This morning I woke up with our first snow fall. It was a small dusting but enough for all of us (Dad, Mom, and Kids) to jump up and down and really feel the season of Christmas approaching. December just isn’t December until there’s snow, am I right?
Not only did I wake to the excitement of snow, but I also awoke to a reminder of something, that only in recent years, I looked forward to – the memory of my Dad’s passing. On December 5, 1996, after undergoing open heart surgery and experiencing difficulty in his recovery state, my Dad went home to be with our Savior. I was 17 years old and a senior in high school at the time of his passing. Over the next months (and years) that followed, I felt my foundation had been shaken with no recovery. I never felt I would ever get over his death. Anyone who has lost someone this close understands the raw pain grieve can bring. At times, it feels like an undeserved prison sentence with no way out.
After a long journey of recovery (spiritually and emotionally) I began to see the beauty in the world around me. Life began to move again. Each December 5th that came around brought on a new layer of growth to how I viewed the world and empathized with it. I found my healing to be invigorating and wanted others to have that same hope. Then finally it happened. God would do something on December 5th to say to me, “Hey, I’m still here. And life is still beautiful, isn’t it?”
One year it was walking into a hospital. Initially, this could have brought on painful memories. Instead of expecting grief I had experienced years earlier, I found absolute joy. My husband’s best friend and wife gave birth to twin sons. They were so tiny. I got to hold them and thank God for the miracles He brought into this world. Instead of losing a life, we gained TWO. I will always remember that year.
Another year I got to watch our friends’ daughter while they went on a date night. Normally this doesn’t sound like a big deal but due to the circumstances that happened that year, it made perfect sense. Our friends had lost their toddler son to the flu. We were still shaken with grief. When we made arrangements for babysitting, I didn’t hesitate when Dec 5th was the only open day. My empathy for their loss only made sense on a day that meant so much to me. To this day I’ll always remember decorating Christmas sugar cookies with their daughter, Teagan, and snuggling on the couch with our cat.
Another moment happened while I was sitting in our Sunday School class at church. Our pastor was preaching from the Old Testament and God’s relationship with the Israelites. His Sovereignty was something that we can’t always explain but that He always has a perfect plan for us. As tears began to stream down my face (because I know this lesson too well) I looked at the time – it was 9:20am, the time of my Dad’s passing. I just smiled and looked upward. It was as if He was sitting right next to me holding my hand. I thanked Him again for the tremendous amount of blessings He’s brought into my life over the years since my Dad’s passing.
So what about today? You may be asking, “What was you and God’s secret this year?” This year’s December 5th blessing wasn’t as obvious as the previous years but it was still there. I got to share the blessing of fruit with close friends. You’re asking, “What? What does fruit have to do with your Dad?” Good question. For those who who never knew my Dad, fruit was a big deal to him. It was his livelihood. The means he provided for his wife and 6 children.
He worked in the grocery business. He was a blue collar worker and took great pride in his work. Specifically, in the Produce Department. At the time of his passing, he worked at Hy-Vee as the Produce Manager in our hometown, Cherokee. I have countless memories of my Dad in the produce department…the smell of bananas on his clothes, his chap, cracked fingers from chilling lettuce in the back room sink full of icy water, berry stains on his white shirt and tie…not to mention the practical jokes he’d play on us if we’d come visit him. My favorite was when he’d hide behind a display of apples and roll them at our feet as we approached. We had no idea why the apples kept coming directly at us…
My Dad would also bring home old produce that was going to be thrown out. Spoiled peaches, bruised apples, moldy strawberries were always welcomed as long as the bad parts could be cut out. For a family of 6 kids, this was a huge blessing. He would also share this with the people he knew were in need. To this day, my Dad’s generous heart and love to other people were the best example any daughter could ever have.
Today I came across several flats of strawberries from a close friend. My freezer is stocked full so I knew I needed to pass it on to friends. I made two stops of strawberry drop offs to close friends. It blessed their day. The last drop off was with a friend I got to share with how God has been growing me these last few years. What a day to be able to share fruit both physically and spiritually.
So you see, God and I have a secret. And now I’m sharing it with you. In dark moments when you feel like an invisible God isn’t there, He has a way of making Himself known. Just look for Him.