Faith, family, Uncategorized

My Dad’s First Morning in Heaven

I knew the day would come when I would write about this day, and since this month marks the 4 year anniversary of a very memorable day, it seems like the right time to do so.

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On May 8, 2015, my Dad took his final journey beyond his temporary, earthly home and spent his first morning in heaven.

As with most families, there is an unspoken history which in these final moments of his life, became irrelevant. At least for that day, and that time, all that was in the past could be hushed into silence.

 

I will forever be thankful that I was able to spend those final moments with my Dad, though I had never witnessed the passing away of anyone before. If you have read my previous story about  The Day I Said Goodbye To My Sister , you know that my heart has always felt regret about not being present with my sister and the rest of my family at the time of her death.

But on this day, when the Lord called my Dad to come home, I was there, along with two of my sisters. 

img_3951My days at that time were full of the responsibilities of children, babysitting grandchildren and most of my calendar days were marked with activity, as was this singular Friday morning. So I truly believe that God worked on my behalf and cleared my schedule. When my sister phoned early that morning to say that the nursing facility had called to inform us that he was going, I was able to say “I’m on my way”.

When I arrived at my Dad’s room, Gwen was already there by his side as he lay in the bed. My sister Debbie arrived shortly thereafter.

 

As I think of that day, I’ve realized that by the time we arrived, his spirit had already begun the process of leaving this world. I believe his vision was already opened to the heavenly realm and he was preparing to meet his Savior, the One he preached about for many, many years. The words of that precious song which he sang over and over again throughout his ministry, “I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy”, were soon to be lived out by this man who had stated many times in his life that if he couldn’t be used by God, then he was ready to go heaven.

 

He mumbled his words and though severely weakened, he was adamant that he wanted to sit in his wheelchair. So with the nurse’s help, we got him into his chair. My sisters sat on each side of him and I stood behind him with my arms around his neck to support him, and he immediately relaxed and began his journey home.

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I cannot fathom how a time such as this can be both heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. All I can say is that I know without a doubt that had I been able to see what my Dad’s eyes were fixed upon, I would have understood why he was so excited to get there. You see, I have a theory about why he wanted so badly to sit up in his chair. I believe he just wanted to get up and stroll right through to the other side and sitting up just put him a little bit closer. I believe he wanted to rise up to meet his Jesus!

 

Both of my sisters have remarked about how peaceful it was. He knew we were there and we knew he loved us, but no longer could the affections or concerns of this life be enough to hold him here, because Jesus was saying, “Come on home, my son, your work is done”. We told him how much we loved him, the sisters holding his hands, as I ever so softly hummed that beautiful song into his ear, until quietly and blissfully, our Dad left this world and met his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

It was a profound day for me. A difficult yet precious experience which I will cherish within my heart always.

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Being the youngest of eight siblings, by the time I was born, my Dad had already chosen to leave my family. Though hundreds and hundreds of miles separated us and he was not a constant presence in my life, there were a few occasions throughout my childhood when I was able to see him, and I grew to love him very much. Much later in his life, he made a bold move and relocated to be near his children.

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I will always be grateful that I had the last twenty-some years of my Dad’s life in which to build lasting memories, to sing together, and that my children were able to know their Grandpa Bill.

After sharing this experience of my Dad’s passing, my sister said a couple of things that has stayed with me.

572a8c34-1920-4987-a5d9-c7467d360902First, that though Dad wasn’t with me on the day that I entered this world, I was there for him when he left it.

The second thing she said is what means the most to me and I will always hold it in my heart. She said, “Teresa (my oldest sibling) was the first one of us to put her arms around our Dad, and I was the last“.

(“I Bowed On My Knees and Cried Holy” written by Nettie Dudley Washington, music written by E.M. Dudley Cantwell)

 

Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 4-Revisited

This is the finale to my four-part “Homespun Christmas” series, which I am re-posting this Christmas season. It has been nice to fondly reminisce once again about Christmases long ago, as well as more recent celebrations.

From my home to yours, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas as you revisit your own memories of holidays from the past, and create new memories to cherish in the future.

May God truly bless each and everyone of you.

~ Robin

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When I think about what Christmas looks like to me, in fact the whole holiday season, it would not be complete unless all the enduring elements which I’ve come to expect are included in the picture.

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The adorning of the house with all the colors and symbols of Christmas time, digging through the stored-away bins of decorations like a character straight out of Whoville. Somehow, every year it’s still a fond exercise in tradition.

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Then there are Christmas cookies and all kinds of baked deliciousness in which we indulge, forcing back those pesky feelings of guilt and shame. After all, it is Christmas, and our New Year resolutions haven’t begun yet.

So we bake the cookies, we make the candy and fudge, we go to those holiday parties and enjoy this special once-a-year celebration!

 

 

Lastly, I love to see at least a little bit of snow during the Christmas season. It just feels right! I hang my ‘Let it Snow’ sign in hopes that it will come, at least for Christmas eve.

 

 

Aside from these, there are the things which you can’t buy, or bake. They are the gifts which we hold in our hearts, and the presence of those we love and cherish, when we lay aside the challenges in our relationships and choose peace and goodwill at least for now.

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The most precious of those unseen gifts are the memories of the ones we miss, especially during this time of the year. I understand all too well that the memories are not all good, some are painful and sad and irreparable, and we work through that the best we can, but still…. they are missed.

(This is my Dad ‘aka Santa’, several years before he took his journey to heaven)

 

For some, this will be a first. A first Christmas without a brother, an sister, a friend. I have my list, as I’m sure you do, too.

 

The decorations, the cookies, and the snow… of course all of those things are momentary.

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling. How could it be so? It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more?” ~ Dr. Seuss

 

Truly, Christmas is a matter of the heart…. a heart for family… a heart for goodwill……. the heart of a Savior, full of love for mankind, the brilliant star which outshines all the other details of my perfectly painted picture of Christmas.

 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8

 

…the best gift of all!

 

(Photos by Robin Abrams-A Song In My Heart)

 

 

 

 

Faith, family, Home Life, Uncategorized

The Perfect Gift For All

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If you are following the re-posting of my 4 part “Homespun Christmas” series, here is the link to Part 3, in which I share more precious memories of Christmas pasts. Thank you very much for all your support for these stories. I love writing them, and it blesses me so much that you enjoy reading them.

A Homespun Christmas Part 3

In all honesty, my mind is having a difficult time this year fully embracing the usual ‘holly jolly’ spirit of the season. I see the beautiful decorations and lights, the store isles lined with gift ideas and wrapping paper of all colors and patterns. My eyes are seeing everything that defines ‘Christmas’ to the world, but the excitement of the season is elusive thus far.

I don’t mean to put a damper on anyone’s holiday cheer, truly. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved Christmas time, and still do. I love holiday baking, family get togethers and the songs of the season. I remember many, many Christmases that were full of all the elation and anticipation of the season and I know there will be many more of those to come.

This year, however, my thoughts are drawn to more than ornaments and gifts. I think of things that will never be found cleverly arranged on a store shelf, displayed with a price tag.
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Things like true and lasting “peace and goodwill“, which calms the hearts of men who are bent on self-destruction. This precious gift you won’t find in Santa’s sack of presents, for it begins far above any visible realm our earthly eyes can see. This kind of peace and goodwill originates from the very heart of God, which beats with the purest love for man.

He sent that perfect love to earth in the form of the a babe, His only Son, Jesus Christ. His gift to man…. the Savior of the world. The perfect gift.

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14