Countdown to Dead Dad Day

My Dad died on June 16, 2005. It was suicide. A single gunshot wound to the head. He used to tell us girls (Mom, Jenni & me), if an intruder got into the house and he wasn't home to protect us, that we should shoot. His fatherly & authoritative advice was to shoot, "One in the head or two in the heart." 
So when Dad ended his own life with one in the head, it was also two in the in my heart and one in my sister's heart. And as for my Mom, it just took out her whole being because he was her beloved. 

God has been faithful, loving, grace-giving and mercy-spilling and we're all still healing. I don't think you're ever healed. Like it's done. We're still walking through life without our Dad, our Dragon Slayer, protector, defender, provider - and because of the hope that we have in Jesus that we will be swept up in Dad's strong arms as he bear-hugs us again in Heaven one day. But even with all that hope before me, I still dread the month of June. An internal countdown begins for me. 

I hate June. I really do hate it. We're walking through the valley of the shadow of death and the month of June makes me feel it. I cry at every song on the radio. I cry at the grocery store. If you see me with tear-stained cheeks at the grocery store, I'll make a joke about the price of organic milk being so high that it brought me to tears...I'll say, "no sense crying over spilled milk. Unless it's organic, then cry cuz that stuff's laced with gold!" But the truth is, it could be that I just walked past Dad's favorite snack and it brought back a memory that punched me in the gut. And if I hear the old song "Dream On" by Aerosmith, I seriously could lose control of my car due to weeping and gnashing of teeth. That song was so my Dad. Such a drifter and a dreamer. And it makes me long to hear his voice, smell his cologne and be wrapped up in such a big hug that I think all my bones may crush under the pressure of the love pouring through his strong arms. 

It's the countdown to the day we remember WHO we lost. God sets eternity in the hearts of men - see, we were created for eternity, not for death. So death feels so foreign. And death by suicide feels like a terrorist coming in...everyone asking "Why?" And never getting answers. 

We're 10 days away from Dead Dad Day - yes, that's what we call the anniversary of Dad's death. And I'm inviting you to walk through it with us. And to pray for us over the next 10 days. Satan is a big fat jerk, and he knows that this is a tough time for us, so he throws things at us to try and take us down for good. Please pray for us as you read. 

I'm going to do my best to write my "Top TEN Suicide" List. It's the top 10 things people think, assume, say, do, don't do, etc. I'll give you one a day. 


Suicide Survivor's Top Ten Things To Do (or NOT Do):

It feels weird. It seems irreverent, but done well, it's really a special gift for the family. You forget what you wore, what you looked like. You forget who was around you. I'm not implying taking inappropriate coffin pictures. No. I'm saying, take pictures of the guest book as people sign it. Take pictures of people hugging and grieving together. You stand in the back of the room with a good camera and a good lense, and you shoot quietly. It will be a gift you give the family that they will appreciate and hold those photo memories forever. You will think that every detail will be forever burned into your memory, but it won't. Grief has a way of making you forget. So instead of relying only on your memory, capture it on film. But always be respectful of the family and their wishes. If they say "no cameras" then no cameras. Your heart has to be bent toward uplifting, encouraging and helping the grieving people. So it's ok to ask them, "what would you like pictures of?" Be their friend, not their professional photographer. 

Dad died 7 weeks after Brad & I got married in Las Vegas. 
These pics of Dad from our wedding are the last pics taken of him. 

Jerry and "Miss Linda"

We were listening to Dad give a toast to us at our wedding reception. 
Very sweet. He said "Juice couldn't have chosen better."

Mom & Dad 

Mom & Dad being silly at the Wynne Casino

Having fun in Vegas!

No matter where you're at or what your going through...
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Jessica Phillips

Jessica is worshiper and follower of Jesus. He rescued her heart at age 6 but he rescued her calling, purpose and direction in her early 20's. Everyday God is still writing Jessica's story. It involves her husband, Brad, her daughter, Emery, their extended families. But the story is a tale of loss of life and dark grief. And the story ebs and weaves and the grief story is followed by weddings and laughter. And what comes next? A Baby! God sends us a baby to shape and teach and grow right in the midst of our loss and realizing that life actually moves forward. We didn't think it would again after he died. But life just did what it was supposed to do...and it went on. And hope is born again. Everything I write is based on this fact: I'm God's child, I'm alive today. So what do You want me to do for You? Because I want my contribution to matter. I want to leave a legacy.