Monday, October 5, 2015

2015: The Year of Prayer....I've missed a few weeks.

So, it's been awhile since I posted on this year long journey to document my life in prayer.  I just counted back and I guess this is Week 38.  It feels like an ocean of time has passed since the last time I thought to write.  I tried last week Tuesday and it didn't go very well.  I don't even really have the mental fortitude to journal.

The truth is, I hit a wall.  My Dad died.  Prayer was/is about the only thing I could/can really do "well," because the Lord is the most consistent voice in my head.  Every other input is all messed up.  My emotions are all over the place.  I'm either not hungry or starving.  My mind starts to spin on all sorts of weird ideas and there are some nights when sleep completely eludes me.

In short, things are off-kilter in my life.  I feel unbalanced and destabilized.  A good visual here is my's just a mess.

I can't tell you how grateful I am for the calls, comments, emails, texts, cards, hugs, meals and condolences we've received.  I'm not capable of taking it all in or talking to everyone, but I am so grateful...Please know that.  We have so much to do to help my Mom get organized and the details of death continue to roll along.

The reality is starting to set in.  Friday it hit me hard.  I took some notes in the middle of my anguish (in the middle of the night) and to look at them is painful.  I don't include them because they are too personal and intimate, and would be at the very least, awkward for you.  It is a painful place we are in.  Saturday hit still harder when, in starting to clean out Dad's office, I found a file with my initials on it.  There were a few letters in there, one from in the last five years that starts, "Dad, our pastor encouraged us to write a note to the people in your life that mean the most to you....."

That's as far as I got.

In the middle of this mess is a life still to be cared for.  Something is pushing me through.  It's being a a wife and a mom, even if the person in those roles is a little nutty in certain moments.  It's being a daughter and a sister.  It's being a prayer warrior and friend.  It is who I am to just keep going but I'm pretty dang tired of going. 

We are still being held, kept close to the side of our Shepherd-Father-Comforter.  He is ever-present.

My spirit/soul/mind and body have been craving The Word, so I went and bought myself a couple of Bibles last week (which is crazy because I already have a lot but I figure it's a good investment).  One of them is a One Year Bible and part of this morning's entry, Psalm 77, really encapsulates how I feel.  The Psalms, I believe, were inspired, written and included because the Lord wants us to know He created, understands and gets the range of human emotion.  Bonus for me, this was written by Asaph, my personal favorite Psalm writer (although David is pretty good too.)  I like Asaph because he usually echos my voice as a person and a writer.  Asaph writes what I think.

We have a long way to go but we have a God who specializes in being in it for the long-haul.  Thank you for your prayers, keep them coming.  My Mom, my brother, myself and our families need them now that the dust is settling and the real work of grieving begins.  Love you.  Hug, Friend.

 Psalm 77 - For Jeduthun. Of Asaph.
 I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted.  I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah.

You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak.  I thought about the former days , the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night.  My heart mused and my spirit inquired: "Will the Lord reject forever?  Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful?  Has he in anger withheld his compassion?" Selah.

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High."  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.  Your ways, O God, are hold.  What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.

The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.  The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth.  Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked.  Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Dad

This is a whiplash week.  That's the only way I can describe it.  Freedom came Tuesday.  Heartbreak (again) broke down the door on Wednesday morning.  My Dad, my wonderful father, got called home late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning.  We aren't sure exactly what the cause of death was, but we know one thing: The Lord made it so peaceful.  There was no fight, no tremor, no trauma.  It is literally like the Lord said, "David, it's time."

And he said, "Ok!"

That's the way it should be.  When the Lord calls, there should be no regrets about saying goodbye.  There should be no looking back like Lot's wife.  There should be no trying to hold up your finger to just take a second to tell the ones you love you will see them later.  We should live that way now and my Dad did that pretty well.

The living deal with the emptiness.  The living deal with being left behind and the gaping hole that is created by absence.  I'm not angry with God.  I know how He works and I know it was time for my Dad to go.  I DIDN'T WANT HIM TO, and I wouldn't have picked this kind of exit, or at this time, but my God knows better.  He could have taken him 15 years ago when he had an aneurysm but the Good Lord gave him more time to teach us how to live and be and have faith.  I just wish I could have said goodbye.  Or had the chance to love on him a little more.

Today, I wrote his obituary.  Something I never thought in my wildest I would ever do.  I guess that legitimizes my standing in the family as a writer.  I texted 2 friends after I wrote it that I felt like I was going to throw up.  I've gotten that feeling a few times in the last 54 hours.

Thank you to all who've called, texted, emailed, cooked and delivered food, asked after us and been with us in our as-yet-unprocessed-grief.

I've been here (sort-of) before, so I can ask for prayers.  Pray for our strength next Wednesday.  I pray for my Mom past the busyness of next Wednesday.  There is so much still to do, to handle, to process. It takes so long to move on.  We have to figure out a "new normal" again.  Yet, this time without the patriarch.  He was kind, generous, faithful and gracious.  He taught my brother and I to be that way too.  We are who we are because of who our Dad was.  And our children carry on that legacy, just as they will tell stories of him to their children.

We have 1,000 generations of blessing coming.

As I've said several times this week as his body has passed, Bye Dad.  I love you.  I will miss you terribly.  You were such a good Dad.  I'll see you soon.

(Here's the obituary I wrote which will be in the Chronicle and various church publications soon.) 
On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, David Warren Wakefield, treasured husband, father and grandfather, passed away peacefully in his sleep.  He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Carole, his son Craig, daughter and son-in-law Amy and David Vogel and his beloved 5 granddaughters: Madison, 16, Ryan, 12, Natalie, 11, Sophia, 9 and Ella Grace, 2.  

David was a man of great integrity, wisdom, generosity and humor.  He made an impact on all who met him, with his ideas, jokes and profound intelligence.  He graduated from Georgia Tech University in 1967.  He entered the Navy as a Lieutenant and served as a Naval Aviator from 1967-1971. 

He ran several successful companies; all in the Power Generation and Process Industry and his knowledge of this business cannot be duplicated.  His reputation for fair-mindedness and gracious conduct is felt by all who worked with and for him.  While business was his focus, family was his life.  He loved his wife, his children and was enormously proud of all of his granddaughters.  He saw the blessing and gift they were to his life and, just like with his children, he was a committed presence in their lives.

He was also a man of deep faith, especially in his time as a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist.  He always wore a gold Number One pin on his collar.  When he was asked about it, he simply said, “It reminds me to keep the Lord first.”  He taught so many the meaning of a well-lived life, how to have fun here and now and the importance of living in light of eternity.  He will be greatly missed and loving remembered.

A Memorial service is being held on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015 at 10 am at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (Building Fund in the memo, under “giving.”) or PKD Foundation,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Team Sophia: 5 Years Later (Almost)

It's been 59 months and 26 days since that Sunday in October 2010 when Sophia walked in the living room of our rent house, where I was working at my "desk," (which was a TV tray at the time).  She was looking down her nose at me which struck me as weird.  I asked her why she was looking at me that way.

"Because I see two of you."

Right then, a tornado siren went off in my heart.  I'd just taken her that morning to an urgent care clinic because of the swelling of her left eye.  They told me she had pink eye.  I knew that wasn't right as this was my 2nd child and we'd all had pink eye before at that point.  What she had did NOT look like pink eye to me.  That was the last time I didn't argue ask well-thought out questions of a doctor when I thought they were not 100% in their diagnosis.

I told Dave what she said.  Immediately, we packed up to go to the ER and called my parents to drop newly-minted 7 year old Natalie on the way.  It was about 5 pm on Sunday evening.  After that fateful moment, our lives were never the same.

5 1/2 hours later, as I laid there on the ER room gurney with Sophia asleep in my arms, I did what most parents would do in an ER.  I prayed.  In what I now know to be a moment of Holy Spirit inspired prayer, I told the Lord I would praise Him no matter.  And I distinctly remember saying out loud, I will praise You, Lord.  Even if this is cancer.

After I uttered those words, there was no audible voice from God, no angelic messenger; absolutely nothing dramatic or supernatural occurred.  Sophia didn't twitch and I didn't feel the Spirit rise up in me.  It was just.....peace.  Not completely silent (hospitals never are) but like someone had thrown a blanket over us.  It was warm and safe and quiet.  That was the moment, I think, when the Lord stretched out His wings over us (Psalm 91:1,4) and I believe we've never left His side.

This picture is from the morning she got her port-a-cath put in, less than 2 weeks later.  I love this picture because that was my baby....that's what she looked like at 4 years old before cancer and chemo.

She's not here to complain and tell me "STOP CRYING!"  Apparently I do that more than she likes.  I apologize, but say her mother gets emotional and when that happens, my eyes leak.  They are really leaking now as I sit here writing this post.  It's not out of pain or despair or woundedness.  The Lord healed me of all that 2 years ago.  It's when I think about what's happened to us in the last 5 years....all the people who prayed for us....all the people who made meals....sent cards...stood by us....commented on Facebook and even read the open-ended journal this blog became....that's really what makes me cry.  Thank you is not enough, but I'll say it anyway....THANK YOU.

Then, I think about all the people who never knew us in that season, including our current church family (some just finding out last week Sophia had cancer!)  They only know "us" now, not the "us" from then.  But we wouldn't be who we are now without Sophia's ordeal...really our family's ordeal.

We are at the finish line now.  The last scans of her protocol/treatment plan happened Friday afternoon and this picture was taken right after.  I love this picture because it is fully Sophia, proud to be 9 and happy to be finished.  Tomorrow morning, we meet with her oncologist for what will surely be the very last time.  She will transfer us to the long-term care clinic at Texas Children's and Dr. Jodi Muscal will "retire" as Sophia's doctor.

I don't think there is anything wrong with being emotional at the end of the journey.

And I am.  I am emotional because we are so blessed.  Not just because she is completely healthy with no side effects AT ALL.  I can't express my gratitude to God for making her total healing a reality.  It is too much for me to express all He has done for us, all He has given us, all He continues to do in our lives.  It is obscenely extravagant and we are not worthy of it.

Theologically speaking, I know we are worthy because of Christ but that doesn't keep me from being totally humbled by that reality.  I live in that victory every day.  I operate, pray and minister out of that confidence I posted about yesterday (read that here).  But as me speaking to you, it is too much goodness given to just 4 regular 5.  Yet HE STILL GAVE IT.

I don't know who that is for, who that know that if God will give us all this, He will most certainly give you the same portion, or more.  I know He will.  

We will continue to care and serve and pray and believe for those fighting cancer.  I still do comfort kits (read about those here).  We will again pray-walk the road between MD Anderson and Texas Children's on Saturday, February 13th, 2016 (MAKE PLANS NOW TO JOIN US!)  We will have t-shirts made this time because I have a feeling because we sowed the seed this year, there is a harvest of people coming to pray in the reality of those hospitals becoming places of healing, not treatment.  

The back of our Team Sophia shirts quoted Galatians 6:9-10: Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the right time, you will reap a harvest.  I can say it has been a harvest all along.  We say the same thing in the cancer world: N.E.G.U.  We will never, ever give up till a cure is found - whether that is Jesus' 2nd coming or a medical miracle.  Either way, we are here to fight the evil-sent disease of cancer and the suffering it causes, with supernatural and natural means.  Jesus teaches us how to do that and He also teaches us healing is possible.

Sophia, our whole family is a great example of what He can do, with only a willing heart.  

Just keep showing us the way, Lord.  Thank You for always doing so.  Send us the cure for cancer and comfort those afflicted, Gracious God.  Raise up Your people to help in every creative way You can think of, Holy Spirit.  Bring more of Your Kingdom to earth, in Jesus' Name.