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Farther Along

This coming Monday it will have been 3 years since my dad passed away. It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years, mostly because so much has changed in my own life in that time. Heather and I had our 5th child, we moved from Kansas to Minnesota, I went from being a youth minister to a worship and family minister. All of these changes were big and amazing, which makes it hard when I think that my dad wasn't here to be apart of them. In the midst of all those changes there were countless times I wished I could pick up the phone and talk to dad not only to tell him the news, but to ask him for advice. I was prompted to write this because I heard a song on Spotify this morning that I first heard not long before my dad passed away. This song hurt when I first heard it, but the more I listened it hurt less and actually started to heal. Give it a listen if you’ve never heard it before.

When I first found out that my dad had cancer and it was so far advanced that he didn’t have long to live I was filled with an intense anger that I had never really experienced previously. My list of people/things I was angry with included but wasn’t limited to: my dad for not ever going to the doctor, God, myself, that I couldn’t just leave and spend every last second with him before he passed, why something so cruel and unfair could happen to such a good and Godly man. When I first heard the song, “Farther Along” by Josh Garrels, it fueled and justified my anger. My anger never completely went away, but over time, it has weakened and has been directed more appropriately. This song was hard for me to listen to; it’s still hard now but for different reasons.

Tempted and tried, I wondered why 
The good man died, the bad man thrives 
And Jesus cries because he loves em’ both 
We’re all cast-aways in need of ropes 
Hangin’ on by the last threads of our hope 
In a house of mirrors full of smoke 
Confusing illusions I’ve seen

Here is a past reflection I wrote this past November.

Today, my dad would have had his 62nd birthday. He left this world about 10 months before he turned 60. His last two birthdays have come and gone and weren’t unlike any other typical day for me…until today. In the past I think the main reason was because I have purposely tried to not get emotional. Another possibly reason is because the life of a husband/father of five six years and young/minister can be pretty hectic. Today I made a conscious decision to remember my dad, especially the memories he and I shared together.

One of my earliest memories with dad are when he would let me go out to breakfast with him. I honestly can’t remember very many times when he didn’t eat breakfast in some hole in the wall diner. Most of the time I got excited when dad would ask me, or tell me, I was allowed to go with him to eat breakfast, except for a couple years when I became a teenager. I didn’t want to admit that I was excited, but I always enjoyed our time together. While my dad didn’t have just one place that he always ate at he did almost always order the same food: oatmeal and toast. No matter what diner my dad ate at he new everyone’s name that worked there.

I’m thankful for the beautiful moments, like the ones above, that life gives to us. As a father of 5 amazing children I try to do my best to slow down and live in the beautiful moments that happen every day with my family.

So much more to life than we’ve been told 
It’s full of beauty that will unfold 
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son 
That deadweight burden weighs a ton 
Go down into the river and let it run 
And wash away all the things you’ve done 
Forgiveness alright
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