Thursday, May 7, 2015

Daddy's Hands

“What do I do, what do I do?!” Dad rushed in helplessly
“Wash your hands, quick!” Mom gasped.
“Cross your legs!”
“Hurry! The baby’s coming!”

Dad came running into the room with his hands still sopping wet just in time to catch me as I made my entrance into the world. It was in Daddy’s hands that I took my first breath. That was the first moment of twenty-six years spent with the most incredible dad I could have ever imagined or hoped for, and a lifetime of beautiful memories. Although I will make a feeble attempt, words are simply inadequate to express what my dad truly meant to me.

I have never met someone with hands as strong as my dad’s. They were not strong without reason, as he was also the hardest-working man I have ever met. He never sat around with nothing to do, but always had a never-ending list of jobs to accomplish. He expected his children to do their share of the work around the house as well. If our pets hadn’t eaten breakfast, neither could we. “If you don’t work, you don’t eat”, he would always tell us. We learned at a very young age how to clean the bathroom, pull weeds, pick rocks, fertilize blueberries, dig postholes, and the list could go on and on. He would be out there with us, teaching us and helping us. If we forgot to put our tools away or close the gates where the horses might get out, he would get us up when he got home, no matter what time of night it was, to finish the job. It was by the guidance of my dad’s hands that I truly learned work ethic and responsibility.

Dad was not all about work, although sometimes I felt like he was. He also taught me to play and have fun. Sometimes we would go snow skiing for family vacation. In the summer we would get the canoes down to the reservoir and go to the nearby islands for the afternoon, during which time he taught me how to steer. He taught me how to saddle and ride a horse, how to build a fire on our camping trips, how to identify the trees on our hikes, and how to live each day to the fullest. It was by the example of how my dad used his hands that I was taught to love and appreciate genuine, edifying fun. 

Even though I was his fifth and last child, Dad still had enough love for me. He expressed his love in so many ways, even though it was not always perceived as love at that time. He was ready to discipline when necessary, ready to give a hug when needed, and he always had a listening ear and a word of wisdom. There were times when personalities would clash or feelings would be hurt, but he was always ready to say “I’m sorry” and make things right. Dad’s hand, whether in discipline or affection, taught me the value of true love.

Dad was the most self-sacrificing, unselfish person I have ever met. He went far beyond what was required of him. He was always ready to buy food for the homeless man on the street, give a job to a friend in need, or help a student through school. Dad’s hand of generosity taught me the truth of the words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.

Dad wasn’t one of the most theological people with all the right answers, but somehow I have never known anyone to be a more faithful missionary than he was. Dad gave literature to everyone he met, regardless of the situation. Mission stories always thrilled him to the core and we got to go on our first mission trip as a family when I was nine. No matter what, we always had family worship every morning and evening, besides which he would daily ask if we had spent quiet time with our best friend, Jesus. There are innumerable people who share about God, yet not many who truly know Him for themselves and live what they preach. My dad made mistakes and was definitely not perfect, but he was what I consider to have been a true missionary. Because of what he did with his hands and not only his mouth, he instilled in me the same longing to be a missionary.

I was privileged to be one of those caring for my dad during his last couple months of life. Although it was two of the most difficult months of my life, I would not trade them for anything. Sometimes he would be in tears due to the pain of the cancer in his bones, but when asked how he was doing, his response was always, “praising the Lord.” When all that was left of him was bones with skin stretched over them and he was racked with pain, his primary concern was still for those around him. He hated for us to have to care for him when he was so used to being the one helping everyone else, yet he never failed to express his appreciation.

Eventually he got to the point where he could barely respond to us verbally; his breathing got faster and heavier. Then the hospice nurse told us it wouldn’t be long. Dad had been such an integral part of my life. How could I let him go? The night before he died, we all gathered around his bed and sang song after song. After one of his favorites I asked, “Dad, wasn’t that beautiful?” and I noted a slight nod of his head.

In the wee hours of the morning on October 22, 2014, we again gathered around Dad’s bed. He was gasping for each breath; it seemed like an eternity between each one. Intense pain flooded my heart. Yet at the same time, I had peace. I knew Dad was right with God. I knew the promises in the Bible—that my dad would sleep and that he wouldn’t know anything until the second coming of Jesus, when all of the dead in Christ will be raised from the dead and will meet in the air those who are living righteously. I took Dad’s hand. I resolved in my heart that day by day, with God’s help, I would live up to all Dad taught me, all that he dreamed for me. I would be among those who would meet him in the clouds at Christ’s soon coming… Dad took another small breath. It was followed by silence. His heart was no longer beating. What a privilege that Daddy was holding me in his hands when I took my first breathe, and mine were among those holding him when he took his last. 


Some things never change!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Daddy

There are many emotions in my heart. Words do not flow, although many tears do. My Daddy was laid to rest on October 22, 2014. I had the privilege of being one of those holding him when he took his last breath, and I had the privilege of him holding me when I took my first breath (since the midwives didn't get there in time). Thank you to each of those who loved Dad so much, as well as those who have been so supportive of us as we mourn our loss. Enjoy Daddy's Slideshow, created by Phoebe.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New

There have been many new things that have happened in my life since I last blogged, and I have wanted to write lengthy, detailed blogs for so many of them, but I will just give a brief synopsis of a few of them instead.

I led canvassing for my first time in Central California this summer and was immensely blessed. We had an incredible team and many powerful experiences.



We had a family reunion this summer--something that had not happened for 8 years. Our family has grown since the last time we were all together!



I completed my very first quilt! A rag quilt. Much thanks to my dear sister-in-law, Becca, who gave me much assistance, as well as my mom. 


I visited Guam for 3 weeks. It's a beautiful island! I got my Open Water Scuba Diving certification. And I started dating Matthew Marsh. I'm excited about that. :D



Now the journeys of my life are taking me to California to work for the Central California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. I will be recruiting for the summer canvassing programs, working with GLOW, and learning to give Bible studies on the side. 

I don't know yet what other new things I will encounter in the coming months and years, but whatever ups and downs come, I'm eager to face them with Jesus by my side. 



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Planting Trees

My dad owned a tree planting business for many, many years. Eller & Sons Trees, Inc. They planted for paper companies all over the states. He started long before I was born and didn't stop until just a few years ago. The one thing that he spends and always has spent the greatest portion of his income on was helping others. Literature for strangers. Motels for the homeless. Food for the hungry. Support for missionaries. And my mom supports and encourages him in it. Their hearts are the most generous I know. This song, Planting Trees, makes me think of my parents. How thankful I am for them. I hope to plant many trees, too.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Only Jesus Can Satisfy

Here you can listen to one of my new favorite songs.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Caitlin

The first time I saw her she was playing the piano at a meeting in the spring of 2007. After the meeting, I found out that Caitlin was a nursing student at Southern and played violin in the orchestra, both of which I planned to do the following school year. Something about Caitlin drew me to her, probably the same thing that drew so many others to her. Was it her smile? Maybe it was her genuine kindness, or the love that seemed to flow out of her every move. Later that spring, we went to hear Southern's orchestra perform, and there she was again--principal chair of the second violins. She played with such enthusiasm, as if she would not rather be anywhere else in the world.

When I began attending Southern in the fall, I soon found myself enjoying the blessings of Caitlin's friendship. I started going to the flagpole early every morning for prayer with the group she helped start. I got to play in the orchestra with her, go on weekend trips, travel throughout Europe, sing, pray, exercise, talk, and the list could go on. She always showed the deepest, and at times, most undeserving love.

We worked together at Camp Cherokee with the horses, life guarding, and one summer were even co-counselors. She had such a beautiful way with the campers, always exhibiting gentleness and love. One of the highlights of sharing a cabin with her was singing together to the campers while they fell asleep at night. I wish I could remember all the lullabies she knew.



Caitlin went as a student missionary to Brazil, and when I decided to spend a year in the mountains of the Philippines, she was one of my biggest fans. Caitlin and Jen would sit down with me and help me make lists of things I would need and ways to prepare. Caitlin then decided to make me a couple skirts for my work in the mountains (pictured below). Without the use of patterns, she effortlessly made me two skirts and mailed them to my parents' home the day before I flew out. The next morning when I was in the airport on my way overseas, I got a call from Jen saying that Caitlin was in the hospital. They took her in after she started vomiting blood, and diagnosed her with a very aggresive esophageal cancer. They weren't even sure if she would make it through the night. We praised God that she did.



It was a difficult year for Caitlin as she went through cancer treatments, and difficult for me being so far away. We were so thankful for the period of time afterwards when she was cancer free. Unfortunately, in the fall of 2012 the cancer was discovered to have returned with a vengeance. She decided not to do chemotherapy again, but instead to do a naturopathic route. On March 21, 2013, God allowed Caitlin to rest in peace. Never did she complain, never did she ask God, "Why me?"

So young, so talented, so dedicated. "Why her?", so many of us ask. While on this earth, we may never really understand why, but we can praise God that He is the ultimate conqueror. We will meet Caitlin again, she will play her violin again, run through the woods picking wild flowers, wrap us in her arms of love, open a listening ear, flash her contagious smile. She is sleeping peacefully in Jesus right now, and the next thing we know, we will meet her in the clouds of heaven. But until then, she is deeply missed. Oh Jesus, come quickly!


"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18









Thursday, February 28, 2013

Belize

It was more than awesome to visit Belize for a couple weeks and spend time with family and friends. The pictures give a small glimpse of all there was to do. 


The girls' house to be finished


Lots and lots of onions to be weeded


Flowers to smell

Birds to see



Kids to play with


Markets to visit


Coconuts to shred









  
Friends to spend time with



Rivers to swim in




Stingrays to swim with


"...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, 
and bring glad tidings of good things." Romans 10:15

It was very difficult to leave Belize. Besides the fact that my two sisters, brother-in-law, nieces, nephew, and many friends are there, there is something about third-world countries that have my heart entwined in them. But the most important thing is being in the center of God's will.