When Will Daddy Stop Being Dead?

Yesterday it was 37 years since my first husband was killed in an accident.  He died when the car he was working on fell on top of him and crushed him.  My two young daughters came home from school and found him there.  Needless to say, it was quite a traumatic experience for them.

All of the events surrounding that day are forever entrenched in my mind.  But one memory that still haunts me occurred about six weeks after the funeral.

At the time of his death as I tried to comfort my daughters, my youngest daughter seemed not to really be upset or need any comforting.  As family and friends came in for the funeral she enjoyed playing with cousins and friends and appeared to have no sorrow for her father’s death.

At first I thought it was just shock but after the funeral was over and weeks began to pass she still shown no sign of any trauma or sorrow.

I began wondering what kind of daughter I was raising.

Finally, about six weeks later she came to me and asked a question I will never forget.

“Mommy, when will Daddy stop being dead and come home?”

Oh my!!!

It was then I realized what she had been thinking all this time.

A few months before his death he had injured his back and was in the hospital for almost two weeks.  At that time the hospital did not allow young children in the rooms so when I went to see him I would have them stand in the yard just outside his window.  He would come to the window and wave at them.

When he was discharged from the hospital we had a party!  The girls made a sign “Welcome home Daddy” and we hung it just over the door to the kitchen.  We had cake and ice cream and celebrated that Daddy was home with us once again.

At that moment, I realized my young daughter did not understand what “dead” meant.  She had apparently thought it was just another injury and that Daddy would be coming home again.

That moment was one of the hardest times of my life.

I sat her down and sadly had to tell her:

“Daddy is dead,  Dead means he will never come home again.”

I still remember her face!

Tears swelled up in her eyes and she fell into my arms and cried.  Clearly her heart was broken.


No one can measure the trauma and pain both my daughters experienced because of their father’s accidental death.  Or the pain I felt seeing them hurting and feeling so inadequate for the task of helping them in this difficult time.

But one thing I learned – and I trust they did too.

Although death – or sometimes divorce or abandonment by a father – can leave us fatherless, we still have a heavenly father who loves and cares for us.

In the months and years ahead I have both experienced that heavenly father’s protection and love for me but also seen His help to my daughters.

I do not pretend to know why my daughters lost their earthly father but I thank God that we have a heavenly father who cares and who helps us when we walk through that valley of the shadow of death – or any other difficult time.

And I praise God that He has given both my daughters a family of their own to love and to have their love.

I also praise God that as a Christian I believe although that little girl’s daddy could not come back home to her – some day she will join him in the new home God has made for them both.

What a great reunion!



Daddy Will Carry It For Me!


My daughter recently spent several weeks in Sierra Leone tutoring the child of a missionary family that was returning to the states for a year and wanted to make sure their daughter was prepared for school in the USA.  My six-year-old granddaughter accompanied her mother on this trip.

It was a great opportunity for my young granddaughter to experience another culture, to try new foods and see how life is so different in other countries.  Hopefully, it has given her a better appreciation for the blessing of being born in the USA.

When she returns to school this fall and the teacher asks everyone what they did this summer, I doubt anyone will be able to top her story.  “I spent weeks in Africa.”  While there she kept a journal and my husband and I have enjoyed listening to her as she showed us the pictures she drew and read to us the comments she made in the journal.  Some of her comments we can read and some have to be “interpreted” as her spelling and printing are still in a “learning” process.

While she did well during her stay in Africa, as she and her mother began the journey back home, her excitement at the thought of seeing her daddy grew with each passing hour on the flight.  Because they were limited in the amount of luggage they could take, my granddaughter had her backpack filled to the brim with necessary items such as sunscreen and insect repellent but also with those items we Americans count as necessary such as an iPad.   The backpack became heavy as she carried it through the airport at each of their layovers.  But my granddaughter knew relief was in sight.  When they left Africa and she put the backpack on she told her mother with great confidence:

When I get home, Daddy will carry it for me.

After I calmed down from the excitement of knowing my daughter and granddaughter were back home safe and sound, I looked at the picture of my granddaughter with her daddy riding down the escalator at the airport.  My son-in-love had her backpack on his back and she was walking free of any burden.  Just as she knew, her daddy was carrying the load for her.

I began thinking of the confidence she had in her daddy.  How did she know he would carry the backpack for her?  Clearly in her six years of life she has found her daddy to be a faithful father.  He has always been there to pick her up when she fell as she learned to walk.  He has always been there to pick her up and swing her over his head and then safely put her down.  He has always been there to sooth her tears when something upset her.  He has always been there taking her to the zoo, to the park, playing games with her.  He has proven to her that he loves her, that he will take care of her and she has confidence in his ability to do just that.

Then I thought of my heavenly father.  How many times has He carried my load for me when it became too much for me?  When my earthly father deserted me, He was there.  When my first husband was accidentally killed, He was there.  When I was told that my cancer was very advanced and very aggressive and “the odds were not in my favor” He was there.  And just in the day-to-day cares of this life, He has always been there.

So I have to ask myself why is it when stressful times come, that I sometimes forget that? How sad it would have been if my granddaughter thought when she saw her daddy that he would refuse to carry her backpack but leave her to continue carrying the burden although she was exhausted from jet lag.

I keep looking at this picture of the two of them as they ride down the escalator with my granddaughter free of the load just comfortably riding down as her daddy manages the suit cases and has the backpack on his back.  He is not ashamed to wear a “My Pony” backpack.  He is not worried about someone laughing at a grown man with a child’s backpack.  His only thought is to help his daughter and to relieve her of her burden.

So Jesus went to the cross for me.  He was not afraid to bear the shame of the crucifixion.  His only thought was to help me (and the whole world) and relieve me of the burden of my sin.

So when problems come in the future, I will go back to this picture and I will say:

My Daddy will carry it for me!



A Father I Can Count On

Father’s Day.  It is always a bittersweet time for me.  Growing up I looked up to my father and wanted to be just like him.  Then, as a teenager my father left our family and after that my relationship with him was very chaotic.  When Father’s Day comes and so many speak of their great fathers, I find myself wanting to feel the same.  My emotions run the gamut from fond memories to times I never want to remember.  I shared these feelings in a post some time ago.  Thank you Dad!

So, another year, another Father’s Day.  In a recent conversation with my pastor, he mentioned a verse in Psalms that he was going to use in his message.  That brought back memories again – but they were memories of my heavenly Father and how He has been such a comfort to me through all these years.  The verse is from Psalm 27 and it says

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

I am so thankful that early on I found God to be not only the Creator, the awesome God, but also a loving father.  How He comforted me when I cried myself to sleep at night missing my Dad, then actually scared of my Dad, then with great pity for my Dad.

I am thankful that my heavenly Father has been one I can count on.  Over the years when trouble came my way, He has been there.  His Word has strengthened me and given me hope.

So today for all who have fathers you can count on, make sure you let  them know how much you appreciate them.  For those whose great fathers are no longer with you, cling to those memories you have.  And for those who fathers were not there for them, I invite you to reach out to the Father you can always count on.  God loves you!


Thank you Dad!

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Growing up, what was your experience with prayer?

This was a question asked at a recent Bible study I attended.  Sitting at a table with eight other women, we went around our table, each woman sharing how prayer did or did not play a role in her family as a child.

As I shared my story of the very important part prayer played, I realized how blessed I was.  Prayer was a very significant part of my home life.  We prayed before each meal.  Those prayers were not memorized or short “Thank you for our food” kind of prayers.  Each family member took their turn in praying for a meal and the prayers were spontaneous – from the heart prayers.  At bedtime we all gathered in our living room, knelt down by the couch or a chair and our Dad would lead us in a prayer.  Any time I was not feeling well or had a problem at school, Dad’s solution was prayer.  We did go to see a doctor when sick, but prayer always came first.

One memorized prayer

Being the youngest in the family, my first prayer at mealtime was a memorized prayer.

God is good, God is great!

And we thank Him for our food!  Amen

At mealtime I would pray my simple prayer first, then another member of my family would say an “adult” prayer.  Shortly after I turned five, my Dad decided I no longer needed to pray that childish prayer, but could just take my turn with the rest of the family praying at mealtime.  However, he did not explain that to me.  We sat down to eat and Dad called on my oldest sister to say the prayer.  She prayed and everyone began eating.  After a few minutes Mom noticed I was not eating and wanted to know what was wrong.  “I didn’t get to pray” was my response.  How could I eat my meal without thanking God for it?  After Dad explained that I did not have to personally pray for the meal before I could eat and that going forward I could take my turn and pray a “real” prayer rather than the memorized one, I was content.

My Dad was my hero!

As a child, he was my hero!  I thought he could walk on water and I wanted to be just like him when I grew up.  He not only taught me the importance of prayer, but he gave me a love for God’s Word.  My earliest memories are of Dad, after a hard day’s work, sitting at the kitchen table reading the Bible.  Along with prayer, reading and studying the Bible was a high priority with him.  He taught me how to use a Bible dictionary, a concordance and commentaries.

Then my hero was gone!

When I turned 14 my father made a 180 degree turn in his life.  He deserted my mother, my sister and me and turned his back on all he had taught me.  Refusing to pay any child support and showing no affection for me, he broke my heart.  My hero died.  As I entered the world of teenagers and then a young adult, one of my greatest desires was to regain a close relationship with my Dad.  But sadly, it never happened.  He remained very critical of me and everything I did.  Every visit I had with him seemed to end up with me either crying or running out of his house in anger.  How I longed for him to say he loved me or to give me a word of praise.  But sadly, it never happened.

Then he was REALLY gone!

A few years ago my father died.  I had long ago forgiven him for deserting me, had long ago forgiven him for his unkind treatment to me.  So when he died, I thought all would be okay.  Surprisingly, I found myself filled with the greatest anger I had every known.  I felt hatred for him.

I struggled with this and prayed for deliverance from this pain.  How could I feel more anger when he was dead than when he was alive?  How could I feel hatred for him when I never felt that emotion when he was alive?  After many months of soul-searching and prayer, I realized that as long as he was alive, I had hope that we would somehow become close again.  That one day I would visit him and hear him say that he loved me or that he was proud of me.  But now, that would never happen.

Anger and hatred finally gone!

After months of prayer, I’m grateful that the anger and hatred subsided in my heart.  But all that was left was a sense of great loss and sadness that the memories of my father were not pleasant ones.

Thank you Dad!

But then, I attended the Bible study on prayer and listened to myself tell how my father taught me the importance of prayer.  What a great gift he gave me!  Although my memories of my dad when I was a teenager and later, an adult, were not pleasant ones, and I never received the love and approval from him that I so desired, I do owe him a great debt.   He taught me one of the most important lessons a person can know – that God loves me and He hears me when I pray.

So – I have a great inheritance for which I am thankful.  It’s my choice to cling to those memories and be grateful!