Dad, We Will Not Forget

My hand turned the door knob. My feet stepped across the threshold. My arm pushed the door shut behind me. My head swiveled to face the living room. My legs propelled me forward into the room. “Hey, Girl!” That’s what he would say. From his reclining chair or his desk chair or standing superman pose in the middle of the room. Every trip I took, every outing I went to, every shift I worked, I would come home and there he usually was.

“Hey, Girl! How was it?”

Sunday, May 28, 2017 will go down in my books as a day to remember. I was in Michigan for Memorial Day weekend with Clay Baker and his family. That day, we were at a birthday party for a cousin, Natalie, who was turning 60. She was delightful and so was the property she had with her husband. There was a baby grand in the front room and a creek out back. Clay and I spent some time down there talking about life and perspectives. When she came up, she took a photo of us and told us about all the wildlife they have up there. Sure enough, a momma duck (Emma) lead her eleven ducklings right past us. Emma clearly knew Natalie and was okay with her. Natalie talked to her the whole time and they accepted Clay and I as friends – or at least not enemies.

“Hey, Girl! I’m going up to work at the cabin, want to come with?”

When we got home after the party, Clay and I were going to watch a movie. 27 Dresses. As the movie was put in, I turned to Clay and talked to him about my future father daughter dance at my wedding. I questioned what song we’d play, if we would sway or do a more elaborate dance. Two minutes after I brought that up, my phone started vibrating. Isaac was calling. It was 10:24pm EST.
“Hey, Isaac – what’s up?”
“You’re in Michigan, right?” I could hear Elliot in the background.
“Yeah. Are you guys okay?!”
“Um. Yeah … WE’RE okay …. Are you sitting down?”
“Yeah …”
“Okay. Good. Dad went up to the Gitter’s today.”
“Is HE okay?!?!”
“Um. No. Not really. He had a heart attack. He’s dead.”
“What?!”
The rest of our conversation is fuzzy to me. I know I must have been on speaker phone, because Elliot shared more details. I heard Mom end a phone call, say a few words to me, and dial someone else.

“Hey, Girl! How was your trip?”

Clay checked on me after I hung up. I choked on my words when I told him that my dad was dead. He clutched me tight and started to rock me, choking up himself. He called for his parents. It was 10:29pm. They brought Forrest into the room with them. “Can you stand?” I nodded weakly, but by the time I got turned around and kneeling, Lori was falling to her knees to hug and cry with me. The rest joined us and we prayed and cried together. They stayed by my side taking turns who hugged me or handed me tissues. Aaron, Lori, and Clay called friends and brethren – whomever I wanted notified. I just sat and cried. I remembered all the good times.

“Hey, Girl! Whatcha doin’?”

Thursday, Dad counseled me on my trip to Michigan. “It’s a holiday weekend, so you need to be careful. There will be a lot of people on the road, so be smart and safe. Don’t drive between 10pm and 3am – at all. It’s not safe. There’s going to be a lot of drinking going on this weekend. Be careful. I love you, Girl.”
“I love you too, Dad.”

“Hey, Girl! How was work?”

Earlier that day, I was playing cards with Mom. Dad’s voice carried from the other room, “I HATE computers!” Mom shook her head, I giggled, and walked over to Dad. “What’s up, Dad?” He was trying to update something on his boat, but there was difficulty getting the update onto the SD card and the video wasn’t making sense. I helped him do what the video said, but it didn’t work. He came back into the house frustrated. After calling the company, he was told that he had to watch a different video because he has an Apple computer, not Windows. I helped him again and he was able to update it.
Mom marveled at my ability to be so patient. Dad did too a little.
“I still HATE computers!”

“Hey, Girl! How was your drive?”

Clay and Aaron drove me home Monday, May 29, 2017. My birthday. I cried a lot. Dad’s voice replayed over and over in my head. I knew I wouldn’t come in the door and hear his loving voice. My sister called from Alaska and asked what was going on. She had a message on Facebook from a friend. “Sorry to hear about your dad. He was a great guy.” and a text from Mom, “CALL ME ASAP.” She knew something was wrong and took it in stride. After hanging up with me, she went on a hike. I cried some more. She’ll be home Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

“Happy Birthday, Girl!”

Dad and I had a lot in common. We were the huggers of the family. He smiled about as much as I. He laughed heartily.
Dad lived in “Donny World”. It’s a carefree place that doesn’t touch reality.
Dad was loved by all who knew him. He had a sense of humor that few could rival. He was a good storyteller.
Dad loved deeply. His family meant the world to him. He always wanted us around.

“Hey, Girl! Glad you’re home safe. I’m going to bed.” 

My family is choosing to be “Donnie happy”. He always wanted to die in the woods and he did. He retired from 32 years in law enforcement: Marine turned Appleton Police Department Police Officer. He has been living life the way he wanted to. He often went fishing and hunting. There’s nothing in that to be sad about. Evidence suggests he didn’t suffer when he passed.
There are many blessings in all of this for the timing of everything. Blessed be the name of the LORD!

“Love you, Girl!”

My love for Dad will exist forever. I will cling to memories and cherish all the advice he’s ever given me. In God’s Kingdom, I hope I once again get to see his bright smile and be in his warm embrace.

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Our Enemy Prowls

This past week has been a rollercoaster for me. Our enemy prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. I’m afraid I have felt the pressure. The spring holy day season is nearly upon us. We have only a month before Passover. The enemy always seems to step things up a notch before holy day seasons. So let me confide in you, my friends.

Struggles: I am not strong enough to give you details, but I will tell you that I have a new struggle that I’ve never had to deal with before. (Please, try not to let your imaginations run away with you. It’s not good, but what sin is?) Typically, I struggle with only my mind. This time, it’s a habit that I keep walking into. Knowing all sin starts in the mind, I’m battling with my thoughts yet again. It has been a few weeks of war and battles. Some days I win, some days I lose. Then Yahweh provided me with a very useful tool – an audio book from the library. Joyce Meyer talks about how to handle temptation. A lot of what I’ve heard so far isn’t really revolutionary, but to hear them put in this way, at this time, is huge. She’s talking about how we need to recognize where we are tempted. She mentions that we are tempted with impatience, with overeating, with being lazy, with sexual desires, and the list continues. She proposes that we pray before temptation and also pray that God reveals to us where we are deceived. We typically know when we’re going to walk into a tempting situation. We’re going to a large dinner and know we will be tempted to overeat, for example. One other thing that she talks about is the phrase “entering into temptation”. We are to pray that we enter not into temptation, not that we will never be tempted. Am I the only one who finds this revelation mind-blowing? Looking at it in this way seems to imply that unless we act on those temptations, we haven’t entered temptation. Whoa.

Work: I have been feeling lost. My jobs are incredible. I adore and treasure them. The truth is, there’s no real room for growth there. Plus, what about Jehovah wanting me in Michigan? Has that time past? I don’t believe so. I want to be so much more involved with the church. Yet, I don’t see how that’s possible. Even if I make it back to Michigan, I’ll have to work more to make ends meet. I have the time while I’m here and not there. What is it God is accomplishing? I can’t tell. I’m utterly lost and confused. I only want to know His truth.

Exercise: I have been doing Insanity for almost a month. Three times before, I have tried to finish the program. Each time, I’ve gotten the flu about a month or a month and a week into it. I’m getting paranoid about where I’m at, but I’m rejoicing in the strength I feel flowing through my veins. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Relationship: Struggles put strain on any relationship. Unfortunately, mine is no different. I have been striving so hard for growth that I don’t seem to know how to encourage another person in it. This life is hard. These struggles are real.

How are all of you doing?

Relationship Thoughts

Relationship training starts before marriage. That starts now. I have been studying character, marriage, growth, etc. for a long time now. Still, I’m surrounded by books like Grit by Angela Duckworth, Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self To Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy, the Respect Dare by Nina Roesner, and the list goes on. I dream about being the best I can be. I dream about being the woman that God intends for me to be. I dream about making Him proud. I dream about hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” To me, that means learning to produce fruits of the holy spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Many of the books I read help give me daily practical advice on how to best pursue those things.

Why this brief ramble? I wrote about reading “Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage” by Mark Gungor. These are the thoughts that didn’t make it to my evaluation of the book. They weren’t really related, but I felt the need to share anyway.

Mind, Body, Soul

Ugh! I remembered belatedly. Sigh. I’ll get this one of these days.

My friends, I had a revelation. These last couple months seemed to be stretching my mind and mental capacity. I was learning a lot. I was reading and studying and looking into things. I wanted to grow in knowledge and wisdom. The next couple months I have challenged myself to finally complete Insanity. It’s an intense workout program that lasts about two months. I’ve made it half way several times. Each time I was interrupted by the flu. Here’s to the fourth try! On top of that, I have been welcomed in to the WHFA (Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association). They meet four times a week, but I’ll probably only make it two or three times weekly. Still, that’s a lot. Especially on top of doing Insanity. Did I fail to mention I also take time for yoga every night with my boyfriend? With all this on my mind, I came to a conclusion: mind, body, soul. Ergo, if the past several months I was working my mind, and in this period of time I will be working my body, that leaves my spirit. I’m trusting God has me firmly in His grasp and I refuse to worry. It does make me wonder though. Is a spiritual trial next?

Searching For A Mission

My heart has been crying out to God. Pining after a mission. Sure, I’ve been drawn to character development, helping people, encouraging them, writing, and planning. What does that mean though? As a mom, I can see all of that being exceptionally useful. As a single person or a pre-married person, what can I do? More than that, how could I make a living doing what I feel called to? Please, if you’re reading this and have a suggestion, tell me.

For now, I have been trying several things. I’m writing more. I would like to write children’s books. I’m trying new things. I want to get out of my comfort zone and continue learning. I’m applying for writing jobs online. So far, I’m unsuccessful. My writing isn’t up to par and I have no experience. I’m researching jobs in both my hometown and in Michigan. I want to know where YHWH intends for me to live.

May our Father reveal to me where He would have me be, what He would have me do, and with whom all this is to be.