death · Family life

Finally Home

I was a daddy’s girl. In my elementary school days I was a bit of a tomboy, mostly because I wanted to do what my dad did. I would spend time in the yard with him. I loved playing ball with him. I would tag along when he went to the barber shop. In my teen years he was mainly the one that taught me to drive. After I got my license he offered me the newer, sportier car to drive to school IF I would learn to drive a standard transmission. He patiently endured my jerky stops and lunges when I popped the clutch! We played tennis together and took walks in the snow on our country road. I loved to hear him try to tell a joke. He would cry so hard tears would stream down his cheeks. He had a quiet, gentle spirit, reminiscent of Matthew on Anne of Green Gables. He was a servant, always putting others before himself.

He loved Gospel music, ice cream, and hard work. He was seldom still, always working on a project or task around the house. He also adored my mom all their nearly 68 years of marriage. The open demonstration of their love with words and affection was a normal thing. What a security that gave me as I was growing up!

My dad took me to Jesus. He led our family by taking us to church faithfully. It wasn’t a legalistic demand, but a relationship with the God He loved and the Christ Who was his Savior. The first time I remember hearing the Gospel at church, my dad was by my side. His life was consistent. What he said on Sunday was how he lived on Monday. He always encouraged any decision I made to step out and walk with the Lord and do His will. One day this past year we were sitting at their bar counter and he told me how proud he was of my life of walking with the Lord. This was another gift from the Lord worth more than any THING that he could have given me!

He got very sick in October and then had a fall in November. In December he turned 90 while in the nursing home. He was able to eat cake with us, but most of those months he struggled with pain, dementia. breathing and heart issues. Sometimes he knew us; other times he did not. He struggled to eat, talk and hear. But while he was in that place, his gentle, Christlike spirit was evident. We saw it as we had all the prior years. The nursing staff witnessed it and mentioned it to us. The Christ in Him continued to be seen.

Last week the Lord nudged my heart that it was the time I needed to go help my parents and spend time with my dad. He had moments of recognizing me, saying, “Hey gal, did you just get in?” That was after I’d been there two days, but that was a special gift to hear him speak. All of his daughters were “his gals.” The morning I was scheduled to go home, I felt a tug from the Lord to go visit him one more time before I hit the road. We had a precious visit. He drank a whole cup of coffee I brought him and half of a Strawberry muffin.. I was at his bedside when two aids came in to turn him. They witnessed him take my hand and kiss the back of it. “Oh, he’s so sweet!” one of them commented, he’s even done that to me! Too cute.

Before I left I went to his “good ear” and said what he would say to me in the last year;

If I don’t see you again here, I’ll see you on the other side.

Little did I know that this would indeed be my last time to see him here on this earth. Saturday afternoon, he began struggling to breathe. My mom and sister had just left to go eat lunch. The nurse called to let them know it appeared he was actively dying. She went to get him meds to help him and when she came back in, he gasped, grabbed her hand, smiled and took his last breath here and his next breath in heaven. How do I know that? The Scripture says, Absent from the body, present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

My dad is heaven, and finally home as I write this. I wonder what he is enjoying at this moment. It isn’t ice cream or baseball; it’s something far more glorious because he is in the presence of Christ! His faith is now sight – it’s before his very eyes! I wonder about the praise around the Throne of God and the worship that is glorious. I imagine the reunions of loved ones who also knew Christ and were found in Him at the end of their life – his parents, siblings, friends and even our daughter, Ashely. I wonder, and I feel that tug towards heaven in my heart. It continues to grow sweeter and sweeter.

Oh, how I will miss my dad; his smile, his words of constant encouragement, his inquiries about my family and projects I’m working on. But I’m so thankful he’s not suffering. I’m thankful he is whole. I’m thankful he is with Jesus. I’m thankful that our separation is only temporary. I will see him again.

I share this with you today, to honor my dad, James Ray. I share it to continue the legacy of his walk and relationship with Christ. I share it to ask you, Do you know (not hope) that you will go to heaven to be with God when your life is ended? You can go to this page to read how you can have an assurance of eternal life when you die, and also enjoy that life with Christ today!

Thank you in advance for your prayers for our family as we have his funeral this week and as my sweet mom navigates this new phase of her life without him at her side. I know God will use my own sorrow to conform me more to the image of His Son. My good Father blessed my life with an earthly father who pointed me to Christ in his life, and also in his death. What a rich woman I am. My dad is finally home.

Sorrowing with a solid hope,

28 thoughts on “Finally Home

  1. GOD IS awesome HE give you a wounderful father ,and some day we will see him again thank you for sharing i love you Denise .


  2. I am saddened by your loss of such an amazing dad you had. But I am rejoicing with you that he is home with his Savior. Praying for your sweet momma who will miss him greatly. And praying for you, your sister and family as well. So thankful for the hope we have that we will be with our loved ones again very soon. I believe it won’t be long for Christ’s return.


    1. Thank you for these sweet reminders of the truth of eternity! We miss him so much, but we are comforted with the truth of God’s Word of all He is enjoying with the Lord! Ps. 16:11 – In thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.


    1. I love thinking about my dad’s gain of heaven. How amazing to see Christ face to face and to worship at the Throne of God! Our hearts miss him greatly, but we know our separation is only temporary. Thank you for your prayers for us!


  3. This is a beautiful tribute, and I had tears in my eyes. Your family is in my prayers. What a blessing it is to have a wonderful earthly father.


  4. Praying for you, Whitney and the rest of your precious family. I read both your blogs and I know from reading all this time how special this man was. My father went to be with the Lord when I was only 10, but even at that age I had peace because I knew he was finally healed and with Jesus, just as your father is now whole and complete in our Lord.


    1. Samantha, I’m sorry you lost your father so early, but what a sweet testimony you have regarding his eternity with Christ. I love imagining what my dad could be enjoying at the Throne of God at this moment! It won’t be long and we’ll be gathered there together! Thank you for your prayers for us; we are so grateful.


    1. Lori, I’m sorry that you do understand this pain of losing a father. You lost your dad very early while I had my dad for almost 65 years, which is remarkable! Won’t our reunions with our dads in heaven be amazing?! Oh eternity!!


  5. I am sorry for your loss, Denise. You were very blessed with this remarkable man you called Daddy. I always loved your posts when you went to their home and visited them. They were a special couple for sure.


  6. I am sorry for your loss, Denise. You were blessed to call this remarkable man Daddy. I loved the posts from the past when you shared your visits with your parents in their home.


    1. Thank you. I am indeed so blessed to have had a father who made it easy to trust my Heavenly Father. I’m grateful for so many precious memories of my visits with them. I’m glad I could “take my readers along!”


  7. What a lovely tribute! I am continuing to pray for you and your family, and I’m again thanking God for the Hope we have in Christ. It is very true that we don’t grieve as those with no hope. Our grief is temporary. May God continue to comfort and bless you all.


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