31 People(s): Daddy

If you’ve been around here any amount of time and/or know me in real life (hi, thanks for reading friends!), you know I lost my dad three+ years ago. I’ve written things about him a few times – Fathers Day for the Fatherless, How to Help Those Who Have Lost, etc. I loved and will always love my dad! With every passing year the grief wound heals a little, but I’ll never not miss him. The first year after he was gone, the monthly anniversary of his death felt like it was ripping the wound back open every single month. On the three month anniversary, one of my best friends encouraged me to make a list of reasons I was thankful for his life. I wrote about it in this post, and I will forever be thankful that I did! He was an amazing man who loved me and my brother FIERCELY and taught me so many things. Things weren’t always great, and I’ll talk about that in a minute because it’s part of my story and his and majorly brings glory to God, but first I want to talk about the great things!

He had the kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. He helped so many people get jobs and get back on their feet. He literally would have given someone the shirt off his back or boots off his feet if it would have helped them. For most of the years of my life, he provided a major sense of security for me. Even if he wasn’t physically there, I knew he was there. His work ethic was ridiculously committed. He always tried to pass that down to me and my brother. I don’t think I’ll ever be as hard-working and dedicated as he was! But I am a hard worker and dedicated, because he taught me that was important. I’m thankful for the things he taught me about money. I’m bad at money! He knew it. But he was so good at it and some things stuck with me. I still won’t apply for credit cards when people ask and my reason still is, “my dad would kill me.” And I’m constantly attempting to be a better saver and manager of money. He modeled forgiveness in a beautiful way. He was one of the most forgiving people I’ve ever met and gave so many chances, over and over and over again. He believed in me like no other! He would always ask me how my cookbook writing was going (he called this blog my cookbook). In his eyes, I was a famous cookbook writer. One day there will be a cookbook, or a book, and his belief in me will be one of the many reasons that happens!

And now, because I think the bad parts of our stories magnify the good, allow God’s glory to shine through, and tell miraculous stories of redemption that lead others to Him – I’m going to share the harder stuff. These are segments of MY story, my literal typed out story that I copied and pasted. For the moments that I get to share the story of what God’s done in my life (my testimony), these are parts of what I share. And duh, I’m a writer and a story-teller so of course I have a typed out version. I even have chapter titles. I’m cheesy like that. I’ve shared my full story several times and parts of my story many times with different groups of people. And though I’m not going to share it ALL here today, I’m not ashamed of it. I think the time will come that I’ll share it for the world to see, maybe even this year, but that time isn’t now. 🙂

From Chapter 1: Crazyland

I affectionately refer to my childhood, adolescence, and family life as Crazyland – characterized by chaos, dysfunction, and addiction. My dad was an alcoholic and a drug addict for all of my childhood and adolescent years. I won’t go into all the chaos I encountered, but I’ll give you a brief summary: parents usually high and/or drunk, constant fighting, life below poverty line, neglect, spent a lot of time scared, cried myself to sleep many nights, saw my dad point a gun at my mom the night he left for good when I was 11 (I knew even then that he wouldn’t shoot her and that he was being drunk and careless, but traumatic nonetheless), divorce, single mom, dad disappeared for a couple of years, more drugs, more neglect, another failed marriage, abuse, more damage, more fear, dad came back in the picture for occasional custody visits, more drugs, more fear, no peace or stability, EVER. Like I said, CRAZYLAND.

From Chapter Five: My Dad

On November 18th, 2012 my dad died. The same man from Crazyland previously mentioned, but a COMPLETELY different man than the aforementioned one. When I was in college my dad met Jesus. I had prayed for him since I was 13 and given up hope many times that Jesus could ever change him. But He did. The life change was undeniable by anyone who knew him. Our relationship was beyond restored. My dad became my rock and constant. He worked mill shut downs, so I wasn’t was able to spend all holidays with him. But, if he was close enough he’d always make a way for my brother and I to be with him. He loved me and took care of me. He answered my car questions and wanted to hear about my life. If I hadn’t called him, he called me every Sunday. He called me every birthday and holiday, even silly ones like St. Patrick’s Day, and wanted to be the first one (waking me up most times) to wish me a happy fill in the blank. He was from a different generation and place, dropped out of school in 9th grade and could barely read. Reading the bible was something he struggled with, but he learned to pray. He prayed for me and my brother everyday. He made us hold hands at dinner and prayed over the meal. He truly was a new man. Unfortunately, the decisions of his past had already started to ruin his body. He had Hepatitis C. Coupled with so many years of alcohol abuse, it lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

My world was shattered. The one sense of family I had left was gone. November to the end of December that year was complete and utter painful misery. I tried to handle grief in my own strength and failed. In desperation, I gave in. I told Jesus I didn’t know what else to do but go to Him and that I didn’t really believe that even He could make it better. I told myself I’d spend time with Jesus every day for two weeks and see if it helped. A this point, I was willing to try anything to escape the collapsing pain I felt. I learned how to make my time with Jesus sacred and special for me and my temperaments and learning styles (I wrote about this once too). My entire life, spending time with Jesus was a struggle, an obligation I rarely had time for. But I gave him the most feeble attempt at an inch that I could, and he relentlessly pursued my back miles and miles. Spending time with Him became something I needed and wanted to do because He loved me and I loved Him, not an obligation. God also used my dad’s death to reconcile some other relationships in my family. I still miss my dad EVERY day and wish he was here, but I fully know God used his death and sickness to draw me back to Him.

From Chapter Six: Here and Now

I’m closer to God now than I’ve ever been. I have a need for Jesus every day. I had the need before, but I was never able to fully surrender. I thought I was strong enough to do life with my own strength and abilities. Jesus makes me loving, Jesus heals my heart, Jesus gives me hope. Any of my former faking it to appear to have it all together abilities were ripped away when my dad died and left me in a raw surrendered form that the Holy Spirit could actually change.

I’m thankful for every bit of the life I’ve lived – even the loss and hurt. I’m thankful for how it echoes God’s presence throughout. I’m thankful for who I am because of what I’ve been through. I’m also thankful that it doesn’t define me. I’m thankful for redemption and that God makes beautiful things out of brokenness. I’m thankful that God released me and healed me from living in the lies and shadows of my past. I’m thankful that he freed me from feeling like I have to hide behind the shame of baggage, the past, or sin. I’m thankful that vulnerability breeds vulnerability and that He allows the sharing of our stories to break down walls and transform lives.

My life verse used to be Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you,” because so much of my life was characterized by chaos and I needed God’s protection. Since my dad’s death my new verse is Romans 4:18, “In hope he believed against hope.” I still need God’s protection, but instead of waiting for the next chaotic thing, I choose to believe in “hope against hope” and His relentless redemption of our lives and stories.

I know these last three posts haven’t been as warm and fuzzy as posts about my imaginary TV friends, SBC, or my beautiful, hilarious, and wonderful friends (and are probably all collectively what held me up from finishing this project), but they all point to/end with the warmest and fuzziest thing of all – hope. The bad and sad are harder to talk about, but so necessary! The Gospel changes EVERYTHING! It heals hurt, it redeems the bad and sad, it changes lives. Let’s not be afraid to share the hard things so that God’s glory can shine through them!


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

31 People(s): Lifesavers

This is probably THE post that has subconsciously held me up from finishing this stupid challenge. And by stupid I mean great and wonderful. But you know, feeling like calling it stupid right now since it’s three months after I meant to finish it and haven’t yet. It’s the darkest one. The hardest one. The one that I can’t really tie up with a pretty bow like I do all the others. I’ve thought a million times about just eliminating it and picking something random like the 35 crushes I had in college to write about instead (that’s a real number), but I knew I needed to write it. So I’m going to. And then we’re just gonna move on and wear sparkles, okay? Okay.

In reality, all the people I’ve written about, especially Jesus over and over and over again, but all of these other amazing people that I get to call mine, have been lifesaving forces. But above and beyond, Jesus put two people in my life in the darkest season I’ve ever walked through to save and change my life. So many people I’ve known, watched, and heard of, myself majorly included, go through life all the way into adulthood thinking they’re 100% totally okay and have this thing called life figured out regardless of the things they’ve been through.

Facts are facts and science is science and there are a whole lot of people out there a lot smarter than me who by studying the human brain and body figured out that humans simply can’t just compartmentalize all our baggage and hurts and scars and move on. Things have to be dealt with, worked through, healed from. Healing doesn’t happen by simply picking ourselves up by our boot straps and moving on. Surviving is necessary at times, many times, especially in trauma and tragedy, but eventually we have to deal with it all. When we don’t deal with it, it manifests itself and spills over into all sorts of things until we’re forced to deal with it. Until I was 26, I WAS OKAY. I had been through a lot, a lot of things no child, teenager, or adult should have to deal with, but I was okay, okay?!

But I wasn’t. Once upon a time (back in 2009) when I started this blog as one of many efforts to battle that dark season, I wrote this post. I was vague, and for the sake of not writing a book in this single post, I won’t divulge every detail of my story now. However, because I think it’s important, because I want to be real when I say I’m passionate about vulnerability and transparency, and because I think Satan is squashed and God is glorified when we talk about the hard things, I’m going to dig a little deeper. During that season of life when everything bubbled up and demanded to be dealt with, I started seeing a counselor. I had been to a counselor once before in college, but I was convinced I was okay, and told her I was too. I thought she believed me; in hindsight I think she knew I wasn’t, but knew I had to realize that myself first.

The trigger that finally broke me was some new and hard stuff that happened with my family. It can most easily be summed up as rejection. As a result, I started having nightmares. Because I didn’t want to have those nightmares, I stopped sleeping. I was in grad school at the time and decided to see the school nurse because not sleeping seemed unhealthy. She encouraged me to see a counselor and put me on sleeping medication. Counseling was a free resource since I was a student and she knew I needed it. I started going because I knew I needed to, but I didn’t want to. Having to deal with the new stuff and delve into the old stuff HURT! It was a necessary kind of hurt; healing doesn’t come without pain. Lack of sleep and trying to work through hard stuff while simultaneous continuing to try and avoid dealing with the hard stuff lead to a pretty bad case of clinical depression. I was on sleeping medicine, depression medicine, and then also developed social anxiety. I’d drive or walk to my class and not be able to force myself to go in. I was down to only one class and it was an online class. I just couldn’t do it.

I really do believe the thing that kept me wanting to wake up every morning was my job. I was a nanny to a precious little girl name Addie. Addie is one of my lifesavers. I experienced some suicidal thoughts when I was a teenager, but even through a terrible season of depression and hopelessness as an adult, my thoughts didn’t go there and I think one of the many reasons for that was Addie. I really think baby cuddles have healing powers. Soon I couldn’t even hang on to my one class and therefore had to leave. No apartment, no school, no job, no Addie, and no counselor. A friend and her parents took me in until I got back on my feet. People from my Slidell church were able to get me connected with a new counselor that graciously agreed to see me for free since I didn’t have a job at the moment.

Enter into the picture lifesaver number 2. My counselor before was necessary, but I was avoidant and not fully ready. Desperation was the kick in the pants I needed to make some things happen. I eventually got a social work job, a place to live, and was back in Slidell with the people that I wasn’t ready to let go of yet. For almost a year and a half I met with that wonderful lady once a week. Counseling days were hard, a good kind of hard, but hard nonetheless. I’m a healthy human on the inside now because of her. Friends are great, WONDERFUL gifts from the Lord, but so are counselors. God gifts and calls people to this career and some of us (maybe most of us) really need them!

The difference in a friend and a counselor is that when your friend tries to argue with you and tell you that God loves you (insert any other truth you don’t want to believe) and you argue back and are convinced He doesn’t, you usually win because you’re pretty dang good at arguing and fighting to believe the lies you cling to. Because your friend loves you, they probably get frustrated and hurt and sad AS THEY SHOULD, because they care. Counselors care too, but it’s different. You can tell your counselor over and over again that you can’t and don’t and won’t believe that, and they’ll let you say those things. They won’t get frustrated, but they also don’t let you win. They know how to get to the root of the lies. They know how to teach you how to fight the lies and how to really stop believing them (cognitive behavior therapy). They know, and studied for MANY hours and days and years, how your brain works and how the things that have happened to you shaped you beyond your power or knowledge.

I BELIEVE IN COUNSELORS! Mine saved my life. Not just in a literal since of the word in that if I didn’t learn all of that I probably would have ended up wondering if life was worth living again or coping in unhealthy ways that likely lead to a quicker death. But also, because of her I learned how to have a full and happy life despite my circumstances. THAT IS LIFESAVING! I will add this little tidbit that is subjective, but I’m passionate about it. I think Christian counselors are the way to go. I’ve been to both. There is a difference. I think ALL counselors are great. I am an advocate. Go! But if you’re a believer, go with a Christian counselor. Cognitive behavior therapy is cognitive behavior therapy, Christian or not, BUT, if you’re a believer, counseling and cognitive behavior therapy through a Gospel lens is vital and life-changing.

To sum up all these jumbled words, a sweet little girl named Addie unintentionally poured into my life in a  way that made me love that part of my life and made me want to fight to love more parts of my life. My amazing counselor intentionally poured into my life in a way that changed me forever and taught me how to never stop fighting for the abundant life promised me (and all believers). Because of counseling and God’s hand in it I learned A LOT of things and overcame A LOT of things. But the biggest most life-changing thing I learned is this: Shame is one of the biggest obstacles that prevents healing from actually taking place and it doesn’t belong anywhere. Shame is not the same thing as guilt and it simply DOES NOT BELONG in our hearts and heads.

I learned that children of dysfunctional families, children of addicts, and those who have experienced abuse and neglect whether it was seeing their loved ones suffer those things and/or personally experiencing those things (both in my case) survive because they have to, but their insides are changed in ways beyond their control and they don’t even know! Many of those children become adults who unknowingly have an identity defined by shame. When your identity becomes shame-based, you simply can’t get rid of that without retraining your brain. Guilt is an emotion felt over a behavior or action (or failure to act). Even guilty feelings sometimes lie and have to be evaluated against truth. But shame? Shame is an ugly word! Shame is self-condemnation. Shame doesn’t feel bad about a behavior or action, it feels bad (worthless, small, defective) about the person who committed the action – you. Shame is always a lie.

Cognitive behavior therapy retrains your thoughts. It’s hard. It’s ugly. It takes a LONG time and a LOT of effort. But it works. Most of us probably struggle with believing lies. Some are surface, some are deeply rooted. Deeply rooted lies that have become part of how you define yourself and are second nature to think and believe, require HARD work to get rid of. It’s worth it. It’s SO SO worth it. Shame and living an abundant life don’t coexist. I think and hope you probably know that when I say abundant life I don’t mean a life full of wealth or things. It is possible to materialistically live an abundant life and cling to shame, BUT not the kind of abundant life Jesus promised. For kicks I googled “define abundant life” just to see what the internets said. Even Wikipedia, the most reliable source for information (sarcasm) gets it! “Abundant life refers to life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul. Abundant life signifies a contrast to feelings of lack, emptiness, and dissatisfaction.”

Shame doesn’t belong! My life is abundantly full now despite my circumstances, a life that was always mine (and yours) to have, because shame no longer exists. I love myself – my face, my body, my mind, my quirks. I love my life – my people, my story, my scars. I love my Jesus – more than life and no longer want to hide from Him even when I mess up (and I do OFTEN). And I know He fiercely loves me, chose me, and came to “take sin and bear shame” – my sin, my shame – on the cross. FOREVER. I couldn’t say any of those things for myself before and in the thick of counseling. I believed God loved you, but not me. I believed I loved Jesus, but not enough and didn’t deserve to. Finding and replacing those lies freed me up to live an abundant life. Being able to live that kind of life saved my life because that kind of life is worth living. SHAME DOESN’T BELONG!

(Note: I still have bad days and lies still rear their ugly heads! Like my 2009 self said: “Acceptance is the end. And I personally think the last stage is lifelong. Like a cool scar. A story to be told. And in the case of these life scars, a God’s glory scar.”) 


This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.

How to Help Those Who Have Lost

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” -Anne Lamott

When I first lost my dad, people asked me all the time how they could help me. When a little time had passed and people knew I was comfortable talking about it, they’d ask me how they could help others in their lives who were grieving. I actually did some research by asking many people I knew had lost people recently and not so recently. I don’t have heaps of wisdom or advice, but I’m going to share what I do know. I meant to write this a long time ago. A long, long time ago when my grief was still really fresh. Little did I know it would get “fresh” again the closer the year mark and holidays get and be a perfectly timed reminder and therapeutic thing for me to write.

The biggest thing to know and remember about grief is that every person grieves differently. Therefore, the number one thing you have to do is ASK. Yes, grieving people are fragile, but we’re not as fragile as you think we are. Asking us how you can help us is not going to make us break into a million pieces. We might cry when you ask, but you can handle it! Just hug us, or pat us comfortingly on the back, or just sit there. We’ll stop crying eventually and be able to tell you. And, we might not even cry in that moment! Asking a grieving person how you can help them, actually meaning it, and waiting for an answer, is the best first thing you can do.

Some people want to be alone. Some people want people there. Some people might want you there while they cry. Some people might want you there to do something that feels normal and gets their mind off things. Some people might need you to bring them a meal. Some people might need you to watch Netflix with them. Some people might need you to make them get up and fix their hair. It changes. It’s not a cut and dry cycle. In the first weeks, lots of people will be around. Lots of people will care. Lots of people will help. But as the time passes, the helping and caring people fade.

And grief, though it may change and go in and out of tougher cycles, it doesn’t fade as quickly as the helping and caring people do. If you have a friend that you genuinely care deeply about and want to walk with them through this hard time, I think the biggest thing you can do is to remember that it’s not over for them. All these suggestions are for expected grief moments. There are two different kinds of grief moments. The expected and the unexpected. Since the unexpected are, well, unexpected, it’s hard to plan for them! But I have a theory that if we plan for and have people who intentionally care about our expected moments, it will be easier to reach out to them when the unexpected, sometimes even harder, moments hit.

Get out your calendar and remember the important and more difficult days with and for them. Grief comes in moments and memories, but for a lot of people it also comes with dates. They might reach out to you when overwhelming moments come from unexpected moments and memories, but every person I asked, male, female, old, young, new loss, old loss, said they would never get angry or be annoyed if someone remembered their hard days. And, if you intentionally remember these expected grief times with them, they are more likely to reach out to you when the unexpected grief hits.

My dad died on November 18th. November to January was awful. For the first 6 – 8 months the 18th of every month was hard. I learned to expect it and know it would be hard. The 11th month was the first month that the 18th didn’t get to me. I’ve been told that after the first year, the monthly anniversaries aren’t hard, but the big expected ones continue to be difficult days. Do unexpected grief moments still come? Yes! And there simply isn’t anything any of us can do about those. But remembering the expected ones means a lot to someone who has lost.

Dates to remember: 

  • in the first year, the monthly date anniversary
  • the yearly anniversary
  • father’s days/mother’s day (if a parent)
  • the lost loved one’s birthday
  • when it’s a lost spouse, the wedding anniversary
  • holidays 

What can you do on those days? Nothing fancy is required! One of my best friends asked me early on how she could help and be there for me from afar (she lives in Georgia, I live in Mississippi). She added the 18th as a monthly reminder. On the 18th of every month faithfully this year she has text me and simply told me she knows what the day is, is praying for me, and asked me how I was. It meant the world to me! It wasn’t fancy, but it was perfect. Simply letting them know, “hey, I know what today is, I know it might and probably will be a rough day, and I’m thinking about you,” means so much.

On Father’s day my friend helped my other friend who lost her dad this year also and I host an intimate dinner party where we cooked our dad’s favorite things and invited “safe” people to remember them with us. Another person I asked questions to about her grief, said on her dad’s birthday she often asked friends to go out to eat to celebrate his memory.

For holidays, make sure they have places to go. Help them come up with a proactive plan to make it through the holiday season, especially in the first couple of years. Grief is magnified during the holidays because it was often the time you saw your loved one most.

Also help them proactively plan for the year anniversary and other years if it’s still hard. That’s not just from me either! It’s from multiple counselors. Being proactive is the wisest thing a grieving person can do. If they can’t be proactive on their own, help them come up with a plan. On the weeks and days leading up to the big hard days (especially the first year anniversary, feeling the effects of how hard that one is now), check on them. Pray for them and let them know you are praying for them. Be patient with them! They probably already feel like they are being a burden and that everyone else thinks they should be more okay than they feel. Let them know it’s okay! Make them feel like how they feel is normal. Don’t expect them to come to you. They might! But they also might not have the emotional strength. Go to them. Initiate.

And lastly, I can’t stress patience enough! I like words and quotes, so naturally I’ve googled “grief quotes” a lot. One quote that I didn’t quite agree with says the grief doesn’t change you, it reveals you… How I hope that isn’t true, haha. I’ve been a mess at many different moments throughout this year. I was mean to people. I forgot how to filter my thoughts and feelings and just spilled them all out to everyone, pushing many people away. I was destructive at different times. I’m not how I was before I lost, but I’ve figured out how to be balanced again. Be patient. If they are mean to you, they probably don’t mean to be. If they are making bad choices coping with their grief, help them find their way back to truth and non-destructive ways in love, not condemnation. Don’t give up on them. Be patient.

To summarize my rambly advice on how to love grieving people well:

Ask. Remember. Pray. Plan. Patience. Normalize. Initiate. 

And in case you need inspirational motivation or a reminder of why you should care and/or do this for the people in your life, scripture is full of them. God had a heart for orphans, widows, the fatherless  and the mourning, we should too. 

Romans 12: 15-16a
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.”

James 1: 27

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Deuteronomy 10:18

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.”

Psalm 68: 4-6a
“Rejoice before him—his name is the LordA father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing;”

Psalm 149: 9
“The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow.”

Isaiah 1:17
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

And in an effort to be transparent and vulnerable, I do ask for your prayers. Today is November 14th, November 18th is in four days. I feel it. Every day closer is heavier. I am struggling with default defense mechanisms to be destructive and numb pain. Before noon today I had already had two of those unexpected grief moments and had to just let the tears fall like they needed to and then was fine. Not that death is ever or can ever be timed well, but my loss happens to bleed in to the holidays and most of my big hard days are all grouped together. Maybe it’s a blessing to have them so concentrated and not so spread out. Nonetheless, still pray for my brother, my step mom, me, and all the people in your life who have lost.

My upcoming expected grief dates:

  • yearly anniversary – November 18th
  • Thanksgiving – November 28th
  • Christmas – December 25th
  • dad’s birthday – December 26th 
If you have lost, please share your dates with me! I’d love to be able to pray for you and encourage you on your expected hard days. 

Father’s Day for the Fatherless

I began writing this as a Facebook status update after waking up again this week, the week leading up to Father’s Day, with heaviness. It started to get long, and then it hit me in my pre-caffeinated state that I have a blog. Duh!

Father’s Day. It’s this week. It’s in just a few days. I’m sure you knew. It’s everywhere. Every advertising email reminds us to get a gift for Father’s Day. Every commercial is full of ideas for Father’s Day gifts. Even Food Network shows are offering meal ideas in abundance. Kroger even has manly food on sale. It’s everywhere. 

I beg you all to not just pray for me or my brother this Father’s Day, but for anyone who lost a father this year or any year. They (counselors, fellow grievers, grief books and blogs) say the first year of every holiday is the worst. Father’s Day feels like a different kind of worse. It’s sort of like waiting for a category five hurricane to hit or waiting for a tornado to pass while hiding in your bathroom when the sirens go off. It’s heavy. It’s scary. I read this from a blog by someone who lost their dad 10 years ago, 

“Ever since, I have felt the most raw and exposed on Father’s Day and on the anniversary of the day he died, Feb. 15. It’s like a wild hunger. No amount of time could ever fully heal the pain. Father’s Day, in particular, will always make that hole inside me feel deeper because my loss becomes a lot more obvious. While everyone else is gathering to show their love for their dad, I am in mourning.”  (from The Globe and Mail)

And he wrote that 10 years after losing his dad. So remember the fatherless in your life this Father’s Day. Celebrate! Enjoy your dad. Love him. Buy him a gift no matter how silly or last minute it is. Make him his favorite cake, even if it’s from a box. Tell him you love him. Take a picture with him, you probably don’t have enough. Call him. Do anything and everything you can. And when you’re done enjoying every possible moment with your dad you can, pray for us. The fatherless, the widows, the ones without their sons or brothers this Father’s Day. 

And if my plea and words aren’t convincing enough, I’m pretty sure the Heavenly Father is okay with you thinking and praying for us too. 

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10: 17-18

“When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.” Deuteronomy 24:19-21 

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10:14 

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” Psalm 82:3

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

If you’re fatherless this Father’s Day, grieve how you need to! If you need to skip church and the Father’s Day service every church will inevitably have, you have permission. Take your Bible somewhere else and spend some time with Jesus. He knows you’re hurting. Take at least a moment in the day to let the Heavenly Father love you. Cry, weep, mourn. And then if you’re up for it, remember. Remember him.

I’m not going to church Sunday either. Or to Starbucks, too many people that might see me cry. I’m going to a coffee shop that’s a little quieter on Sundays, spending time with my Heavenly Father on my own. I’ll cry. Well, I’ll cry more. This whole week has been full of tears. But I’ll cry. And then I’ll remember with people who can handle it and understand that it’s okay to be sad and happy at the same time. The mother of the son who wrote the blog post I quoted earlier puts a yearly memorial in their local paper that reads, “My happiness is filled with sadness without you to share it with.”

Grieve how you need to! If that means being alone, it’s okay! But if you don’t want to be alone, surround yourself with people who will remember with you. I am planning a remember meal for my brother, my friend who also lost her dad this year, our friend who loves us, and myself. The whole meal will be made up of the favorite foods of my dad and my friend’s dad. There will be a lot, but my favorite plan is to make my dad’s favorite cake, German Chocolate. I’ve made it for him before, but used a box cake and pre-made icing. It’s always been a somewhat scary task, HOMEMADE German Chocolate cake, but I’m proudly taking on the challenge for him.

Real Life: Celebrate Victories

I know you’re all probably like, “Why do you keep talking?! Give us recipes already!” Don’t worry! I have them, pictures and everything. I’ve just been inspired lately with random bits of unsolicited encouragement and inspiration. First leopard flats and being you, now motivational celebrating victories talk. Tomorrow? A recipe! I promise. (Don’t hate me if I break that promise, I have it prepped and ready! But you know what happens sometimes when I promise.)


Five weeks ago I started a boot camp. An intense boot camp. Some of my boot camp buddies and our trainer/killer (the one guy) are in the picture above. A little history about my weight loss/getting healthy journey. I’ve always struggled with weight. I’ve been chubby since I was two. In high school I wanted to lose weight because I thought being a certain size made be beautiful, worthy, or cool. I never wanted to try just for me until two years ago. Two years ago I started Weight Watchers. Prior to those two years I was the biggest I had ever been. I was defeated in so many areas of life. A new job, a new year, a new/old state, a new beginning, and closure of two years of counseling where I learned to love myself for the first time led me to think clearly and without defeating thoughts! I decided I wanted to do Weight Watchers for me and my health, not because skinny was pretty or to find self worth, but just for me. My mom and dad had both had heart attacks since I graduated from college. My dad was having serious health issues which later lead to liver cancer and later lead to death. I wanted to be healthy! I didn’t want to be a statistic of family genes and bad lifestyle choices. And for the first time, I knew I could do it. I believed in myself. The defeated thoughts were no more (okay not completely true, they come back often, but after counseling I knew how to recognize the defeating lies and combat them). In the first three months of Weight Watchers, I lost 25 pounds without working out at all, just counting points (it REALLY is a great program and I’ll always be an advocate for it). When I started to plateau, I added in some working out. I was proud of myself the day I worked up to one hour on the eliptical! Especially since the first time I did it I could only do five minutes.
Yep. I took a picture and will always save it. A milestone worth remembering. Then I had toe surgery… Not allowed to wear tennis shoes for two weeks. Two WEEKS?! Two weeks is a lot when you’re finally in working out [almost] everyday mode. I was introduced to water aerobics which I fell in love with and did faithfully for a while. They I started doing two classes a day! Zumba and water aerobics. And then… I got pneumonia. No working out for at least two week again. After than my dad starting get worse, life was harder, and I would work out here and there but pretty much had given up until boot camp. I had lost 43 pounds with Weight Watchers, but gained half of it back over holidays and losing my dad. I say all that to say, working out is NOT natural for me, ever, at all. I like how I feel after I do it, but I hate doing it. I hate sweating, I hate wearing work out clothes, it’s NOT natural for me. It’s hard and I have to work at it. After four weeks of boot camp and losing no weight (in fact, I gained!), I was getting frustrated! Yes I felt better, could tell in my clothes, had more energy, knew I was gaining muscle and getting healthier, but no weight loss was a serious motivation killer! I finally decided I wasn’t going to focus on the numbers and just give it my all. Last night, for the first time in my life, I didn’t finish last at something requiring physical activity!

I was third out of six! I can’t say I’ve ever been so proud of myself! I mean, it was AWFUL! I hated every moment, but when I got to huff and puff out the word “FINISHED” to my trainer and write down my time and not be the last one everyone was sympathetically (okay really it’s encouraging, TOTALLY encouraging and the best intentions possible, but still embarrassing when you’re last) cheering on at the end as they were all already finished. I felt empowered and awesome! I finally decided to weigh myself this morning after not doing so in two weeks and… I LOST 10 LBS!

Let’s celebrate victories guys! Every small victory that isn’t small at all. Taking the effort to work out when you haven’t been doing so at all is a victory. One pound lost is a victory. Not getting out of breath when you walk up the hill to work, it’s a victory! Working out three days a week when you previously worked out none, victory! Loose pants, victory. Making it three laps around the gym without have to slow to a walk which you’ve had to do every other time, victory! Looking in the mirror and loving who you see before you, VICTORY! Not believing the lies that Satan (it’s him, it’s really him) tells you about yourself, VICTORY! Getting up early to spend time with Jesus when before you “never had enough time,” VICTORY! Asking for forgiveness, forgiving yourself, accepting grace that none of us deserve but get instead of living in self-condemnation, VICTORY! Choosing to grieve losses in a healthy way instead of letting yourself get numb and avoidance, victory, big, huge, not small at all, victory.

Yesterday was the three month anniversary of my dad no longer being here. I miss him all the time, a lot. I never want to stop missing him or forget him or anything about him. The thought of not missing him, not thinking about him, or not remembering him makes me want to cry more than actually missing him. I decided on the month two anniversary to set a monthly reminder. Not to dwell in sadness, but just to never forget. The reminder is simply titled, “Remember.” Like I’ve said, and everyone says, a million times, we all grieve differently. For me, remembering is good. You know I’m on this goal kick, weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes hard, sometimes simple goals. My accountability partner helps me come up with them sometimes. For Monday, the three month anniversary, we came up with three goals. 1. Come up with five reasons I’m thankful for my dad. 2. Freak out if you need to freak out, feel what you need to feel, cry if you need to cry. 3. Bake something. Why? Well baking makes me feel good and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Feeling good and accomplished are good things to feel on potentially sad days.

So I did it! I’m thankful that he had the kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. He helped so many people get jobs and get back on their feet. He literally would have given someone the shirt off his back or boots off his feet if it would have helped them. I’m thankful for the sense of security he always provided, coming from a land of crazy family life. Even if he wasn’t physically there, I knew he was there. I’m thankful for his work ethic that he [tried] to pass down to me. I could never be as hard and as dedicated of a worker as he was! But I am a hard worker and dedicated, because he taught me that was important. I’m thankful for the things he taught me about money. I’m bad at money! He knew it. But he was so good at it and some things stuck with me. I still won’t apply for credit cards when people ask and my reason still is, “my dad would kill me.” Lastly, I’m thankful for how he modeled forgiveness. He was one of the most forgiving people I’ve ever met and gave so many chances, over and over and over again.

AND I baked a Skillet Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding. What goes best with bread pudding? Caramel sauce! I haven’t attempted caramel again since my three times of failing at it last summer. I’ve continued to make cheating caramel sauce (brown sugar, butter and cream), but even after buying the pan I didn’t have and knew I needed to make successful caramel, I was still scared. I decided the “remember” day was as good of a day as any to try again. And I did it! I also decided I will make a point, almost for every “remember” day to do something that makes me proud of me, like defeating caramel! It was a good thing to feel on a sad day.

Oh, and I did cry and feel. I cried yesterday and I cried while writing this, while proof reading it, and while re-proof reading it. And it was okay. I was okay. I am okay. Crying is okay! Okay? (Could I possibly say okay any more?)

So all that rambling to say, CELEBRATE VICTORIES! Silly ones like waking up early. Making good life choices ones like choosing the salad instead of the pizza, losing one pound, not finishing last, or working out more than you did last week. Spiritual freedom ones like spending time with Jesus, conquering a sin with His help, or learning to love yourself and not be self condemning. And serious, big deal, healing ones, like remembering the loved ones you’ve lost, facing grief instead of numbing it, and figuring out what helps you heal and grieve in healthy ways.


Let’s celebrate victories. Our own. Each others. Let’s agree to this okay? It’s a simple, good thing to do.