A year ago, I said goodbye to my Dad.
I said goodbye to being able to physically interact with him.
I said goodbye to conversations and laughs,
traditions, working together, late night phone calls just because.
When I look at these photos, I remember climbing into bed beside him.
And I remember always being able to go to him as a little girl when I was afraid in the night. He would let me snuggle up next to him for as long as I needed.
Or take me downstairs to get a snack of bread and butter with honey
in the middle of the night.
He was there, always.
Tender, quiet, gentle, concerned.
He gave the gifts of strength and confidence and love.
These are really the last photos I have where I can see my father there -- a trace of his smile, his knowing, quiet eyes, the concern and love that he always had for others.
Time was short.
He died just four days later, on a Friday afternoon.
Looking at these today, I am reminded of something
He referenced Good Friday, that Friday of Fridays, long ago,
when the Savior was crucified.
He says "it was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God."
And then he continues with this:
"But the doom of that day did not endure.
The despair did not linger because on Sunday,
the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. ...
And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried.
The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief
now filled the air with wondrous praise."
Then, after pointing us to thinking about the resurrection,
he makes greater application for every aspect of life,
not just when we are facing death.
"Each of us will have our own Fridays---those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again.
We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death---Sunday will come.
In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.
...I testify to you that the Resurrection is not a fable."
I love this so much.
Whether you have kissed someone goodbye, watching life slip from their body,
or just have encountered,
as we all do,
crushing disappointment and sorrow and hardship,
there is hope.
And we all have times where we have to believe that.
My life, over the past year, has been full of many difficult surprises and turns.
There have been so many emotions.
I have had to say goodbye more than once,
and in more than one way or circumstance.
I have felt broken.
I have felt beside myself, not knowing what to do.
I have felt angry and hurt.
I have struggled to feel at peace with myself,
to forgive myself, to move forward.
My heart has ached with sadness.
Even in those Fridays, I have noticed Sunday all throughout.
That is what I am thinking about today.
God doesn't leave us alone.
He sends angels -- in the form of people, and blessings, and comfort, and peace.
He gives you so many reasons to laugh.
In quiet moments, He reassures and steadies.
He blesses you in ways that you feel you don't deserve.
He cleanses and calms your heart by letting you know that Sunday is real.
His great gift is that we can trust Him; we can have hope.
And what I love about it is that hope propels us forward.
It doesn't allow me to sit still and stagnant,
stranded, without a way home.
Hope whispers that all will be well,
that we are in God's tender care,
that we are experiencing exactly those things that we need to.
And, the secret I have found?
That in the moments that you feel you are broken, those cracks become filled with joy and peace and knowledge that doesn't come any other way.
It is there that God offers you "beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." (Isaiah 61:3)
I know this.
His matchless gifts of peace and love fill me with joy.