enough to get “handle” this?

I don’t like to negatively dwell on any verse, so I thought about it a lot.  I try not to jump right into commentary and research without going through the exercise of figuring out on my own.  It’s amazing how much clearer things get when you remove yourself from the equation.  Daddy IS NOT, and NEVER will be, strong enough to handle this…alone.  It’s not about me, it’s quite the opposite really…we will never, any of us, face anything, and I mean anything in this world that God is not capable of getting us through.  Others have been there, and the LORD has and will always help those who ask for his help.

13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4 :13

I think the one thing we struggle with most nowadays:  We just miss you so, so, so , so , so, very much.  There is not really a “cure” for that one.  The separation just puts my heart in a vice and I know- I see- it happening with Mommy too.  I remind myself (and her) that you’re just part of my (our) future, and that I WILL see you again.  Maybe that day will be tomorrow, it’s not up to me.  I’m not afraid of dying anymore, I’m not saying I want to, but there is a wonderful peace in knowing what’s next….who is next.  But…I am afraid..of a good many things.  I’m afraid I need you to be happy…truly happy.  I’m afraid your pictures will always make me cry…you’re too beautiful for that.  I’m afraid the past will always be painful…but I want to remember.  I’m afraid mommy will never recover…and I need her help.  I’m afraid my future here will be too long for me…but too short for others.  I’m afraid I will feel this pain again one day and because of that…I’m afraid I won’t be the same Dad to Sissy, or your new little sibling.

It’s so hard Clara.  I ask for God’s help each day.  I hope you see then plan as he does, or at least better than we do.  These two verses, of the many I read in this difficult week, helped me out a great deal.

18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19We love because he first loved us

1 John 4 18-19

 

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

John 14:27

 

 

Love always

Daddy

P.S  Your cat follows me everywhere… it’s kind of annoying.  🙂

 

 

 

luke phillips katy phillips clara phillips

 

 

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July 13, 2016 Just keep praying

Hello my love,

The other night, I said a small prayer before drifting off to sleep.  I asked God to please let you be close to Mommy and I as we slept.  I didn’t really know what I was asking for, I just miss your presence in my life , and in that moment, I just wanted to believe that you were close to me.  God was gracious enough to answer that small prayer.  I had a wonderful dream where I saw you and Mommy hugging and playing and I woke up in a pretty good mood.  I didn’t ask for a dream and really, I wasn’t expecting one.  But I’ll accept every opportunity to see you I can get and thank the Lord for an answered prayer.

 

The dream sort of got me thinking, I think it showed me another answered prayer.   Or at least, that’s how I interpret it.  I’ve been praying for Mommy a lot lately.  I hate seeing what this has done to her and it’s been really weighing on me.  I try my best to lift her spirits by reminding her of God’s promises.  As I say the same things over and over to her, I find myself in a better place.  I do believe what I’m saying, it’s not some pep talk to get her past a bad depressing moment.  It’s instruction on how to live with this tragedy.  When I focus my love and attention on Jesus and on others, Mommy in this case,  my issues sort of fall out of focus.  I’ve had a good couple of days, and in retrospect,  I think God is using me to comfort Mommy, the very thing I’ve been asking God to do.

I wouldn’t have thought it possible for you to be any more special to me, but I can’t help but smile when I think about your part in my salvation.  Just to be perfectly clear, it’s only by God’s grace that I have been saved,  but you sent me looking.  Most likely with a passion I never would have had otherwise.  I’ve been to church. I learned about Jesus.  Along time ago, I even asked Christ to forgive me of my sins, but you know, I never really needed Jesus before and thus never really got to know Him.  I never felt broken, not just emotionally, but broken over how unworthy of His grace I really am.  Circumstance aside, this is a huge difference in my faith now.  Before, I knew who Jesus was, I knew OF Him.  Now, I KNOW Him.  You’ll never trust someone you know OF with your life as much as you trust someone you KNOW.  My God means everything to me now, I’m so glad I went looking in these dark times.  I’m also glad He is your God, your Father, too.

It’s kind of strange how people ( myself included ) that really have, or think they have everything they need, don’t really need God and don’t really get to know God.  But if you really look , you find that you have nothing that wasn’t given to you and nothing that can’t be taken away.  What you’re left with is a dependence, and in that dependence you’ll find (I found) comfort…peace.  My favorite time of day is in the morning, just after getting ready for the day.  I lock myself in your room, sit down on the floor by your bed and pray.  Sometimes I’ll be in there for 20 minutes.  The world stops, I speak, God Listens.

Some answered prayers are more impactful than others.  Dreams are good, comfort and strength are great, but a new baby brother or sister…well, there are really no words.  On top of that, the timing…The due date is within 3 days of your accident and birthday.  God willing, it seems like we’ll have some joy brought into our lives during an incredibly difficult time.  There’s a lot more that could be said here, but I prayed for this, believed it would happen and hoped it would be according to his will.

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.  1 John 5:13-15

Keep praying for us Clar-Bear…  Our emotions are ALL over the place. We are already scared that lightning will strike twice, but I guess that’s to be expected…I’m still a heart-broken dad.  I’ll keep doing the only thing I can do…I’ll keep praying, keep trusting, keep hoping.

I love and miss you so much,

Daddy

 

 

 

Luke Phillips Katy Phillips Clara Phillips

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

 

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

05/27/2016 Seven-Zero-Zero

Hello my love,

I’ve been getting up pretty early lately.  I’ve always been an early riser, but I seem to get up much earlier now.  The other day, Mommy woke up when she heard me getting out of bed, looked at the clock and said, “I don’t like seeing 5 anything on the that clock.”  As she rolled over to go back to sleep, I smiled and went downstairs.  I smiled because I remember how you would get up early, come into our room and stand by the edge of the bed.  More often than not, Mommy would say, “ It’s too early Clara…Seven-Zero-Zero, we aren’t getting up until the clock says Seven-Zero-Zero.”  If it was really early, one of us would go tuck you back in bed, but we usually let you climb in with us.  I miss those moments so much.  Especially when we were all awake, but stayed in bed for a while.  There was something special about those moments: peaceful, safe, comfortable, free of distractions…just us.  We would always have a good laugh after you said, “Mommy!  Your breath is kickin!”  You and I would giggle while Mommy would reply, “Clara…it IS NOT!” ( We both know it was 🙂  )

I must admit, I’ve been pretty disappointed in myself lately.  I can’t shake this feeling that I failed you.  I know those thoughts aren’t productive and come from a dark, evil place in my mind.  It’s as if they’re determined to bring me down and put all my failures right in front of my face.  It would be a lot easier to dismiss them if they didn’t make any sense.  In fact, you know what makes my demons so hard to fight?  They don’t have to lie to me.  They need only show me-remind me-of my failures.  What do I do here?  Just ignore them? Try to forget?  No and No.  They won’t dare let me off that easy.  I have to do the only thing that I think I can do.  Accept them, give them to Jesus, try to learn from them and focus on the things I did right.

I pray for you often-every day actually- not always for the same thing.  I don’t even know what I can pray for.  I’m sure there are many that would say I don’t need to.  That you are with the Lord and don’t need anything.  That’s true, I believe that, but I really do enjoy praying for other people and how could I ever exclude you.  God knows what you need-I pray that God provides it…and sends my love of course.  I pray for others a lot, I think because I wish I was a better at telling people about Jesus.  Not because I feel like its my duty, or that I’m somehow obligated to do so, but because I know.  If I could only transfer every emotion, every thought, every experience I’ve had over the last four months it would be impossible for them to remain in the dark.  Well, maybe not impossible, that might be wishful thinking.  It hardly matters anyway.  I can’t transfer the pain and suffering, the despair and depression, the nonstop tears, the heart crushing memories, the comfort and consolation, the answered prayers, the feeling of humility that pours down on you when you realize that Jesus Christ is not only real, but is active in your life and working to heal you.  Why do I deserve such special attention?  I don’t.  I hardly did anything right.  Yet, He is still there.  It’s an indescribable feeling and I wish I was able to transfer it.

I’ve had one verse on my mind a lot this week.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

What an awesome verse to meditate on.  The “…peace of God,…”  Yes, it’s real, and No, I don’t understand how it’s possible.  I should be a mess.  I think about you all day, in everything I see and do.  I still cry often -daily- with every unfamiliar picture, each painful memory and all those thoughts of future moments without you.  However, Jesus has given me an incomprehensible sense of peace lately.  I don’t understand it.   I think everything inside of me actually wants to fight it.  Will I allow myself to heal? If God gives me the strength to stand, will I just say ” No, thank you.  I really don’t want to.  I’m too afraid I’ll fall down again.”.  Or will I get up and try and walk again?  I hope you can help me too.  After all, you’re part of my future and I’ll get there a lot faster if I get up.

I miss you Clara.

Love always,

Daddy

 

5/22/2016 Thank you, again

Good morning sweetie,

When I have a dream about you, I’m always very thankful.  I always thank God, but I’d like to believe that I can thank you as well.  I don’t know if that really is you giving me a giant hug in my dream, all I know is how real it felt and how I woke right up from the euphoric rush of emotion that came over me.  It was only a few minutes later that I realized it was my birthday and the one thing I would have asked for was given without having to ask.  I could choose to believe that it was just coincidence.  No…I think the Lord is limitless and there are many spiritual things that we’ll never know or understand while we are here, and I’m incredibly thankful that the Lord was gracious enough to let you raise the spirits of your brokenhearted dad on his 35th birthday.  I love you to the moon and back!

That same day, Mommy took part in an awareness walk set up for your friend Ava.   I couldn’t do it.  I’m still hesitant to accept invitations to events and such where I know your friends will be around.  I should have gone though, it was tough for Mommy and I should have been there.  I should have been there to hear Ava tell Mommy that she misses you and to see your very best friend, Syd, who is always reminding us that she thinks about you all the time and told Mommy after the race: “Clara won because she has wings!”  I love her spirit.

Sunday morning, Me, Mommy and Aunt Bethany took part in a 5K that was set up in memory of Nate and Sarah.  I hope all three of you were together watching.  I bet you had giggle at me trying to run for the first time in months.  I thought about you the whole time I was running.   I imagined you running next to me.  I thought about running home with Mil-Mil after getting off the bus…I thought about how much you love to run and how I should do more of it.  Although, the next day reminded me why I don’t run.  My knee was killing me for the next three days.  Remember that time you hurt your knee bowling? 🙂  You jumped up in excitement and really hurt your knee when you landed.  It must have been those hard bowling shoes.  I remember carrying you out of the alley and all the way to the car.  We wrapped your knee up with an ace bandage when we got home.  I miss taking care of you…I will take some comfort in that there is no need for that where you are

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

IMG_4698

 

Monday was Mommy and Daddy’s anniversary.  No cards, gifts or elaborate plans.  Just lots of hugs. We love and miss you so very much.

Love always,

Daddy