I am so sorry its been so quiet here before this week, I find myself at a loss for words, and participating in a time of quiet reflection, pulling inward quite a bit. I suppose that is healthy and good, right? I just have some guilt for not coming to hang out with you as often. I have had all kinds of blogs floating around, just didn't write, schedule or upload them.
We have been here in Florida a month now, and its not as hard as it first was. The first day we pulled in, I laid in the back bedroom for a long time before I could even step into the front of the RV with all its big windows looking out. My heart was longing for him out there, waving excitedly from the front door as we pulled in, just like years past.
In fact, I pretty much cleaned the whole house, dripping tears everywhere I went, before I could step foot ouside. We had a little whoopsie that dropped me to my knees:
Check out my 4 month old laptop. During travel it slid back, still in the case, and nestled perfectly between the slide out and the wall. Needless to say, we were all a little out of sorts, and no one checked like we usually do, before sliding it out.
Tear tears tears. So many tears that day! I told satan to LEAVE US ALONE.....
I finally decided to step outside, I was ready.....
It felt like a ghost town.
All his little touches were gone. He was such a tidy person by nature and took pride his little second home. Looking around at the closed up tight apartment, the empty RV that wouldn't be driven on a fun summer trip this year.....
There were leaves everywhere, and we realized for the first time, how much work he did on "our spot" to get it ready for us with its little porch and clean raked yard.
So here we are, living on my daddy's beloved "farm" in central Florida, and missing him everyday. (this is dad and Drea's second home, when they came up from their big house down south by the beach, to work the family furniture store with my brother Chad)
At first being here was salt in the wound, but just a few days in, it became comforting somehow, to be surrounded by a place so "HIM". And you can tell he left thinking he would be traveling back up again....
Shoes by the back door. A tool out on the work bench. An RV waiting for the next trip.
When we sit by the fire in this peaceful spot, in the beautiful cool Florida nights, we know he is happy we came and enjoyed this special space....
We can do it for him. He loved it so much, just like last years time hop showed me.
So here we sit, missing him terribly, thankful for the promise of seeing him again one day...
I know life moves on, and we all will too, but for now, I am embracing every layer, every tearful, hard day and every happy, laughter filled day, with my whole being. Trusting my Abba Father to guide my path, and take my broken heart and make it new.
And maybe someday soon, I will stop glancing up in the window when I walk by, to see if he is inside with his feet up in the afternoon....
So I smile through my tears, because I know my daddy is so happy and healthy up there in Paradise with Jesus.....and he wouldn't come back even if he could.
Our human mind cannot grasp the glory he now lives in everyday.
I just wish he could be here again.....I'd sure have a lot to say.
We so enjoyed our time in Kansas over Christmas and through the first of the year. Our little apartment feels so safe and quiet, cozy and happy. The perfect place to mourn daddy before facing Florida again.....
This time without him.
Ugh. I can't even....
My heart just aches when I think about. I am taking this time to just be still, reflective and allow the Lord to bring healing.
As the kids and Dale started feeling ready to join in outings and family events again, sweet Dale whispered to me to just stay home, read a book, or take a soak in the tub and just BE STILL.
He knows what I need when I am hurting, and I love him for that.
I got the BEST stack of books read, while we were home! Guilty pleasure! :)
After living in an RV for 2 years with only a shower, the deep soaking tub we put in the apartment is SUCH a great! Even better, I tuck all my empty oil bottles into a cute jar of epsom salt and when I get a scoop, it makes the best smelling bath!
I may have even allowed myself an extra indulgence or 5.... ;) Have you ever put cocoa pebbles in your ice cream? MMmm Mmm amazing!
So is homemade cocoa with heavy whipping cream and high quality cocoa powder! Mmm
The Father knows my heart and He knows how much I have missed seeing snow, all cozied up in the house by the fire with a blanket and a good book. It hasn't snowed in our small Kansas town for several years now, and it DID, like THREE TIMES when we were there. Praise Jesus for my Winter Wonderland!
It was BITTER cold, like -20 with windchill some days, so we cuddled inside, stayed in our jammies, and played games and family wii. (kids Christmas gift for the apartment this year)
My photography friend texted and asked if she could get some shots of Destiny in the snow. She had been waiting 3 years for a nice snow to shoot in, and it finally came! We of course, said yes!
Here are the images. Heavinly Blessings Photography, by Heather Schlatter if you are in the area. I worked with Heather a ton before we moved, she does such a good job!
I just have to say, that I am so thankful that the Lord gave us the urgency to finish our apartment this summer, even when we didn't understand why we wanted to finish it so badly. After all, it had sat unfinished, and empty, except for our stored items, for 2 whole years! Just sitting there waiting for us to have the gumption and finances to finish it. Now it all makes sense.....
We needed a safe place to come home to, a place to host our Florida family that flew in for a Christmas funeral. A place to be still and heal. A place to call home in that community.
I am so in awe of my Heavenly Father, and how He cares for even the smallest (biggest) details of my life!
As we were in the apartment more, we realized quickly, that our living room needed some additional seating. Spots that were in front of the fireplace, not beside it, like the couch. Its tiny in there, and we had to be super careful not to overfill the space.
I found THE blue chairs to fit the bill....and a couch I wanted super bad, but alas, no room. And it'd be silly to have a backless couch to curl up on, we'd fall out! ;)
But that's another post for another day! :)
We made sure we saw all the family, as we prepared to leave again. Kids had friends over, made sushi with our new Sushi Bazooka and just had some fun before closing up shop to head out.
Mom came over one day and we went through a box of old photos.....memory lane!
We went up to Dale's moms restaurant a ton, she is so sweet to feed us lunch. Amazing amazing yummy lunch!!! :)
On our way home, we found my first car in a tiny used car lot downtown!!!! THE '88 Mustang I got from my daddy for Christmas when I was 13. Eeek! I wanted to buy it but its now super duper duper rough and would take like $10k to restore, so we walked away. Darn it!
Wouldn't that have been a cool first car for Destiny?
I got to enjoy a girls night with my BFF, before we loaded up the RV again.....I don't have any photos except the one I sent when she asked how casual I was going. Haha! We literally were talking a mile a minute and didn't take a single picture. OOPS!
We went to our favorite sushi place and had a long fun dinner and then, we saw the BEST movie! The Greatest Showman. Oh it was so good! We went to the new theater in town with cool reclining seats and ate popcorn and candy and all the bad things you shouldn't. ;)
As the days went on, we started feeling the PULL towards Florida. A dread, anticipation and a desire, all at once.
Dale watched the weather closely so we could move out and hit the road between cold fronts. Buses and ice DO NOT mix!
Now it was time to face the hardest part, the new reality awaiting us in Florida. It almost didn't seem real, from so far away, that daddy was actually gone. You *almost* could forget from 1500 miles away in snowy Kansas, because he wasn't part of THAT life if that makes sense?
But it was time, and we knew the Lord would provide the help we needed in this transition....
The big day is here, my heart aches and I have butterflies in my tummy, thinking of standing up to share about the man who holds such a big part of my heart.
My step mom, Drea had a super fun idea, that each of us should pop some sort of checkered flag clothing, in honor of dad finishing his race here on earth. He would've thought it was super cool.
The Floridian weren't sure what to think of cold Kansas, but they bundled up and stuck it out. I am grateful they flew and drove in to be part of today.
The service was beautiful! I don't have any photos except what people sent me, but my cousin read the obituary and added all kinds of fun details that dad would've loved. Chad and I spoke about dad, Pastor Howard had us go up together and that was really comforting.
I already shared my speech with you the other day, you can go read it here:
Chad's went something like this, although he changed it up quite a bit. Including a line about passing gas when he was nervous, which I quickly walked away from the pulpit. Haha, laugh so you don't cry, right?
Dad was my hero. He was a best friend and a friend to all. He did not know a stranger. In fact all my friends during grade school, high school and present, realize that he was a cool dad. And was in fact probably cooler than me.
I remember sitting in church as a kid and we would pass notes back and forth with drawings pictures of trucks and cars.
I remember the story he told about how he fell asleep in church and woke suddenly, kicking the pew in front and scaring a lady half to death. He seemed to be able to scare everyone with his crazy loud sneezes.
From the time I could walk, I was at my dad's side. I went to his meetings with him, to work, to the races, and I was always known as "Clay's son". And I was proud to be known as that.....
I thought it was normal to know what a time card was and a pay check was in 4th grade. Any time we talked about work Dad said that I had it easy. He started working at about age 5 and they would strap him to a tractor and send him out to the field until he was done.
My summers where a highlight as I was able to work at dads KTC Shop during the week and spend late nights going racing on the weekends. We had a blast doing this!
Many times we would bring our friends to experience the night time excitement. Towards the end it was usually Dad and I driving together in the semi to and from the races. He called this "windshield time" for us to talk about life, schools, friends and pretty girls.
During the winter time we would spend hours every weekend chasing each other around on 4 wheelers. It was always best in the snow. He said it was a good excuse to stay in shape for the off season of racing.
After ktc trucking business closed, it seemed he was able to pick up and go with about any job or opportunity without hesitation. He was always so smart and driven when it came to business.
Once Dad moved to Florida, it was about two years before I made my way down there to work for my dad again. He had the opportunity to buy a furniture store and was excited to get me involved. He knew I loved selling and thought it was a good fit.
I dont remember a time when I said "Go fast, Dad!" that he didn't go fast. Whether it was a work pick up, his motorcycle or one of his cars, he never seemed to pass on these chances.
He taught me what a controlled drift was, as he was able to go completely around the circle parking lot of 1st Nazarene Church, sideways when it was snowy.
I'm pretty sure I showed several friends later what I learned....
Dad loved to go fast and was extremely competitive. As you all know he was an amazing racer thru his life and was remembered in the dirt track as the flying preacher. This was mainly for his boldness in praying before races or offering it up after an accident.
Dad was not only competitive but also a trickster! He didn't pass up an opportunity to scare us or pull a prank.
I can think of several occasions of us literally crying on the floor from laughing so hard. Normally from either Mom or Tonya peeing their pants from being scared, or hearing about something he pulled on a friend or brother during his younger years.
He showed us how to pull out Kleenexs from peoples hands right as they blew their nose, or pretending to hit his head somewhere, usually a door or sign. Something rhat made a nice ruckus. Usually someone came running to see if he was ok because he was a good actor too.
Another good trick we learned from Dad (which he said his brothers showed him) was how to make a gutter at the dinner table using the table cloth and soaking your neighbors pants with water. The stories go on and on....and Dad is leaving a huge void here on earth. He will be missed greatly.
He always knew what to say. He always knew what you needed, he always had a way out and he always knew how to fix it.
He could literally rig anything to working with tape, a few old bolts and misc parts he had saved in his tool box. We really gave him a hard time about this, but each of us needed him many times for repairs!
One thing I know for sure..... I never heard him yell. He was always soft spoken but stern. If he was talking, you were listening. Even under serious stress or a lap car causing him to wreck - he was always calm. And of course I was a perfect child so he didn't have to yell.
He always had faith in me. He always encouraged me to just do it. He always let me try before helping. He trained me to be a thinker, a doer. He told me that common sense is better than any school degree, so use your noggin.
I always knew I'd work for him and it's an honor and joy to carry on that legacy for him at our Florida furniture store and to have my oldest son carry on the CEB name.
I could talk for hours about my Dad , but I know that my sister will do it for me next.
Ps 127:3. Be strong and courageous ...
Next up was a beautiful memorial message from Pastor Howard, and special music. Again, no photos, but we ended the service with closing prayer, and a special guest.....
Dad's good friend, and race announcer and radio personality, Warren Hardy closed out the service with a checkered flag finish.....
He did AWESOME, painting a word picture of that dirt track and the final laps of an exciting A Feature.
He ended with something like.....
"They are coming around the final turn, and Clay Bontrager, 7B has finished the race!"
Oh man, it was so great, just the right ending to celebrate dad's final chapter. He would've been proud to have his friend announce his final race home. We handed out little flags to all the family at the service.
My little pall bearers and their cousins, helped load Papa and off we went to the gravesite, in a small amish mennonite town near by. His brothers and parents are also buried here.
We all stuck our flags out the windows.....
It was cold, cold, cold. This part was going to be short and sweet. A few words and "I'll Fly Away" by the mens quartet.
This was the part I was dreading the most, I was having flashbacks to Don's funeral (Dale's daddy) and remembered the awful finality of that box going into the ground.....
Someone sent the grandkids a flower arrangement that could be taken apart and laid on the casket, so amazing.
Dale and my dad were very close, they worked well together and got along like best buds. I am so thankful someone captured this moment of him saying his final goodbyes to my dad.
And just like that, the box was lowered in the ground, and my heart broke into a million pieces and tears poured from my eyes. I couldn't help myself, sobs burst forth. In that moment, there was nothing to do but grieve in the deepest sense of loss and finality.
I still don't think this will all hit me until I go back to "his" neck of the woods. Back to Florida, where he is missing. He isn't usually here in Kansas with us, unless he is visiting, so it doesn't feel abnormal to have him gone.
I have picked up my phone to call him twice. Dale checked his phone for the text, how far did you all make it tonight? as we drove the 3 days home. And the first person he wanted to show our new railing apartment photo to, was dad. So instead, Dale just stood there and wept bitter tears for all we have lost in the past 3 years -
A Papa named Don, who lived out his final weeks in our living room, gone 3 years ago. A Grandma, who treated Dale as a son, just months ago, going to see Jesus. And now, this.
Another Papa gone, another loss to bear.
My Paxton Clay asked, "Hey Momma, do we have any more Papas left?"
Oh buddy, no. I am sorry you sure don't.
I had a prayer warrior friend call me on the way home to the Kansas funeral, she said Tonya, the Lord showed me in a dream something about your daddy and I'd like to share it with you. I don't want to hurt your heart, but I think you need to know this....
Your daddy, he was given the choice to go to Jesus. He was given a choice to be healed in a miracle here on earth, or healed in a miraculous eternity in Heaven. He picked heaven. He picked Jesus.
Who wouldn't after catching a glimpse of something so unimaginably beautiful?
There were days at the end, where he just stared at the ceiling, absent, that I wondered if he was visiting with Jesus. This was confirmation and it came again, one more time in a person I hadn't met before. There was no doubt. I LOVE when the Lord speaks to His hurting children, and when He repeats Himself, I LISTEN.
It was something I had never heard of before, someone being given a choice. But I believe. And it gave me great peace and hope.....
Congrats on your victory lap, daddy. You've fought the good fight, you've WON the final race, and you are the victor......
Traveling back to Kansas after dad passed, was kind of surreal. Going back to his roots, and mine, when it still didn't feel "real" yet that he is gone.
Even as I blog this today, it doesn't feel real that when we get back to Florida, he won't be there waiting for us. I just don't even have the words to begin to explain......
Anyhow, there are a lot of extra details when a body is being transported across state line, so lots of prayers were going up for the flight dad needed to make to arrive in time for his service, despite snow and paperwork delays. (not dad, his empty body, but you know what I meant.)
It was an extra long 3 days home. We were are emotionally and physically worn out. Once we arrived, we basically hit the ground running, planning the service and preparing for the viewing and about a bazillion details that I had forgotten about. All the while praying paperwork would go through in time for dad's body to arrive in time for service, which would take place right before Christmas, on the 22nd.
Then I get the call we had been praying for....
Your dad safely arrived at the airport last night at midnight, and our guys were able to pick him up without delay.
How strange, to hear those words, without the rush of anticipation of a lovely visit from Papa, flying in to see us for a bit. I promptly burst into tears.
It was such a blessing to be back home and surrounded by family and friends willing to bring in meals, run errands and help with details. Not cooking when you are emotionally drained, is a gift! Even if it was PB&J, it'd taste better if someone else made it. Haha ;)
My dad has raced since he was 19. He raced corvettes, modifieds, drag racing and then when I was a kid, dirt track racing in a sprint car. He has always been 7B, and he won many national championships.
Because of this, it was only natural that we select the verse for his service to be:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." II Timothy 4:7
We had asked Dad's friends and race crew chef, to do some custom painting on dad's casket. We had it made by a local Amishman and got to pick out the interior fabric.
My dad would've LOVED it....
I asked Jesus to let him peek down on it.
Many many hours were spent first taking it from oak to black and then hand painting the details, just like they used to on the racecar.
We had a private viewing at the funeral home, just the family, before the public viewing that night. Everything turned out just beautifully! Flowers and all.
It was very very emotionally to see him again. Chad's kids were full of questions about Papa and his race car he was in. It was precious. Mine were tearful, they knew he was gone, but you just cannot prepare for the finality of these moments.
Dad would've loved the viewing, all his race buddies, family and friends, coming out to pay their respects and honor his life.
We had a slideshow running, of dad's life and all the happy memories we made....
We were there from 5 to 8pm, and when the final guest left, it was time to lock up, go home and prepare for the hardest day yet. The day we lay him to rest....the day I had to stand up and try to put into words, all this special man meant to me. To us.
To honor him in a celebration of a life well lived.
The Piano Guys - The Sweetest Gift
I'm not gonna lie Christmas really hurts this time
Cause you're not here to celebrate with me.
Tears fill my eyes
The memories flood my mind
As I place your ornament upon our tree.
Although this year I have a broken heart
It gives me hope and joy as I remember where you are.....
You're with the Son of God,
You're with the Prince of Peace,
You're with the one who's celebrating
And that thought amazes me.
Sometimes I still break down
Grieving that we're apart...
But the sweetest gift is knowing where you are
You're with the Son of God.
Merry Christmas, daddy!
Miss you so much,
Your Punkin xoxo
You know how you know something might be coming, and think you are at peace and prepared for it, and then it wallops you upside the head, and you realize there is literally, absolutely, no way to ever be ready for these moments?
So its very very very hard to find a place to stay in southern Florida in the winter....we knew we might have to do some RV Park hopping. Not the end of the world, but annoying none the less. And the next closest RV park with openings can be hours away, not condusive for running over for a quick minute to help with dads care.
And the Lord moved mountains again, for us to stay at the RV park closest to my dad's house for the next MONTH straight. Thank you, Jesus! We are less than 3 miles away!!!!
I really really love the setting!!!!! This place rocks!
We always put out this sign my dad made us, but everything becomes more special at a time like this, right? Sigh.
I had to take a photo to share.
The kids FAVORITE part is that we have 2 perfect hammock trees right outside the door. They read out there for hours!
The RV park itself is really nice too. We do family walks at the end of the day and swim most afternoons at the nice pool. We go see Papa as much as possible, while also allowing them their own schedule and time together.
We are making ourselves right at home, putting out a jar for sun tea, and Avery decided our RV number pole needed some Christmas Spirit. Look closely, there are antlers too! Clever girl.
We spend a lot of time out front under the awning, just enjoying the nice weather and some family time after school.
Uncle Chad and Lauren are coming down each weekend, this time kidless. Uncle Chad played so Battleship with Pax and he loved that.
The kids talked me into a $10 ginger bread kit. What a joke! They sure don't make em like they used to,
Did I just age myself? Hahah ;) Its so gross, they used to at least be real cookies, now its like cardboard.
We had Brie Arugula Burgers for dinner, yummo!
When the kids get antsy, we head the 5 minutes to the beach and RUN EM HARD. I still forget sometimes, we are so close to the ocean. We usually winter 3 hours north of here!!!!
I'll update you on dad soon.....the time is drawing near for his homecoming.
3 years ago, in the peak of his cancer battle, my dad felt like the Lord gave him a verse about allowing him 15 more years. He read it in his quiet time, and could never find it again, but it encouraged him and give him fight when he needed it.
The other day dad said to me, I wonder why He changed his mind????
OH my word, break my heart.
I said, Daddy you can still believe for 12 more years! We need our faith to be STRONGER than what our eyes can see! (some great advice from some awesome friends)
I think life can be a little discouraging when your two main things you love are taken from you - your ability to move and your ability to speak and joke as you are accustomed.
I hate seeing my daddy like this, and was praying and praying for a Word from the Lord, not only for him, but for ME too. This is the most discouraging situation! And no answers. So I needed SOMETHING, a nugget to hold on to the the Lord was with us.
And He ALWAYS answers!!! What a blessing!!!!!
Our awesome prayer warrior friends, Pastor Jesse and Edith, often call with a word from the Lord for us. I love when He speaks through them to me!!!
This time, the Lord woke Edith up in the middle of the night with a message for me to give to dad.......
These 2 verses! The very ones he had read years before....
She also said if my dad wants to go home, that its ok for him to want that too. Paradise awaits him. I asked daddy if he wanted to fight for life anymore and he said he wasn't sure.
I know that whether Jesus heals my daddy here on earth, or heals him by taking him to Heaven, that we can rejoice that there is life and hope and healing for us all.
Here and on the other side....
Update: 3 days after I made this post, dad stopped wanting to get out of his bed and sit in the chair. Hospice is saying 3 to 7 days. I almost didn't post this, but somehow, somewhere, this all fits into the story and I need it to be here to read later. xoxo
What a treat to get to have a Girls Day OUT! Well, a morning out anyhow. Dale and the boys stayed home with Papa, and the girls slipped out for farmers market, and a wonderful brunch at a darling old train station building.....
Flokie, Aunt Torreys sweet puppy, came too. We may or may not have tempted him with some french toast bites.... ;)
Look at that SWEET WITTLE FACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Check out these dishes!!! I am such a foodie. I appreciate fresh ingredients, yummy food and attention to detail. This place had it all!
Smoked salmon eggs on a brie smothered bread
Cinnamon roll pancakes
We hit the farmers market, no pics, but I did buy cucumbers for gyros and tomatoes and sweet onions for sandwiches for school lunches that week. YUMMM!!!!!
Sweet sisters, love them and their relationship!
We shopped a specialty grocery store and bakery and headed home to the guys....
It was time to call in a day......Flokie was PLUM worn out!
Many, many Florida trips ago, a tradition was started....
Saturday morning breakfast at the local Amish restaurant, Der Dutchman.
Amazing breakfast buffet with all the fixins: biscuits and gravy, grits, mush, oatmeal, hashbrowns and hashrown casserole, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, french toast, pancakes, fruit slush, fresh fruit, muffins, homemade donuts,
Are you drooling yet?
Here are some pics from years ago:
So when Saturday rolled around, we knew this was an important memory maker, even if dad wasn't feeling 100%. Chad and Lauren were still in town for the weekend, so it just seemed like the right thing to do, to all go and enjoy our tradition.
Somewhere over the years, a photo tradition was started, on Der Dutchmans sweeping staircase. I had to keep telling myself, surely this wasn't the LAST chance for a staircase photo, so I wouldn't burst into tears. We took cousin pics BEFORE food, while they were unloading Papa from the car, and saved the big family one for AFTER.
I can't find them all, but I unearthed a few staircase pics....
If love could keep someone alive, this guy's living forever.
And less we get too serious, we had to take a silly photo too.
Love these goofballs so much!
Hey guys! Did you all have a good Thanksgiving?
We enjoyed a nice day over at Drea and dad's house, eating, cooking and eating some more. We decided to set out a bunch of snacks at 11 and eat dinner at 4 or whenever turkeys got done.
There was SO. MUCH. FOOD.
We attempted not one, but TWO turkeys this year. A traditional roasted one doused in butter and fresh herbs and veggies..... Auntie Lauren, who is usually quite squeamish, got right in there! ;)
Turned out beautifully!
Second turkey was done outside by my step sister Ashley's boyfriend...check it out! Oh man was it ever GOOD!
Destiny and Avery requested REAL whipped cream for the pies, so I put them right to work on that. A chilled bowl and beater, a pinch of cinnamon and some vanilla and we had ourselves some GOURMET whipped cream.......
It was nice enough to eat outside, so we filed through the line then went out to the lanai.
There is much to be thankful for......
Some days, when Papa has doctors appointments, its just easier if we find something else to do.
There are lots of cool things to see and do here in Florida, so we headed to the 10th annual Chalk Festival, AFTER a stop at our favorite place.
Nokomis groves is an orange grove that makes their own soft serve ice cream, and holy cow, is it ever good! Orange pineapple is the BEST.
We arrived at the Chalk Festival, not quite sure what to expect. It took place on the run ways of the local airport. Here are photos from last year so you can visualize it:
The first thing we wanted to see, was the 3D drawings. WOW, were they ever amazing!!!! I am going to put side view and front view side by side here for you so you can see how LOOOOONG they really are until you stand directly in front of them.
Some of these I didn't "SEE" until we looked at the photo, crazy right?!
I took A LOT of photos, as did my husband and kiddos, so brace yourself.....
After the section of 3D art, there was some squares of pastels too.....and an area where the kids could draw on the wall and ground.
Get better Papa.....
Such a fun day!
We have settled into our life here in Florida. The RV park is stunning and has an incredible pool, putt putt mini golf and like I said, is so super close to dad and Drea's house. What a blessing!
We do school in the morning, go say hi to dad sometimes, eat lunch, swim at the pool and head back over for family dinner....
The kids just like to be near him.....they read or color quietly. The tears come at bedtime, when they process the day. I am thankful they allow those tears and emotions to flow out, its healthy for them and we know the Lord bottles those tears up in Heaven.
Papa loves having his head rubbed with fractionated coconut oil and essential oils. We use frank, copiba, peppermint, lime, white fir and lemongrass with great results!
One day we took the kids out to eat fresh sea food and see the sunset. It's amazing what walking and sitting on the beach can do for your weary soul.....
I needed to be reminded of a Creator who loves me, who loves my dad, and who wants the best for our family. Who wants to see dad prosper and live a long life on the earth......
What an incredible artistic Father we serve. The author and the finisher, the beginning and the end.
Thank you, Jesus!
We are soaking up every moment with dad as we adjust to our RV life again. It was way smoother than I imagined it would be after being in the apartment so long. We are all so happy and settled and every single one of us, at one time or another has said, "I am so happy we are back in the RV!"
My brother Chad, and sis in law, Lauren came down kid free and spent the weekend down here. It was so good to see them!
Papa is joining us for dinner each night. He is such a trooper!
Everyone knows that when the door is closed to Papa's office, its time to be quiet and let him rest. He sleeps a lot, and that's good, that's when his body can knit and heal.
So we play games and read.....and enjoy the nice weather!
Grammy took us to this HUGE, amazing library! Oh how we love paper books!!!
Playing games with Aunt Torrey and Uncle Daniel
At night we hang out on the lanai and chill by the fire. The weather couldn't be more perfect!
Good byes are never easy.....
I had to snag this photo of Chad and dad holding hands and just visiting a bit before he left to go back.
I knew he wouldn't love his posture, so I told him to stand up straighter and I'd take it again.
Chad being the goofball that he is.....delivered!
Laughter is really good medicine.....
It's amazing how one call can alter your whole day, week, plans...all of it.
Tuesday, we got a warning call from my sister in law, that my dad wasn't doing really great. She said, just be on stand by, in case you have to jump and run. She was sweet, but real with me. I was at lunch with my family and two friends, and hung up bawling. It's so hard to be far away from your loved ones when things aren't good.
If you recall, my daddy has been through ALOT this past 3 years. Fighting successfully lung cancer, brain cancer and then spine cancer. He has beat 5% odds and walked out of the hospital a medical miracle more times than I can count.
He is using essential oils to support his body during this process and he is a picture of health! Very active. We love traveling with him and my step mom and he even stayed with my kids for 2 weeks in Kansas while we were at convention.
We have made several tearful trips to Florida, thinking it was a good bye, when it was a miracle show. Like from ICU to home in 3 days, overcoming 5% success rate and more, from lung surgery, to massive saddle pulmonary embolisms to brain surgery.
God is still in the miracle business and daddy is living proof!
We had been spread out in the apartment with plans to stay through Christmas, so to pack the everything back into the RV, do laundry and gut the fridge in less than 3 hours, was nothing short of a miracle. We had friends and family come over to help make it happen. So thankful!
RIGHT as we were standing out in the road loading the last laundry basket, Dale gets a call, and goes white as a sheet. He turns to me with tears streaming down his cheeks, and says we have to go NOW. My step mom, Drea, called him bawling. Things were not good, she was scared we weren't going to make it in time.
We RAN into the house, shut off lights and our precious friends gathered in a circle around and prayed over us. I am SO SO blessed to have these kind of people in our lives! (Thank you, we love you all!)
We were pushing hard to get down in time, so after 2 long hard days without stopping, it was time to stretch our legs. The travel morale greatly improves when we do this! Georgia has a really nice rest area, so we pulled over and enjoyed some fresh air. The leaves were STUNNING!
So the trip down was not without troubles, and we found ourselves on the side of the road after a giant BOOM! I thought something was coming through the floor of our bathroom. For the first time in almost 3 years, we blew a Coach tire.....
Miracle of miracles, we were quarter of a mile from a tire store. Second of all, instead of paying $1000 to have it fixed on the side of the road, we were able to limp in.
And even bigger miracle, they had not one but TWO, new tires to sell us. Most of the time, tires like this run $400 plus EACH. (When you replace one tire, you replace two or they are uneven, due to tread difference, who knew? Not me!)
Proof the Lord is always with His children, the tires they sold us had been on another truck for ONE WEEK, so they sold us BOTH for $400 and threw in some extra parts for the busted airline,
We continued on our way and realized about Gainsville Florida, we had a problem. When the tire blew, we must have also blown one of the air ride air bags and we were VERY VERY crooked the rest of the trip.
I took this shot once we got to the RV park, and had dropped the trailer off in parking, and unloaded car.....no wonder we felt like we were in one of those crazy houses at the state fair! :)
Another miracle, is that this beautiful RV park just a few miles down the road from Grammy and Papas house, had an opening. As you know, its peak season here in Florida for snow birds!
We quickly set up and jumped in the car to go see Papa. Lo and behold, he was out on the porch getting some Vitamin D and fresh air. Oh, it was SO good to hug his neck!
So let me catch you up, 3 weeks ago, on the way to dinner with friends, dad couldn't speak. He tried but nothing came out. Drea recognized the symptoms right away and had him pull over and took him to the hospital, where they determined he was having multiple seizures.
They saw cancer on his chart and chalked it up to brain surgery several years ago, and told us we were lucky it hadn't shown up before this. They sent him home. It just didn't add up. Why would this just FLIP so suddenly?
Several times they ended up in the hospital, and several times they got sent back home, as all tests came back clear. He's had headaches since this past summer, just not this bad. They amped up to the point of curl up on the floor, rocking and holding his head and violently vomiting bad. Brain scans came back clear and all this continues to be a mystery.
A week later, his motion has declined to the point of a cane or he tips over, and his speech is quite slurred. At times he forgets what he is saying, or gets frustrated because the right words don't come out at the right times. He is such a joyful communicator and keeps us in stitches with his funny remarks and stories when we are together. I know this is hard on him.
Now we have morphined up Papa, and no answers,
We are in the Lord's waiting room asking for a miracle! Will you join me?