Today, 5 years ago, my father passed away unexpectedly. The night of my sister’s high school graduation and 1 month before he was supposed to walk me down the aisle. June 2nd is easily one of the worst days of my life, but The Lord provided during this time, 5 years ago, and I finally am getting the courage to share. Looking back at it, the Lord WAS there through it all. He was present during the hardest time of my life and He provided.
Lets start by saying I don’t believe in coincidences, it’s all His work. I have been pondering on all these bittersweet moments from 5 years ago, and I am so blown away by this testimony. I just wish I wrote it down then.
Pre-warning, this is a long post and even if it connects with 1 person, I feel like my gallons of tears writing this today was all worth it. I also need a place to journal this time so in 20 years, I won’t forget the sweet moments the Lord revealed himself to me and in the darkest time, He was there.
Let’s start with camp. Growing up, I never have been to camp nor had a desire to be a camp counselor. When I got to Texas State University in 2012, becoming a camp counselor at Pine Cove was pretty much everyones’ summer plans. I was only at Texas State for a semester, but I knew the Lord placed me there for SO MANY REASONS. I kept trying to decide if I wanted to try to become a camp counselor with my friends for the summer or just go home and enjoy myself. I never had an interview in my life and the thought of one, terrified me. One particular Sunday, we happened to drive up to Austin for church (Austin Stone) which was rare. The Pine Cove booth was there and my friends wanted to stop and talk to them. We chatted for a little and then I thought nothing of it. Keep in mind, the Lord allowed me to be at all of these places, at the right time for a reason – I could have easily been studying or have skipped church. On Wednesday we saw the same guy at Crosstalk (our weekly bible study). All my friends had their applications submitted and interviews already scheduled and I decided not to do it. Immediately I was asked if I had my application turned in and my interview set up and I told him no. He left me no choice and told me I was going to an interview tomorrow. I think I told him no lol but the Lord works in such mysterious ways. I ended up going to the interview, super nervous, had no idea what to say, but just wanted interview experience honestly.
You would never guess what happened the day after the interview. On 11.11.11, Ted proposed to me OUT OF NOWHERE! I’ll probably share our proposal story in November, but just keep in mind, I had no idea. I was hysterically crying and my dad was actually my first phone call. I immediately asked if Ted got my dads and moms permission and so I said yes! I immediately tossed the idea of Pine Cove out the window, again, but the Lord Persisted.
The following week, I got the call that I was accepted, only like 100 of us out of 1,000+ interviews were selected to be a counselor. My quick response was “I just got engaged and am flattered, but I just don’t know when the wedding was going to be, and I didn’t think I could do it.” Pat told me to pray about it. Usually they are hesitant about taking on Brides since they don’t want us to be distracted at camp, but he said he had a feeling I should be there. I prayed, called Ted, called Ted’s sister, my mom, and I think I was just flattered I was chosen and knew after marriage, I would have never had this opportunity, so to everyones surprise I took it. I was just being obedient at the time.
Keeping in mind I now committed to camp and had to plan a wedding, The Lord kept opening the doors for me to come back to Houston and leave Texas State in the Spring (so I was only there in the fall). We also fell in love with Chateau Cocomar and their opening weekend was August 4, 2012, so we took it (last years post here). The Lord just kept opening and closing doors. I had someone take over my rent, got my old high school job back, I can go on and on. The best part, I was able to be home and spend that semester with my dad while planning our wedding. Since I was going to be gone for an entire month and a half with no phone or no communication, my dad and I got a lot done for the wedding that semester.
Fast forward to May 2012, there were so many signs looking back on how the Lord was working. I remember so clearly I was driving and talking to dad about growing old and death. I told him how the thought of death right now is so scary to me and I asked if he was ok with it. I gave him the book Crazy Love and he told me after reading that book, he was ok. That he clearly understood Gods true love and that when the time is right, the time is right. When dad told me he “got it”, when he saw Gods love for him, for us, my heart bursted. The entire month of May we would talk about the Bible and the bible stories he was reading in the Old Testament.
A couple weeks before his death, we had our annual Rock Port fishing trip planned with my sister, dad, and I. I am SO thankful the Lord allowed this sweet time. The photo above was the last photo we took together on the trip. Y’all have no idea how special this trip was for all 3 of us. We almost canceled since I was leaving to camp but I am so glad we made it work. I found his study guide to Crazy Love in his bag and we had the sweetest conversations while fishing. I also remember how excited I was going to marry Ted in a couple months so next year, all four of us could go to Rock Port. Sadly, I can’t get myself to go back, just yet. I remember dad calling me the day we got back from our trip and said he already misses us and wanted to grab coffee. I already had plans but remember thinking how sweet that was. He was feeling lonely and I sometimes do think of how I wish I could have had that one last coffee date with my daddy…
Five days before June 2nd, it was time to go to camp. I REALLY did not want to go. I remember driving up to camp on the phone with Ted telling him if they called me to be a cook, or any other job besides a camp counselor, I would have easily said no. I was stumped at why the Lord wanted me there, but shortly I would find out why. I was so nervous, going to miss my sisters high school graduation, none of my friends ended up being a counselor, and my wedding was only a month away.
And then, it happened. 7 days into camp, my dad passed away. It was opening day and all of a sudden I got paged that I needed to go to the front office. Stumped, I saw Ted and Pat standing there, they told me my dad “was in the hospital” and I needed to go home. I may have blacked out during this time. It was such a blur. Once I got in the car, I bursted into tears reading Teds face that my dad is no longer with us. We cried and prayed together the entire 2 hour drive home. My dad use to call us EVERY morning so when Katy didn’t get a call from him that morning, she knew something was wrong. To make things even more evident that this was not a coincidence, my dad was born in La Grange (small, small town in Texas) right next to camp, and I happened to be there the night he passed, doing my laundry. I think I only have been to La Grange a handful of times.
Looking back, I can’t believe I went home for only 5 days then felt the need to go back to camp. Y’all, I WAS CRAZY, but was still being obedient. I felt like I needed to be with community at the time, and even though going through death is hard, sitting at home and sulking would have made it worse for me. So, crazy enough, I went back to camp. They put me in the kitchen as a cook for 2 weeks and I couldn’t help but LAUGH at God since I remember so clearly the statement if I was a “cook” I would not have came. I then got to be a counselor to some kinder babies, some middle school girls, and high schoolers (I was terrified of them). I do remember the Lords overwhelming strength with me during my entire time at camp. I was mourning and trying to lead girls to discover Christ’s TRUE LOVE. The Lord was good. I needed to be at camp, I needed community to pray for me and walk with me through the hardest time in my life.
Coming home was WEIRD. I felt like I was living a bad dream that I needed to wake up from. I had one month home before I would get married and move in with Ted. I decided to walk down the aisle alone and this was probably the hardest but the Lord also provided strength during this moment. Months later, I became a wedding planner at Chateau Cocomar and yall, I would BAWL at every father and daughter dance. I still can’t help but get up and run to the bathroom in tears every time I am at a wedding during the dance. Keep in mind, being a wedding coordinator, I have been to a 100+ weddings. But even though I may not have had that moment with my dad, I am so thankful to have a ton of other beautiful moments with him. And I thank God for that every day.
I can keep going and mention all the times the Lord was there during this time, but this probably is longer than any paper I wrote in college so I will leave you with the verse below. If you are going through ANYTHING hard, hard at all, hold onto the Truth. Ted and I have held onto this verse for many many years and still is our favorite. Only 16 months later, Teds uncle, who was like his second dad and our Best Man at our wedding, also passed away. Dad and Khalo Sami also had the same birthday. We both always talk about how sweet it would be if they were still here today.
Death is hard, but life with Christ means it’s not the end. I write this to encourage those that are dealing with death of a loved one. I know we can get wrapped up in the pain of it all, but just like my story with my dad, remember to trust the Lord to comfort you with the wonderful memories you have with them.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.