be joyful always...


1 Thes 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.



In the spring of 1955, Daddy was taking my oldest sister to work when he complained about not feeling well. He woke Mom; she wanted to call the doctor, but he wouldn't let her. The call was made, despite his complaints. Hospitalized for tests exploratory surgery followed. The more accurate diagnosed of cancer of the blood and bones initiated the radiation treatments. He was in and out of the hospital several times the next few years.


March 3, 1959, Daddy made one last trip to the hospital. This time he would not come home. Mom took up her vigil at his bedside. Visiting hours ended and she was sent home. About 10:00, a call came from the hospital. He had taken a turn for the worse. I awoke and hearing voices, headed for the kitchen. My sister cradled me in her arms and told me that our father was gone. I don't remember the words Frieda used, but I do remember the love that was shared among us that night.


Daddy was laid to rest on my sister Joan's birthday. Winter was supposed to be about over, but it didn't seem like it that day. As family and friends gathered at the cemetery, I was pulled under her wing and under her coat to keep me from shivering in the cold and blizzard-like snow.


A few days later, playing on the floor, I began to cry. I began to understand the intense sadness that everyone was feeling. My sister, Frieda sat beside me and asked what was wrong. I couldn't put my feelings into words. I still remember feeling overwhelmingly sad and alone as we sat there and cried together.


I suppose it was years later when the impact of my father's passing really hit me. It was at a time when I felt like nothing in my life was going right. I drove to Pekin for the Marigold Festival. I didn't stay at the park very long. As I started to drive home, I felt an uncontrollable urge to stop at my father's gravesite. I felt strangely drawn to the cemetery, something I had never in my life felt before. Usually going there is hard for me.


I parked the car and walked up to the headstone. I bent down to rearrange the floral arrangements that remained from summer. Quickly I found myself sitting on the ground, tears streaming from my face. I longed for my father's presence like never before. Why did he have to die when I was so young and leave me? Where was he now when I needed him most? Why couldn't I have my father's arms around me to reassure me that everything would be all right no matter what the future held?


Time past and I finally arose, but the uncontrollable feelings of abandonment still clung to me weighing heavily on my heart. Working through the depression was not easy. I had to be determined not to let the problems overtake me. It is a slow process and at times I still search for that safe place, but I am determined not to allow Satan to win the victory.


Now I look back to the day I sat at my father's grave . . . I allowed the problems in my life to cause remarkable depression. I realize that in those days, my focus was on me. I think about sitting at my father's headstone wishing I could feel his arms around me and I realize that actually my heavenly Father's arms were around me each and every day. He never left my side.


God has helped me through all the trials in my life. Years ago, in a revival, Sonny Holland asked how a Christian could have a testimony if never tested. I know that God tenderly watches over me and cares for me. He loves me enough to sacrifice His Son for my sins. For many Christians when God does not rush in and rescue them from their circumstances, they become angry and disillusioned and their spirit fades. Depression over a situation can become so severe that we allow it to separate us from God. When you cut a vine from its root, it slowly withers. Like the vine, we become deprived of the nurturing and strength that He has for us and we wither.


The car wreck that paralyzed me came less than a year later. It would have been so easy to become despondent and discouraged. I had been there - done that. I was not going to do it again in this situation. Yes, I have those moments and even a bad day now and again. I work hard to minimize and limit any feelings of depression and God has given me the courage to accept His will for my life. And my family, well, they still tuck me under their wing and take special care of me. When I was in the hospital, they brought food to my family, built my ramp and cleaned my house. Their love and acts of kindness continue and I am grateful. Tragedy will always do one of two things. It will bring you closer to God and family or it will drive you apart, but the choice is yours.