Friday, July 31, 2009

Preach Always, and if Necessary Use Words

Well... God just refuses to stop working. Amen. If you've been following the blog, you may remember the story about the cleaning lady accepting the Lord in May. This was right after she overheard my mom sharing the story of dad sharing the gospel and a tract with his palliative care nurse. Well... the nurse has been back, several times and just moments ago, prayed to receive Jesus Christ as her Saviour. She told my mom that, "Jesse is the talk of the healthcare circle. There is something so different and peaceful about him." He had the biggest smile that I have seen today. There is something about spreading the good news that gives life! Praise God that when we are weak he is still strong!

Health-wise, today his pulse is slightly weaker, breathing is shallower and he's a bit more sleepy yet he seems very full of life!

I wanted to share these inspired words that a close friend left on this blog back in May. I was so encouraged when I read it:

"I am continuously sharing with many people about a man who is finishing well. As his race may be coming to an end soon, he is choosing to finish strong, the way Paul did. Your dad has amazing things awaiting him in heaven. I have never known anyone like him and I am so blessed that he has been part of my life for 20 years. He is an encouragement to so many and will leave a legacy behind that will stay in people's minds forever; a man who fought to the very end, never gave up, and despite his circumstances, continued to take part in the great commission. Your dad is one of the greatest people I have ever known and I can already see him and Paul sitting together in the kingdom talking about all the things that they saw happen on this earth and about God's goodness and love!"

Praise God for all He has done, is doing and will continue to do!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Tribute to My Dad

Just when you think you are out of time, you are blessed with another day. We are still praying for that peaceful transition to eternal life as he has been having some pretty scary coughing and choking spells. He has spent the majority of the last few days sleeping and has still been regularly notifying us of noticeable changes in his breathing and overall feeling.

Tonight, I pulled out the Birthday Book and read a few entries. Many people contributed favorite memories or stories of how he has impacted their life and I compiled them for his birthday. As we have spent a fair bit of time reminiscing, I thought I'd share what I wrote with you... mostly because I don't have permission from anyone else to publicly share their words!

My Normal Dad

I guess you could say my dad is pretty normal. He did the “dad” stuff. He drove me to school and picked me up from practices. He cheered me on and offered advice about sports, some he knew nothing about and every once in a while, an actual word of wisdom.

He picked me up in his work truck from elementary school and took me for a “special time” at lunch. He wrestled with us and taught us to play basketball in our backyard. He fixed my car and snuck me gas money whenever he could. He made sacrifices to help me pay my way through school. He campaigned for me when I needed to raise money for basketball. He drank too much coffee and could still fall asleep anywhere! When we were younger, he used to recline his seat at a red light and say, “wake me up when it’s green.” He was a bottomless pit and consumed enough food for an army each day yet managed to gain less than 10lbs in almost 30 years. Not bad at all!

Every once in a while he would try to lose weight and the obvious move was to cut back on rice. As a true Filipino, this could only ever last a few days at most. He gave in anytime I needed $5. He taught me to drive standard. He was awkward talking about “girl” subjects but always attempted none-the-less. He tried to intimidate boys that liked me and would try to send Mike home at 9:00 on a Friday night because, didn’t I have to get up early for school tomorrow? He would always help me load my car in going to and from college. He never got sick, he rarely cried and getting stung by a bee or burned didn’t seem to bother him. He sometimes resembled a superhero.

My Different Dad

In other ways, my dad is pretty different. Some would even say the things he does are strange! Every dad is human and loses his patience every once in a while. But my dad, always prompted by the Holy Spirit, was and continues to be humble enough to confess to his daughters and ask for my forgiveness whenever necessary.

My dad wasn’t the kind of guy who was into having his own stuff. Instead, he was concerned with putting the needs of our family above his own and taking care of the needs of those around him. The only things I remember him buying himself that wasn’t purely out of necessity like Ivory Soap or Tim Horton’s was a frying pan right before last Christmas and the occasional new pair of khaki pants. Yet, I always had new basketball shoes, rent money and an vehicle to drive, often not the same one as the day before.

He wasn’t scary to my friends as some dads can be. But was very friendly, approachable and conversational, even if they couldn’t understand what he was saying or if he repeated the same questions each time he saw a particular friend! He always tried to take time to get to know them.

Every morning when I would come down for breakfast I would see my dad at the dining room table with his Bible open getting his bread for the day. And I do mean everyday. In the mix of conversation with me and normal questions like, what are you learning in school, he would ask probing questions like, “What is God doing in your life?” Once, I made the mistake of thoughtlessly replying with, "nothing." His response was a mini-lesson on how God is always at work around you, you just have to be aware of it!

My dad was obsessed with cleanliness. He did the dishes and bathed the kids- not traditional man jobs. He was also obsessed with hygiene. When I got to the age where I could shower myself, he would always ask me if I washed my body. If I said yes, he would smell my arms to make sure, and if they weren’t clean enough, back I had to go for round two. When we did the dishes he would inspect the clean ones to make sure they were clean enough.

He didn’t care for spoiling us with trivial things we wanted, though you could twist his arm occasionally! Instead he gave us everything we needed for life and godliness. As I look back on our relationship I can see the spiritual imprints that he has left along the way. Through the example of his life I have seen what the life of a righteous and godly man looks like and you truly cannot put a price tag on the privilege of being his daughter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More Precious Moments

When? It seems to be the million dollar question around here. Time is a mystery. We keep asking dad, each other, nurses and health care workers, how much time do we have? But only God knows when my dad will transition from this life to the next. He has continued to ask us to pray that it would be peaceful and without a struggle. In the meantime, Psalm 27:14 calms my anxious heart: "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

In the meantime we've been on a rollercoaster. Sometimes we weep, sometimes we laugh, sing and talk. And sometimes we just bawl. Dad keeps passing onto us his words of wisdom. One thing that I will surely remember always is, "Don't let this disease discourage your faith in Christ." What words from a man who has suffered so much. The majority of his words have focused on pointing us to God with only a few exceptions. He threw a few practical ones in the mix as well that we couldn't help but chuckle at. "Tell Mike and Frankie to learn how to fix cars," and "If I die in the lazyboy chair, please still use it." Such a godly, practical man. Didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Our family has been extremely blessed by dad's caregivers. Last night, he thanked Sonia for all her help with him. Through tears she said, "No, thank-you. Because of you I have this new life." You never know how God is going to work. In December, God prompted Dad to share the gospel with Sonia and she accepted Christ into her heart. In February, Sonia shared the gospel with the newest caregiver Nella and she accepted Christ on her second day. When visiting Portugal last month, Nella shared the gospel with her sister who accepted Christ who then shared the gospel with her brother who accepted Christ. There's been a whole lot of God-calling, gospel-sharing and Christ-accepting and I am blessed by seeing how he is at work through these circumstances!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Family Moments

Last night we had a wonderful time as a family. Dad requested that all his girls spend some time with him as he was sensing a lot of change in his body. He said that he felt different and that he might be in the last stage of the disease. He asked us to pray for a peaceful transition from this life to the next. He also also said he wanted to pray a prayer of blessing over his girls. We silently placed our hands under his as he prayed in his heart for us. It was very special.

We shared stories, laughed, cried and prayed together. All of had been working on some Father's Day songs that had not been finished. Ang and Christina's is radio-worthy and mine and Emily's is at best, laugh-worthy. We are so thankful for time. It truly is a gift. My mom saved a copy of a poem I started to write last summer and forgot about. Last night, I was able to finish it.
It's called, "You're Still My Dad."

You're still my dad
Though your speech has gotten slow,
You still have so much wisdom
That I need to help me grow.

You're still my dad
Though your feet don't move as fast,
Your faithful steps have guided many
In the present and the past.

You're still my dad
Though you no longer talk a lot
I can guess what you are thinking
When the twinkle in your eye lights up.

You're still my dad
You are not the burden that you feel,
I have prayed that in your heart
You would truly know that's real.

You will always be my dad
Even when you are no longer here,
The impact you will have
Will forever be so near.

You will always be my dad
When many years have come to pass
I only hope to be the faithful servant
That you were until your last.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Changing Times

I feel as though I've blinked and time has passed. I was saying to my mom yesterday that I cannot even remember when all of this happened. The last year and a half has passed in a blur and it's hard to remember when certain milestones occurred. It's hard to believe that this time last year we were enjoying the Philippines as a family. Dad was walking and talking and sharing many of his experiences from growing up. In March, the doctors estimated that he had 3-6 months left. We passed the 3 month mark on July 8th. Now we cherish the present and wait.

We've continued to see many changes even between days only. He has become extremely fatigued and weak making the little aspects of daily life even more difficult such as swallowing and interacting. He still uses the letter board very minimally and now relies heavily on leg motions to communicate needs.

Life is just hard sometimes. Thank you for your continued prayers and keep them up! They do make a difference and are being felt especially now. The storms continue to approach and threaten but we are so thankful for the firm foundation in Christ that we are standing on.

And the 2rd place fundraising award goes to...

Jesse's Girls! We were extremely happy with the $18,700 we raised as of the morning of the race day. It was truly an amazing day. The worship team from The Pathway led a well-attended pre-race service. Cesar preached a message of hope for the race of life. Many were challenged and a few more accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour! LTNS Accounting and Entrix Sports sponsored 100 of our t-shirts from last year. Between the returnees from last year and the new ones, we still ran out!

Over 140 friends and family joined our team. Five of my dad's family members came out from the west coast to participate in the walk and run. Aunt Beth and Uncle Tony finished the walk first! His brother Lope finished the race in under an hour with no training! Emily's Outwest Basketball team came with their families and one of them even had a bake sale and raised $400 for the team. Many church members from the Bridge and the Pathway were there as well. In addition, there were a few friends of myself and Angela's that came from out of town to participate. Frankie's parents came up from Oregon... I could go on and on with the overwhelming amount of support that we had!

I prayed for a strong June for dad and we got it. It was an eventful month. On June 12th, Emily turned 14 and Christina graduated from the Education Faculty at the U of C. Dad made it out to the ceremony despite the extreme fatigue involved with travelling. The most memorable moment of the ceremony was right after the graduating class was being introduced. The master of ceremonies asked the friends and family to stand in honor of the graduates and all of their hard work. Upon hearing this request, Dad managed to squeeze out the word, "up" to mom. She helped him out of his wheelchair onto his feet. Christina's gaze made its way up to where they were sitting and of course, she melted into tears when she saw this extremely special gesture. We celebrated a wonderful Father's Day. Emily got her learners permit and has chauffered dad a few times! His difficulty communicating didn't stop him from giving his input on her driving. He said she failed "his" standard of driving, in love of course! He has enjoyed riding around the neighborhood with Ethan, the bike with training wheels alongside the wheelchair. Cherished moments!

The summer is flying by and it seems like time is an enemy. It occurred to me that we will never be ready for him to go. There is no opportune time. It is such a comfort to know that God has it all under control. My dad is ready to go home and be healed. His eternal place has been prepared for him by his Lord and Saviour. We continue to be thankful for the past, faithful in the present and hopeful for the future.