Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Papa's Heart

My dad's faith is amazing. He is solid, he is steady, he is certain. 

He has praised God through his own physical challenges and various life stresses.

He has always been a believer in Christ, and has been a strong example his whole life. For about the past decade, God has been changing my dad, softening his heart to people and showing him how to minister in ways he never imagined. His faith hasn't wavered. It's only grown. But this... Anna Joy's journey... this has taken his faith to a whole new level. Maybe not even a "level", but more like a depth. 

I wouldn't necessarily say it's shaken his faith, but a few months ago he told me that he had some challenging conversations with God where he asked questions and poured his heart out. He said he didn't need to stay there long, but it was so good for me to hear that he had to work through stuff, too. He also told me how a couple friends told him they were praying for healing for his heart. 

His response was something like:
I don't want to be healed, not in the sense of getting over it or moving on. Meaning, I don't want to forget how God changed me through this. I want Anna to always remind me to pray fervently and love deeply, but most of all to depend on Him so desperately.

The following photo was taken a short time before Anna Joy went to heaven on December 19, 2011. Early that morning, Papa went to see her and they shared some one-on-one time. He was wearing an orange cap, and she would follow it with her eyes as he moved from one side of her bed to the other. She was obviously struggling more that day. My dad knew it. And as he talked to her and sang to her and prayed for her... through the desperation in her eyes, he sensed she was asking him if she could go. 

And he told her, Yes, it's OK sweet girl. Go to Jesus now...

I can't look at this photo without tearing up or my stomach twisting. I know that look on my dad's face. It's not just an expression, it's many feelings. I wonder what he was whispering to her at that moment. Probably another blessing of faith, a reminder of hope, or pledge of love.

How many of us can say, "I don't want to be healed" if it means carrying a healthy reminder of all the good God has done through unfathomable pain?

(I hope you get what I'm trying to say. Of course we should desire healing from wounds we experience in this life. The point is not forgetting. Scars remind us of something that was painful at one time, but has healed. The lesson is to welcome the reminders, even if they hurt. Because in Anna's story, the reminders eventually point us to positive things. The memories often start as pain, but can turn us to proper perspective of the eternal hope we have in Christ. And that should make a difference in this struggle. It doesn't remove the gut-wrenching pain of loss. It gives purpose in the blur, and draws us closer to a loving God who hates death more than we do.)

Dad, I'm privileged to call you mine, and to be walking this road with you. Thank you for opening your heart to God's sovereignty, to loving Anna Joy with everything in you, and to being healed in an unexpected way... even if that means coming to a place of acceptance of the very thing that caused the most pain. The most pain, but the most growth. 


  1. Absolutely beautiful Alissa! Your post about your dad brought me to tears. I agree that your dad is great and supportive and an amazing example of God. We all have some sort of scar(s) and God can heal them all! You have a lot of your dad in you. God bless and a big hug to you!

  2. Oh yes! Amen! What a wondrous God we serve who takes even our deepest heartbreak and uses it for His purposes. I continue to be amazed by what He has done through Anna Joy, and reading this post just brings me to my knees again in both sorrow and thankfulness. His ways are not our ways, and yet He is good, sweet Alissa. Thank you for sharing your journey with us yet again. ♥Kathy K

  3. Wisdom....much wisdom in your thoughts.

  4. Alissa,

    I do not know your family. But I want you all to know that Anna's story is what brought me back to the Lord. Going strong for a year now! Your honesty inspires me and your updates like these are such good reminders. God bless you and your family!

  5. Thank you for sharing this about your Dad. What a beautiful posture he has taken in response to the journey with Anna, and he inspires me to stay humble before the Lord. I love it that he sensed Anna's yearning for heaven. Now excuse me while I go get a tissue :)

  6. Oh, this is beautiful. So very VERY beautiful. The power of these truthful words and the emotions we know glorify Him. No, we don't want healing if that means forgetting, for in remembering we do grow and we can rejoince that the pain ends, but He and His love are forever. The latest album from Tenth Ave. North is called, "The Struggle", and the lyrics of many of the songs speak to the struggle of being human, but in the light of His love and light. From one chorus: "We are free to struggle; we're not struggling to be free. Your blood bought and made us Your children, so children drop your chains and sing!"
    Yes, pain changes us, and scars can be so incredibly beautiful.
    Thank you - and thank you Anna! - for your stories and how they bless His heart and continue to touch our lives.

  7. Beautiful...I love you with all my heart...your Papa's heart is a blessing to many...

  8. Tears..You are all in my heart and prays always.

  9. I've followed your blog along the way....thought this might help your healing process. It's a book written by a dear friend who lost her baby to heart problems and is her journey through the grieving process. It comes out this weekend and I can guarantee it will be amazing! I hope you find it helpful :)


  10. Such a beautiful blog. Thank you for sharing the exquisite love of your family and your trials and blessings that you have experienced through the posts and heart-wrenching photos. May the Lord bless you and your family abundantly and fill each tear with the fragrance of His love.