On March 13, 2020 I got to sing in a private concert in my hometown to an audience of one, my Dad.
That morning after a long night where my sister took the night shift caring for our dad (like she and mom had done so many times before), I took the morning shift, caring for him, making sure he had everything he needed while she got some much needed rest and a shower. While with Dad, I chose just to sit with him and overcome by all the emotions that I was feeling, I didn’t know what else to do except for sing. It wasn’t a huge vocal performance or a power ballad; it was more of a whispered prayer – trying to wrap my head around what the next hours might be like being next to my Dad before he took his journey to see our Jesus. And while I was sitting there, I was just whispering a song (I don’t even recall what song I started out singing). All of a sudden, Dad tried to raise up a little in his bed and he said, “Lord I’m amazed!”, to which I said, “Ok, Dad, let’s sing that”, so I began to sing, “Lord I’m amazed by you, Lord I’m amazed by You. Lord I’m amazed by You, How You love me…”. I can’t help but think that in those fading hours, God was giving my father little glimpses of what was to come. Little glimpses of where he would be transitioning to once he closed his eyes on this earth.
I have often said it felt like I was dancing with eternity; taking one hand and one step in a direction I’ve not experience before, knowing that at any moment the music and the dance would stop. Eternity felt so close and so tangible in the room in Greeley. We were all feeling God‘s presence in the midst of feeling loss and in the midst of feeling ache, not yet fully understanding how deep that ache would be.
I finished the song that day and we carried on. We continued to just wait and hope, and love and care, and hug and cry and laugh, just our family. Dad wouldn’t have had it any other way – he loved his family being all together. Throughout the day family and friends called and texted us, prayed for us and supported us. And so did those amazing hospice nurses – literal angels on this earth. We were so glad to be surrounded and uplifted in a time where for much of the rest of the world, it felt like the life was closing in and shutting down. A year ago today, we didn’t know what we didn’t know: That the world was going to feel like it stopped in time. Back then, we didn’t know what was to unfold globally or what 2021 would unfold like so in that moment, we just continued to do the only thing we could do:
Love, care, cry, pray, repeat.
I’d love to tell you a little of how Dad’s earthly story ended miraculously. On this day, a year ago, at 9:30 p.m., our Dad Rico breathed his last breath on earth while simultaneously taking his first gasp in glory. Dad was risen to new life in eternity with our Lord Jesus, and as he was, we felt the ache of great loss because we knew the gift of great love.
Our hearts so wanted to see Dad completely healed and, our hearts also knew at the time that it would not be done according to what we wanted. But I’m so thankful God had a better plan because God‘s plan included him being surrounded by all of his loved ones. God‘s plan included that Dad would be loved into eternity although this world didn’t welcome him the way it should have or could have when he was born. My sister wanted us to be sure that we loved dad out the way that only a family could, and I love her for that. God‘s plan included Dad’s healing. God‘s plan included Dad’s hope realized. God‘s plan included his restoration and salvation sealed. God‘s plan included dancing in the streets. God‘s plan included being surrounded by his family on earth while being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses in heaven. God‘s plan included not shutting the world down quite yet, allowing us to just have time with family. God‘s plan included allowing us to be together as a family to say, “See you later”, to our Dad and over this past year, we can remember and we see God‘s faithfulness and mercy; how He’s given us the strength in what felt like a season of one blow after another, in what felt like one separation after another, in what felt like one loss after another, in what felt like one ache after another.
God has been so so good. So that’s what I sang to God that day in the final moment of my Dad’s life: “You’re a Good Good Father.” Because that’s the truth – God is a good good Father.
Friends, I don’t know what your March 13th, 2020 looked like. I know what mine looked like: My 2020 looked a lot like love and loss, hope and joy, chaos and peace. For many of us it felt that way. Through it all, I know God was standing with us. Maybe your 2020 looked a lot like mine with deaths or different losses, from all areas of our world whether it was in our schools, in our jobs, in our homes, in our ministries, in our churches, in our communities – we all felt loss. Maybe it was very personal. Maybe it was a family member who passed away – maybe it was due to this destructive Covid, or maybe it was due to something else; something harder, something more difficult, something you never could’ve imagined or something so sudden, or even something so drawn out like dementia.
I don’t know what your March 13th, 2020 looked like – the day before the world kind of stopped for a while. What I do know is that you are not alone, and even now, we are not alone today. We (you and me friend), right now, we are surrounded even if we are socially or physically distanced. We are surrounded by people who want to support us. We’re surrounded by friends who would love to help out. We’re surrounded by people in our lives who have been longing to hug us and hold us, longing to uplift us. And though we are slowly emerging out of this crazy season of being cooped up, locked in, and shut down, we have people waiting for us to let them into our messy and broken pieces, and in return, we get to step in and do the same by uplifting them, upholding them, strengthening them, and supporting them too. We also have a great cloud of witnesses who is looking for us to allow God to do what He wants to do in this time even when we don’t understand, even when we can’t comprehend. God himself is waiting for us to say, “I trust You”.
God is waiting for us to say we will live with hope while we trust. He’s waiting for us to say we will work while it is day, we will love while there is still breath in our lungs, and we will care while we can.
Friend, will you join me in that challenge today?
I know it’s the beginning of this season of where we’re revisiting a lot of these memories from last year. There’s gonna be a lot of those moments over the next several months. Will you help me and join me as we choose to say God, ” I trust You Lord. I’m amazed by You. I want to carry on through Your strength”? Today, I’m reminded of this scripture:
“See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.” 1 John 3:1 CSB
Friends, you and I are God’s children and He does love us. Even when we look back at losses and remember tough memories. He wants us to remember we are His children so others can live in that same realization too. I’m reminded of some lyrics from the song, “Fear Not My Child” by Carman: “I know how to care for what belongs to Me.”
God does know how to care for us in every single season under the sun and every moment throughout all eternity.
I invite you to join me in singing to an audience of one today. Use your own words dear friend, because we all experienced this past year from different perspectives. Even so, let’s pray and ask God to help us see His faithful love all over the story of our lives as we reflect together.
Let’s Pray: Lord I’m amazed by You. The pandemic doesn’t stop You and the powers of hell cannot prevail against You or the plans You have for Your children. I’m grateful today God that the grave couldn’t hold you any longer and that you’re not finished – You’re not done- even when the coroner says life is done. You’re not done when breath stops coming out of our lungs – that’s the exact moment when you begin new life again. Help us God to see that important message today – That You are not finished with the story of our lives here. Help us to see that our March 13th, 2020 doesn’t have to define the rest of our lives. Today on March 13, 2021, we are choosing to start the day looking for Your love written on the pages of our lives through this past year. Today, help us to carry on doing all that we can do while we can do it: loving, caring, laughing, crying, living, writing, speaking, doing, releasing, embracing, and repeating. Loving Lord of Life, we surrender and ask You to do what only You can do in this moment. Thank you for caring for us and for loving us through every circumstance and season of life and death and life renewed. Amen.
Today, much like I started last year on this very day, I’m going to do what I can: Wake up to write, to love, to care, to hope, to let go, and to honor my Dad, all while worshipping Our Father God. Today as I’m jogging my memory thinking about Dad, I’m choosing to think about how he loved his kids – all of them. I’ll remember how he loved his grandkids and great -grandkids – all of them. Even the ones he never got to see and even the future ones he didn’t get to know. As I reflect, I’ll recall God’s powerful love over us – love from the Father’s heart. Love that doesn’t quit, love that doesn’t stop. Love that will never fail.
Friends, thank you for sticking with me through this very long post. And if you find yourself aching today or even rejoicing, and you don’t know what else to do or what else’s to pray, just worship. Even if you have to just mouth the words until sound comes out- just worship. With cracking voice and through tear-stained eyes, just worship the Lord. I’ll be doing the same.
Let’s remember that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Not even death. And more than ever before, I am convinced of it.
peace – liz:)
Go The Extra Mile: Check out this amazing song from Church of the City! It is a constant reminder that God is our hope and He keeps hope ALIVE! Listen to it, put it on repeat, and sing it out today!