“There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” – Deuteronomy 1:31
August 1st, 2017 – 9:30am
I was driving a golf cart around Fort Caswell early that morning to get things ready for a fun filled day with our Seabreeze Day Camp. I then got a phone call that changed my life forever. On the other end of the phone I could hear my half brother, Brandon, on the phone first telling me to relax and not get upset. “Dad has been in an accident and has had a stroke.” I am not really sure of the conversation that came after as my entire body went numb to the words that were coming through the phone. I remember going back to the pool because I still had over 100 kids that I needed to tend to and all I could do was cry, no words would come out when I spoke, just tears.
If you know me, you know that growing up I was the biggest Daddy’s Girl around and my dad was my hero and I was his biggest fan, I always wanted to do what he was doing and be right by him. One of my greatest memories of my dad growing up was if there was ever a thunderstorm, a power outage, or just something scary to me, I would act anxious or scared and my dad would always turn to me and say, “Repeat after me, ‘Have no fear, my daddy is here.’” He would then proceed to wrap me in a big hug and squeeze me tightly to know I was safe. I remember hearing all the things that were wrong or that the stroke took from him as doctors came in and out of his room. ‘He has memory loss, short and long.’ ‘His eyesight is basically tunnel vision, he will never drive again.’ ‘He is going to have to learn how to do a lot of things over again.’ These statements played over and over in my head and I began to feel the defeat creep in. But, I was soon reminded of that one statement that my dad used to tell me growing up. Sitting in the room alone, just me and my dad I could feel the Lord place on my heart those exact words as I looked at my dad. ‘Ashley, have no fear, do you not know who your Father is?’ A loaded statement that quickly reminded me, I have another Father that goes before me, fights for me, loves me, and protects me. He is working all things out for my good.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.” – Isaiah 41:10 -12
The next 2 years were a long road of different rehab facilities, lots of therapy, and a whole bunch of learning of different things, things that I never knew I would need to learn.
July 11th, 2019
Cleaning my room one evening I got a phone call that my uncle was taking my dad to the hospital because of thoughts a small stroke may have happened to my dad. We soon got to the hospital and I can see my dad, once again laying in a hospital bed. But this time was different, felt different too. For the first time in my life, my dad could not say my name, and for a slight moment did not know exactly who I was. What a feeling, this time those same words did not come to mind, but instead a song. ‘Do it again’ by Elevation Worship, the lyrics I kept repeating:
‘Waiting for change to come Knowing the battle’s won For You have never failed me yet Your promise still stands Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness I’m still in Your hands This is my confidence You’ve never failed me yet’
This time things were a little more difficult to face as far as the outcomes. Apart from the things that happened from the first stroke, my dad has very limited walking ability without a cane, and now predominantly just gibbers when speaking, as if talking to a young child. But still, God continues to show His grace through it all and to me.
Through this experience I have learned just how precious my custom anklets is which I got a year before as a gift and also realized that personalized gifts of dad is through the Father. God has shown me just as my dad tried to protect me from the scary things growing up, God, too continues to protect me from things that scare me and comforts me through His word and worship. Some days are tough, but I see God’s grace and mercy through my dad as we work through this obstacle, such goodness that is so undeserved, kind of like that ice cream cone or special treat dad would give me (without mom knowing, of course). But mostly, God’s love, a love that is not earned or waged on anything, just simply given to me because I am a child of God. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8. I know this is true of my dad as well, as he grins from ear to ear everytime I see him.
So on this day and every day we celebrate the gift of dad through the Father, the example of protection, grace and mercy, and never ending love. Thank you God for dads.
Happy Father’s Day!