Saturday, April 7, 2018

My dad died on a beautiful day.


My dad died on a beautiful day. The skies were as clear as crystals with bright winter sun dancing across my hair as I laughed with my friends on the playground. He took his final breath right before dawn, unaware of the day that was to become the most memorable of his daughter's life. 

They say death waits for no man, and that one can never predict when one might die. Live each day to the fullest, they say. But I knew. I knew as I left the house that evening that that was the last time I’d ever see my dad’s living face. After all, his nearly lifeless body had been laying downstairs in a hospital bed for nearly a week, scaring me from leaving my room. My once strong father, turning into ash right before my eyes.

I had plans to stay with a friend. How cruel, you might say, that I left knowing my dad was going to die that next day, but you must understand my motives. My house scared me. I was terrified one day I’d walk downstairs staring at my dad’s unmoving body. I didn’t want to be the one to find him after his spirit had left his body. 

Please do not think me heartless. After all, I sat there grasping my dad’s hand, endlessly sending prayers upwards in hopes that somehow, my dad might pull through. But my mom knew, just as I did, that this was his last night. She begged me to tell him it was okay to let go. I refused. It wasn’t okay. My tears spilt onto his skin, but unlike the movies, they did not wake him. Unable to say anything else, I fled. I would not watch him die. I would not pretend I was okay with that. 


It’s a bit ironic, how such a terrible morning turned into such a beautiful day. How something not okay, can look so very okay on the outside with just a little bit of sunshine. 

March 19th, 2011 was a beautiful day. It was one of the warmest days of the winter, giving the people of Western Washington an early taste of spring time. My friends and I made our way to the schoolyard near their house, still damp from the winter rains. My nose was pink from the cold. Maybe also from crying. I dodged a hand trying to tag me, and laughed as we both clumsily slipped in the grass.

My dad had just passed a few hours before. 

I remember thinking, how terrible is it for me to be laughing right now, after such a horrible thing happened? The guilt gripped my heart and turned it into ice. It would take years for that guilt to thaw into a puddle. 


Years later, I am much older and much wiser. I would change much from that day, yes. Now, I would hold my dad tight and wouldn't let go. I would be there for my mother as his body was taken away. I would cry and celebrate and mourn. My dad was gone, but he was no longer in pain. At age 12, I did not do these things, but who could blame me? I was only a young girl too afraid to look death in the eye.

I believe I needed that beautiful day and giggling friends. God provides blessings in the most outstanding of ways. He knew I needed to feel happiness before going to an empty house. It would take years before I could walk downstairs again without thinking that my dad would still be laying there. His helpless body taking painful breaths of air, never knowing which one might be his last. 

I still hold a puddle of guilt in my hands. The ice has slowly been thawed, yet something inside of me can’t let it wash down the drain. The puddle represents the stories I never asked about my dad’s childhood, the cuddles I wiggled out of when he was in pain, the body I abandoned after death. Yet, slowly, I’ve learned to accept that you can’t hold on to guilt forever. 

Guilt has a tendency to hold on and never let you go. But we are not defined by our past. Christ has called us His and we are loved. Let that guilt melt my friends, let it pass between your fingers and welcome in the freedom that is only possible by letting go and trusting Jesus. His grace is abundant and His joy is ceaseless. 


It was a beautiful day, the day my dad died. March 19th. It was beautiful, because the sun was shining as the birds sung their first song of spring. But it was also beautiful, because my dad was no longer sick. It was a beautiful day, because heaven had gained my dad. God had heard my cry. His answer was bringing him home. I didn’t understand it then, but I think I’m starting to know. And slowly, drops of water fall from my hands as my heart becomes warm again.

Thank you, Lord, for beautiful days. 




Here's just one chapter of my story. What's your story?

Elizabeth



Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Your Burdens are NOT yours Alone







Hey there friends,

Today I'm here to share that LOOK, it was beautiful, warm, and sunny on a winter day in Western Washington. Pure magic, huh? No joke though, it was over 70 degrees and warm enough for me to walk around barefoot on the beach. IN WINTER. I honestly can't handle the excitement. 

In all seriousness, though, this is exactly what I needed. The weekend felt like an answer to prayer. After a full quarter of work 35+ hours a week and taking a full load of college courses, I've been feeling so drained (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). In my frustration, I just called out to God asking Him what is my purpose? Every day has been the same process, the same routine. Wake up, drink coffee, do last minutes homework, go to classes, talk to people, go to work, get yelled out, go home, do homework, sleep. Over and over and over. What is my purpose? Because it just feels like I'm going nowhere. 

Instead of answering my question directly (He's already given me the answer, after all) He sent me peace in the form of sunshine and a dear friend willing to go on a spontaneous adventure. 

My friend Demi and I got into her car o Monday, smoothies in hand and polaroids ready, and headed off to Deception Pass. It's a beautiful spot that I've visited year after year with my family, but never on such a clear and less busy day. We sat in the warm sun overlooking the water for awhile and just talked about everything other than school. Later on, we went down to the beach. Right away I took my shoes off and started running along the water, dodging waves and pebbles. 

And it's day like these where God's goodness just overflows me with joy. The sunshine shows me what I was missing in the darkness.

It's so easy for me when I've stressed and overwhelmed to take it all and put it on my back. I don't want to ask people for help, I don't like calling up a friend when I'm crying to give me comfort. I so often forget to simply just ask the Lord for his guidance and peace. When all I'm doing is questioning Him, I'm not allowing Him to pour His love and peace over me and giving Him a part of the load to carry. But guys, we are not called to do this life all by ourselves. We are much too much of failures to do that. 

So here I am, in a coffee shop staring out the window where rain once agains falls freely outside, yet I am reminded of the sun. I'm reminded that out of darkness, there is light. But most of all, I am reminded that my burdens are not mine alone. 




I know dear friends that this life can be so hard, so so tiring. I know there can be so much darkness and hurt and loneliness. But it's so important in the midst of that, to remember who the light is. Remember who you can ALWAYS call out to and place your burdens on. (Hint, it's Jesus). Your burdens are not yours alone. He takes our failures and makes them beautiful. I think that's down right amazing, don't you agree? 

AND on another note, finals are officially over for me!! *cue confetti* I leave for Ireland tomorrow night (Thurs. Mar. 15th), so if you want to follow me and my adventures, don't forget to check out my instagram! 

Love you all so much,

Elizabeth



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Christians, let's start thinking about our actions.


Today, I'm feeling discouraged. Today, my heart feels so heavy. I've worked seven days straight, serving customers and putting on a fake smile. "Have a good day!" "Thanks for coming in!" "I'm so sorry, let me go get that for you." Over and over and over. Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful for the job I've been given, and the people I work with, but sometimes it get's to be a little too much. 

On my sixth day of working straight, I just snapped. I was tired, emotional, and frustrated by how people treated my coworkers or spoke down to me. It continually strikes me dumb how many people are so willing to be rude to a complete stranger, just because they work at a particular restaurant and are suppose to be serving them. But nothing gets to me more than a family of Christians talking about Jesus, and then turning around and making some snarky comment to me about how long I'm taking to clear up a spot for them, or threatening to go find a manager.

Just last Sunday this happened. "Why, Pastor Joe's sermon was so good, I really do feel like God is teaching me a lot right now." "Right? Remembering to be kind to those who don't receive kindness is so so good!" (yes I'm totally paraphrasing but go along with it, k?) And then five minutes later. "Um, excuse me MISS, there's an empty seat right over there, are you blind? This is getting ridiculous little lady." And then her entire party just stood there nodding, like they were some part of social justice movement that was going to change the world. You're not, you're just an impatient party of 6 that have been waiting maybe seven minutes.

And honestly, I wanted to cry. (and also say that if Jesus was standing right there, He'd have said you all didn't learn anything, because that was not kindness). Because when as Christians have we started separating church and living out a Christian life, with how we treat others when things are not going our way? I see this all the time! A church family not tipping a server because their food took a little longer than expected, or getting angry that I gave them a server with a lip piercing, or finding a manager because whenever a door opens, it makes them cold. My coworkers often dread working on Sunday because they know there will be a bunch of "church people." Is this how Jesus called us to live?

And guys, I'm not saying I'm the innocent party here. We've all fallen into this trap! For me, it's been getting impatient at the bank teller because the person in front of me took forever cashing all their checks, or crossing the street because I didn't want to pass that bus station when there was a tired looking women sitting there smoking. But why? Christ has called us to live a life full of service and radical love, proclaiming His glory and light. Is making snarky comments at the hostess or avoiding someone because they have too many face piercings doing that?

So Christians, (Liz here included) please think about your actions. Remember, when you're professing Christ, it's not only professing His name with your words, but with your actions. Remember that people are watching you. What's the reputation you're giving to Christ? None of us are perfect, and we're all going to have our bad days where we snap at someone, or get impatient, but our lives are suppose to be glorifying to the Lord. Sometimes, you and I are the only Christian someone will meet. So how are we proclaiming Jesus today? 



1. How has God challenged you when it came to loving and serving others? And 2. has there been a time where you could've professed Christ with your actions, but chose to react with impatience, anger, frustration etc. instead? Let's change that! Let's remember that we are the light that someone is watching today. Let's remember to think about our actions.

All my love,

Elizabeth


© elizabeth anne. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.