Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Papa


Any of you who know me well, know that my grandfather meant the world to me. There is no one else who can ever possibly fill the special place he had in my heart; there’s nothing else to say except that he will always be irreplaceable. It’s been 21 months since he’s been gone, but I’ve been thinking about him more than usual since we’ve known about Poppy. On that day in July when we got the news, I began missing him all over again. At first, I was sad because I wanted so badly to be able to tell him, and hug him, and have him just to be there. But since that initial wave of emotions, I’ve been struck on several occasions by the fact that even though he’s not here, he still teaches and encourages me by the example he set for me all my life.

There are so many things that could be said about Papa, but to me one of the striking characteristics of his life was his positive attitude and his determination to have joy in every situation and circumstance. When he was in the hospital for gallbladder surgery, he was found jumping up and down in the bed. When he was recovering from open-heart surgery, I never once saw him down. When he was undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer, he took me out in a speedboat and drove like a wild teenager and laughed until tears ran down his cheeks. When speaking of his chemo he told us, "It's kind of like a hobby for me." He had a gift. His enthusiasm and love for life were contagious, and they drew people to him.

When I was about seven, my mom and sister and I went through a crisis in our lives, but through that very dark year, I remember so clearly how much fun Papa brought to my life. We would race home from church, watch silly movies, play monopoly, watch his favorite cartoon “Roadrunner”, and just plain have fun. That’s not to say that Papa ignored the seriousness of the situation or looked down upon crying or expressing grief, because no one could have been more compassionate. He simply taught me at an early age that even in the times of greatest sadness, it is okay to laugh and live life.

All of this came rushing back to me a few days ago when I realized that I had subconsciously been walking around with an obligation to be somber. At the doctor’s office when I walked in and the receptionist asked me how I was, I found myself responding in a subdued tone that I was okay. When I went about my errands, I realized I felt a need to let the weight of the situation filter out into my mannerisms and expressions. There’s no other way to say it except that I felt that I needed to maintain an attitude of gravity. Then all of the sudden while I was driving in the car, something in my mind triggered a memory about Papa, and everything about his love of life and laughter flooded over me. In fact, I started laughing at myself as I drove along. It dawned on me that God has been giving me a supernatural peace and strength, and to ignore that by trying to put on a seriousness that I wasn’t even feeling is just plain, ugly ingratitude for what He is doing in my heart. The truth is, I am experiencing a wide gamut of emotions, but throughout most of my days, the primary emotion is not grief. It comes in waves and it hits me at unexpected moments, and in those moments, I know it is okay to cry and call out to Jesus. But, in the meantime, I feel such a freedom in knowing that God wants me to live. He wants me to have happy and wonderful moments in the middle of this dark time in our lives. I feel it from the bottom of my heart, and so now, I’m focused on just being honest with my emotions. When I am happy, I want to be happy without any guilt, and when I am sad, I want to feel the freedom to express that as well. I read a verse that confirmed this in my heart this morning. It is from Psalm 116:9, and it says “I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

There are dark moments ahead of us, and I pray God that He begins right now to prepare us to handle the force of those waves of grief that are to come, but for now, He has given me Poppy, and I want to rejoice in the time I have. I don’t take one little kick or movement for granted. I don’t know how much time God will give us with her, but I know I have her today. And when Jesus takes her home, I already have a comfort in knowing that Papa will be there to welcome her to heaven.

16 comments:

Mandy said...

I have a Papa in heaven too with Madeline. What a comfort that is. I know exactly what you mean by feeling obligated to appear somber even when your heart feels joy. I still struggle with that to this day. I am praying for you guys and would love to help you in any way I can. I am inspired by all that you write. Thank you for sharing.

Mandy
GA
www.madelinegracehopkins.blogspot.com

Ashley said...

Angie, as much as I have know idea or could possible know what yall are going through, that was really inspiring and encouraged me to look at my own life in that way. What an encouragement thank you for sharing and you are in our prayers.

Ashley Gipson

Jeanne & Phil said...

I couldn't help but smile while reading your memories of your Papa. So true, so true. I'm so happy that the Lord is showing you joy in the midst....We love you, Nathan and Marianna so much. You and Nathan write your thoughts so beautifully. We are blessed to be a part of it. I pray for you often.

Jessica said...

Angie, what a wonderful tribute to your Papa! You were so lucky to have had him! He was such a Godly man and I know that he is so proud of you for your honesty and how tightly you and Nathan are holding onto Jesus during this difficult time! I have no idea what this must be like for you, but God definitely used you and Poppy tonight to speak to my heart and encourage me to LIVE! I am praying for you and your family.

Jana said...

what an amazing reminder that Jesus gives us a joy that can only come from Him. . .I am thankful that during the midst of these seemingly dark days, you are still able to feel that joy.

julie said...

We have been friends for such a long time, and you still amaze me how strong and faithful you are! You are such an encouragement!

Katie Delk said...

Angie, I just wanted you to know that I am praying for you daily. You have such a strong walk with the Lord and it is so encouraging to everyone who reads it. I am so blessed every time I read your blog. I am praying God's richest blessings upon your lives.
Katie

jeweljannie said...

Dear Angie,
I also have missed our Papa so much. But I also smile when I think about him and the joy that he brought to all of us, even in the darkest of times.
He also taught me that it is okay to laugh and have hilarious fun even when my world was crashing down all around me. I think that is the reason all of us loved him so much.
When I look back on those hard days, I actually think of them fondly. I know that it is so much because of the laughter that we all shared together as a family.
Your Papa would be so proud of you.Scratch that . Your Papa is so proud of you, and I know that he is smiling right now as he is thinking of you . I am smiling right now as I am thinking about you. Of course my smile is mixed with those pesky little tears that seem to be running down my face! I love you so much, and I am so proud of you and Nathan.

joycerogers1933 said...

Dearest Angie and Nathan: What a blessing your profession of faith is to my life!
Yes, how I wish your Papa was here too. He would put his strong arms around you and hold you close. I'm sure his love is reaching out to you from heaven and his prayers are ever being lifted up in your behalf. He would want you to laugh and be filled with "joy through your teardrops."
What a blessing it was to me last night to hear you teaching little Marianna the 23rd Psalm by having her fill in the blanks. Today I bless you with peace--He is Jehovah Shalom--the Lord your peace . May He lead you "beside the still waters."
I love you dearly and pray for you always!
Grammy

micah said...

angie, i love the concept of allowing the emotions of our god-given humanity to run their course while being mindful of where the come from. thanks for the reminder of allowing that to be the case for us all. love you two!

Cindy said...

I found you blog through boothe farleys' site. It was so encouraging to read through some of your entries. God called my 6 yr. old little girl home almost 6 months ago. It has been something I never would have chosen of course, yet to experience God's grace and to gain a perspective on heaven that I didn't have before has made the journey much gentler. It is all about perspective! You find yourself in moments of unexplainable grief, and then you have to plead for God to bring you back to right thinking. Oh, how we are so dependent on Him, and that is where we should be. I hope today is a good day for you, thank you for encouraging me. Keep writing, it's such a wonderful gift! God Bless, and know you will be added to my list of prayers.
"I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Ps. 16:8
www.logansrace.com
Cindy Waldeck

bought1 said...

I will bless the LORD at all times,His praise shall continually be in my mouth. at all times?? How is this possible? Is this possible?
(Hallelujah!-it is so-amen.)

Between Kelsey and Kaylor we have our precious Kallen waiting for us when we arrive home. She will be in the full flower of her beauty, unblemished and unscarred by this world. What joy awaits us there! It won't be long now and we will be a together and forever family. I too wonder if she is now part of the great cloud of witnesses. She was and is such a witness to Beth and I, even though she was with us on this side of Jordan for such a short time. Our time here is so precious. Life is so sacred and our God is so good. We are also so blessed by Providence to have been under the shepherding of one of God's prophets.
Angie and Nathan, tis grace hath brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home. As "Grammy" has said, we do need now today to "Lean hard on Jesus". We will pray with you.

"Papa" read to Beth and I about 17 years ago now, these words:

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;" 2 Corinthians 1.3

Seventeen years from today, will you remember?

Our sacrifice of praise today- "O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together".


With great expectations, Carl & Beth

bear said...

Angie, I love how you and Nathan are being so transparent and sharing your heart with us. I thank the Lord for your maturity and your total reliance upon the Lord. As I have read your thoughts, I have wept and rejoiced and prayed and been stirred in my heart to pray harder and draw closer to God.

Thank you for sharing about Papa. He epitomized a man of God, fueled daily by the joy of the Lord. His contagious enthusiasm left an indelible mark on my life. He is praying for you today and he is cheering you on. As i read your journal, I know that Papa is smiling because you are living for Jesus like he did and you are a beautiful reflection of the life lessons that he wrote upon your heart.

I have wept tonite as I remember the events that happened 18 years ago. I am so glad that you and Rachel and your mom made it through that storm, and each of you are beautiful trophies of His Grace. I am thankful that God is using each of you to enrich every life that you touch and my life is forever changed because of your love and forgiveness and tender mercies. Our God is such an Awesome God. I've had some terrible hurts in my life, many of them self-inflicted. And yet God always causes ALL things to work together for good, to them that love God.

I will pray for you and Nathan and Poppy Joy daily. I am so glad that you are putting on a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. You have touched my life. I will never be the same.

Love always,
bear

Denise & Jeff said...

Your Papa has such a special place in our hearts. Our lives have forever been changed through his life and ministry. Your Papa and grandma encouraged Jeff and I during our journey with Deanna Grace. I can still hear the words from Psalm 63:3-5 that your grandma spoke and sang at her dedication, "Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you. Thus I will bless you while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips". They chose to have joy in every situation and circumstance and encouraged us all to do the same. Thank you for choosing to praise the Lord with joyful lips even during difficult times.

Sherrie said...

Angie It was so good seeing you today. You looked so beautiful. reading this made me wish I had the opportunity to meet your grandfather. I know how great of a leader he was, but much more than that he seemed to be an awesome grandfather to you. What a blessing! How I wish I had a support system like that.

Kim said...

Ok, I just figured out who your Papa is!!! Adrian Rogers!?? My family lived in Memphis for awhile, and we had lots of friends who attended his church. What a legacy!!!! Wow!!! Sorry for the double post, but I just wanted to tell you I think very highly of your Papa.:)