Live.

Yesterday for Thanksgiving, my family got together at a table full of Chinese food to catch up, chew the fat, and reminisce. Besides a last minute scramble to find a Chinese restaurant which was actually open (called 15, only 1 was) – it went off without a hitch. A few folks said to me something along the lines of “with how well you cook, you got takeout?” It is tradition. I cannot really recall when it began, but at least one holiday per year we would grab takeout.

Nobody would spend hours over the stove only to fill up within minutes, no big cleanup required, just a pile of deliciousness, conversation, and revelry. Most of the day I had a smile on my face, but there was something missing. Someone missing. Last year after we finished dinner, I called the ambulance that would take my father to the hospital for the last time. A year ago this Sunday, he was gone.

I remember the look on his face a few days earlier, his blue eyes open wide in excitement as he smiled and said to me… “I’ll be waiting for you.”

Grieving was new to me. I had lost family, friends, relationships, cats, etc… it made me sad. Sometimes I wept, but I did not grieve. Every pain I felt before November 28th, 2020 was a papercut compared to the gaping wound carved in my heart that day. To this day, it could be a thought, a song, a scene in a movie… and it all comes rushing back, once again upended by grief. In my grief though, I realized just how blessed I truly am.

My faith in Christ removed the sting of death from me, removed the fear of it. It hurt then as it does now, but I cannot imagine going through this level of loss without my faith. I know where my dad is. I know he is within God’s glory, reunited with everyone he ever knew. I can only imagine the conversations he has had over the past year. I know he is free of pain, anxiety, fear, and worry. God is love, and my dad is in a place where the only thing that exists is love.

I miss him. Every day. I talk to him every day. So many times I see something, or I do something and the first thought in my mind is “dad would have loved this.” I believe that he checks in on me now and again, and in those moments he is nearer to me than I can possibly understand. He is waiting for me, but until then, I am taking the long road back home. I know his story as he told it to me, he LIVED his life, FOUGHT his fight, and FINISHED his race.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

2 Timothy 4:7-8

So I am taking a page out of his book. I cannot say I have not wasted some time this year, but down time is as important as uptime to me. Nothing in this life comes to us by chance. Every breath brings about infinite opportunity and possibility. I spent much time over the past year grieving, and reflecting upon the 41 years I got to share with my dad – but for every minute I spent grieving 2 more were dedicated to moving forward.

When that day comes when I stand before God in judgment, I do not want to even consider looking back to my life like I missed out on something. My father left me with a clean slate, he moved on with no regrets between us. Nothing was left unsaid. That is a blessing right there. Time does not stop, and the days have become a blur. While I am still here, I will not be standing still as I wait to see him again. He has inspired me. That is why I am leaving.

Over the past few months I have been preparing, and soon I will be packing up my tent and heading south. Next week, my home is going up for sale as I shift my focus to finding a new place to plant my flag in the state of Georgia. It is a big move. I am leaving behind everything and every one I have ever known to walk the path I believe God has set out before me. This is not by chance, it is an opportunity, and I am not getting any younger.

I do not want to look back 10 years from now and think “I should have gone there,” or “I should have done that.” God moves in our lives every single day, but He also gave us the free will to deny Him. I would like to think I spent 39 of my 42 years doing my best, but I did not take many chances. I played it safe. Countless paths God laid out only for me to get distracted by some shiny temptation that only led to loss and regret. No more. I am listening, Lord.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philippians 1:21

I will live to glorify God. When I die, I will meet Him face to face, and my wait will be over. Until that day comes, I am going to LIVE. I am going to push my boundaries and follow His path. By God’s grace and mercy, I am going to make the wait worth it. Everything I am is because of my mom and dad, and how they raised me. I could not have asked for better parents. God did that for me. I know my dad is still with me as I take the long road home to see him again. I love you dad.

God bless.

12 as you anticipate and hasten the coming of the day of God, when the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with God’s promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, as you anticipate these things, make every effort to be found at peace—spotless and blameless in His sight.…

2 Peter 3:12-14

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