I can't imagine that you thought my Sunday Offering for today would be about anything other than... my dad. I mean, it is Father's Day.
The picture above is one of my favorite pictures of my me and my dad. The way I am looking up at him, my whole hand only able to grip one of his fingers because his hands were so big. I'm pretty sure I was learning to walk. And learning that this was the man I could look up to, literally and figuratively, for the rest of my life... or, I should say... the rest of his life.
The middle child of two sisters, my dad knew how to handle women. He knew we were sensitive and moody and at times needy, frail, and irritable... and that on a dime, that could all change and we'd be happy and giddy and independent! He handled us well.
I could say a million great things about my dad but I'm going to get to the point on this one. Mainly because I want to keep your attention... I want you to read this... because it has changed my life. My dad was 56 when he passed away. He had a heart attack late on a Thursday night. They were able to "get him back" and sustain a pulse until they got him to the hospital where he remained unconscious in CCU until he passed away 10 days later.
I've never prayed as hard as I did in those 10 days. On dirty hospital floors and street benches and in my car and, of course, by his bed side. I begged God to save his life. BEGGED. I could not imagine how life would go on without him. And not just for my family but for everyone along the way that had leaned on him.
On the 10th day of him being in the hospital... of myself, my mom and my sister sleeping in chairs in the waiting room... our exhaustion and stress to levels I had never felt... I went outside to the hospital entrance. It was hot. So, so hot. August in Texas, so I'm guessing about 101 degrees. And I just sat. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I read verses over and over about healing and life and God's promises. And then I felt a pause. A shift. A turn from where the conversation went from me talking to God... to God talking to me. It's one of the very few times I can say... I heard God. I know it was Him. It was clear and so very full of peace. I've prayed for God's direction many times in my life... for Him to show me what to do... this time was different. This time, He spoke to me.
John 10:10 came to my mind. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." I had been reading that verse over and over but only focusing on the first part. Telling myself that the if I just prayed hard enough that the "thief" couldn't steal, kill or destroy my dad... my family... my life. But in that moment, my focused shifted to the last part of the verse... "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." In those few moments... "the peace that passes all understanding" (Phil 4:7) came over my entire body. I saw it differently. I knew what the Lord was saying... and it was that "He came that my dad my have life and live it ABUNDANTLY". That's the only way my dad wanted to live!!! Abundantly! If he couldn't drink 5 diet cokes a day and work on cars from sun up to sun down... he might as well go on and be with the Lord. What is life without abundance?
My dad passed away later that night. We were... and still are... devastated. And I don't "understand" it. I wish he was here. We miss him terribly. But the peace I felt on that hot August day outside of Baylor Hospital and the peace I feel everyday is "the peace that passes all understanding" It's a different kind of peace... one that the Lord gave me on that day. A peace that when I am overwhelmed with grief... it kicks in. It takes over. And then I remember... I don't have to understand it. And I can shift my focus... from... the "thief"... to the "life giver".
I know I'll see my dad again. That hope is my anchor. And when I do, it will have been mere seconds to him. Mere seconds from the last time we saw each other. He didn't have to live on this earth a day without us. And for that, I am thankful.
Since that day, almost 9 years ago, the Lord has given me many "winks". The Lord and my dad ;) I always considered such things as coincidences or luck... but I know, without a shadow of a doubt... these things are winks. They are signs and messages and conversation from heaven to us here on Earth. They are undeniable.
One of the most memorable winks I've been given was about a year and a half ago... as we stepped into Smirl Chapel for the very first time. I wrote about that in Love What Matters, a national publication compiled of "Real people. Real stories. Real heart."
I would love for you to read it... by clicking HERE
I have so many stories of these winks... and even as I sat and wrote this today... another happened. I keep notes about them in my phone... I always think I'll never forget them! But we are human and we forget. So I'm using those notes with the intent to share these winks with you.
My first ever Sunday Offering to you! Every Sunday, I will give you something. Maybe a recipe, maybe a word of encouragement... whatever I have at the end/beginning of my week, to give you. Just like Sunday offering at church, sometimes you have a little to give, sometimes you have a lot to give... and sometimes you don't even make it to church! I have a good one for today because it helps to utilize some kitchen strays and it makes a meal!
At the end of the week, we always have these random things in the refrigerator. A half eaten rotisserie chicken, half an onion, some random baby carrots, a zucchini that I'm not really sure why I even bought and of course, some stale tortilla chips. Over the winter, I decided to make something out of these leftovers and it has turned into one of my favorite and easiest recipes. You can really use anything but these are the things I had!
Check out today's blog for the full recipe!
I'm going to tell you about this offering sign real real soon!