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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Letting Go....With the Help of My Friends...

Andrew smiling and saying, "Dad, have a great time!
I am right there with  you as you let go!"
Anxious, but I "let go" and took the leap of faith!
The anxiety immediately gave way to joy and peace!
I landed on solid ground! 
This afternoon, my friend John and I took the plunge literally and went skydiving for the first time.  John and I were scheduled to jump a couple of years ago, but right as we finished orientation, it started raining and we tabled the skydiving until today.  I must tell you, I was quite emotional this morning and I really was trying to grasp the essence of my emotions.  On one hand I was excited, but on the other hand I was a bit melancholy.  I think it had a lot to do with Andrew.  I decided the day before, I would carry some of Andrew's ashes with me and perhaps that is why I felt the way I did.  I know the ashes represent Andrew's earthly body, but I could not help but feel a sense of sadness he wasn't here with me.  But juxtaposed with that feeling, I was happy he could be with me.  His ashes were in a chest pocket on my sweatshirt, covering my heart!  How appropriate!  Right before I jumped, I got this picture in my mind of Andrew smiling his famous grin and encouraging me and by saying, "Dad, have fun!" 

I think the jump represented a point of release or just letting go figuratively and literally.   Since Andrew's death, my life has been a whirlwind of grieving and my life seemed so upside down at points.  I was paralyzed to an extent in my fear about what was the next step in my life.  Fear to the point I didn't want to start my life again in many ways.  Not only was I dealing with the death of Andrew, but I was anxious about my next step as far as an occupation.  I have gone back to school, but I am looking for a job in the teaching field as an assistant and jobs are not easy to find.  I owned and operated a business for 20 years, before I sold it last fall  and that's all I have known since being out of university.  My life since, has been taking care of Andrew full time until his passing.  Skydiving today was a symbolic of how I am trying to let go and let God.  My grieving and anxiety is getting better and the skydiving couldn't have come at a better time.  If you look at the picture of me first jumping out, you notice a very pensive smile.  In fact there is a bar on the top of the door the jump masters use to position themselves called the "Oh Shit" bar, called so aptly for jumpers who may try to back out and hold the bar they are not suppose to hold.  I was tempted to put my hands on the famous bar, but as soon as I was in position with my hands on the harness and feeling pretty helpless, I let go with the help of my instructor and I immediatelyI felt a rush of adrenaline and joy.  I let go!   My "leap of faith" was rewarded.  It reminded me of a verse I whispered in Andrew's ear daily as he lay in the ICU for a month.:

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13

As I mentioned, I exited the plane by the assistance of my instructor, actually it was him pushing me out.  It reminded me how blessed I am to have those type of people who have been pushing me to take a leap of faith as far as my future and just simply spurring me on.  I am grateful for friends like Dan Sung, who has been there to grieve with me, affirm me and even admonish me in love, especially during this incredibly difficult season in my life.  He has pushed me to take the leap of faith and trust in God that He has my back.  Dan has been a total godsend.  We sharpen one another as we go beyond the surface.  We get deep into one another's soul and spur one another on, he has walked side by side with me.  I know all the Christian rhetoric and what it preaches, but I need to be reminded consistently by others of how God has great plans for me in the midst of my trepidations:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jerimiah 29:11

I hope you all have friends like I do who can nudge me and even push me at times to let go.  I am grateful for John Irwin as he took the initiative to call me and reschedule the jump.  Without him, I would have never have gone.  He nudged me to go and I am grateful for people like Mr. Irwin and Dan.  Do you have a Dan or John in your life.  If you don't, I know God has these type of outstanding people ready to walk side by side with you, you just have to take the initiative sometimes.  Ultimately, I hope you can seek God first.   Matthew 7:7 speaks of this truth:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

________________________________________________________________


It's with heavy hearts we walk without Andrew, but we walk in memory of  him.
We love you Drew and we will never forget your legacy of kindness and courage!
We miss you immensely Champ!
As most of you know, Andrew and our friends and family have walked in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's Light the Night Walk to raise money for this great organization which has helped Andrew and our family as Andrew courageously battled to fight cancer. This year we will walk in memory of my wonderful son.  Because of my grief, I have not had the energy to fund raise until recently and boy have I been blessed to have such generous persons help in achieving team Andrew's Army goal!  In less than a week, Andrew's Army has raised more than $6000!  We are close to our goal and I am asking you to consider giving whatever you can in Andrew's honor.  We thank you and so does Andrew.  Here is a link to my fundraising page: PRESS HERE!
For those who want to walk with Andrew's Army, the walk will be held at Berens Park in Elmhurst on October 20, Saturday.  We will start gathering at Berens Park starting at 4:30pm, meeting at a tent set up for us (being one of the top fundraisers in the western suburbs) with Andrew's Army on it and the walk will begin at 6pm.  Here is a link for the park: PRESS HERE.

Please email me if you are going to attend:  josephp101@yahoo.com

I ask you to share the fundraising link to others as some of you have and if you have found any encouragement or benefit from this blog, please share this as well.  

God Bless You All!  Thank you for continually lifting the Park Family in prayer!

Love,
Joe






Monday, October 1, 2012

Up and Down...But Not Out!

Emily's date.  No worries, just friends;-)
But I reminded him what can happen if t
here is any monkey business;-)

Emily's First Homecoming!  I thought I would grow a beard to intimidate any future suitors.
They don't know I have a 357 Magnum hidden in what seems like a middle aged belly.

This weekend was Emily's first homecoming and I was a mix bag of feelings.  On one hand I was so happy for my daughter and the anticipation she had for the dinner, dance and hanging out, but on the other hand, I thought about Andrew and what could have been.  You see, Andrew had never gone to a high school dance for one reason or another.  And I remember him telling me when he was going through chemo this year, how he wanted to go to prom his senior year. Sorry, but I simply wish Andrew was here to so he could have gone to a dance and be a normal teenager.  But it wasn't meant to be.  However I know he is having a dance of the most joyous way in heaven, but even that knowledge doesn't console me.  I know Anna's parents, Sean and Lisa, have felt similar thoughts.  As grieving parents, we can't help but to feel these thought.  We miss our Andrew and Anna, but we are grateful for what he did through the lives of these wonderful children of ours.  Lisa wrote a journal entry the other day as it was Anna's 18th birthday:

So on this beautiful crisp morning, we give thanks to God for our beautiful Anna. We remind ourselves of her thankful, giving heart as she proclaimed God's goodness to all even in the midst of suffering. We will celebrate her life reminded so of her deep laughter and her love of life, friends, and family. We were all blessed because Anna lived. God's purpose was fulfilled in her brief seventeen years. His purpose will continue to be fulfilled in our lives and others. 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I couldn't have said it any better.  My heart is thankful Anna and Andrew are having an eternal dance that will last forever!  We miss you both dearly!
Overall, I have been doing better.  I still cry for Andrew everyday, but it's less intense than before.  I shake my head at times, thinking is he really gone?  It seems like he has been on a long vacation or away at school.  The stages of grieving are not linear and go back in forth.  I really haven't been angry, but anger is a part of normal grieving and I have tried to give myself grace in doing so, as I have felt anger these days.  What does my anger look like?  I ask God why Andrew had to be taken at such a young age?  I have raised a fist or two at the heavens as I try to get it all out.  I know my God is big enough God to handle anything.  Again, everything seems to remind me of him.  At times, I have a hard time looking at his pictures, because of the pain they elicit.  The good news is I have been able to think of great memories of Andrew and not as many painful memories of his fight with cancer and his death.  Since my cousin Robin has been living with us, we have had many laughs (Yep, he is the one who spoke at the Celebration Service) all due to his funny nature.  At those times, we think how Andrew would always be cracking up with a huge boyish smile and laugh.  He loved being around family.  Andrew was the first nephew to be born and he grew up loving his aunts and uncles, having the penchant to laugh at all their stories.  I miss him cracking up where his smile blended into his round cheeks!  I really miss that!  

Jennifer and my close friends would say my demeanor has changed and I am starting to be my goofy fun loving self.  In my health and wellness class at Trinity, each classmate had to give a final presentation on various topics and one of my classmates, Dawna, presented on laughter and the benefits of laughing.  Proverbs 17:22 says:

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

And I  shared some verses sometime ago, but Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4 says:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,

The bible is so right on about laughter and a joyful heart.  These days, I have been able to start laughing at things and it has done wonders for my aching heart.  I am reminded there is a time for everything as Ecclesiastes, a time to mourn and a time to laugh!  I am so grateful to God He can heal a crushed and broken spirit and do it in the most trivial things: things that can make you laugh and heal your heart.  Jennifer often times reminds me Andrew wants me to laugh and enjoy life and that Andrew is rooting me on to do so.  So I will try to.

Please continue to pray for Jennifer, myself, Emily, Bryanna and the family as we grief over the loss of our precious Andrew.  I ask you to pray for me and Jennifer as we will be studying for new vocations.  As most of you know, I am currently going to school to get my teacher's certification and Jennifer has a goal to become a pediatric ICU nurse!  Thank you, we surely appreciate it.

I also have asked you all to consider donating to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's 
Light the Night event, where Andrew's Army has been walking the past three years to raise money to help cancer patients as they fight this insidious cancer and to help find a cure.  I have set a rather lofty goal and I pray you would consider helping out.  And by all means, please share this with friends and family as we do this in honor of all cancer patients who are still with us and who have gone on.  We do this is memory of Andrew.  Thanks! Press Here!

Just in case:  http://pages.lightthenight.org/il/WSuburbn12/JPark

Blessings,

Joe