The Kissing Hand.

Have you ever read or seen the children’s book called The Kissing Hand? It really is such a sweet, touching little book.

In a nutshell, the book is about a baby raccoon that is getting ready to start school and is somewhat nervous about it. Separation anxiety in a time of transition. So, the mommy raccoon gives him a pep talk. She tells him about this “kissing hand” which helps him to  feel better about going off to school alone, without her. She kisses the inside of his little paw and tells him that whenever he feels sad or misses her, he could open his hand and put it on his cheek and get a kiss from his mommy and know that she’s always there with him. The kiss would never wash off and would always be there. Wherever he goes, her love is right there with him.

At the end of the book there is a page of heart kissing hand stickers. When we read this book to our girls, we always kiss their hands and then let them put one of the stickers on their hands. Well, the other day I was cleaning up the girls room and I saw this pic that has been on their dresser for the past several months, but noticed something different about it and my heart just melted. I asked the girls who put the sticker there with tears in my eyes and Addi said, “I did! Because I love Poppy.” There are no words to describe how significant and genuinely sweet this is.

Wherever we go, whenever we feel sad – we think of his love and know that he is with us in our hearts.

Quotes from a wise man.

My Dad was a very wise man. He was a thinker. When asked for advice, he would give it careful consideration before offering up his opinion. He exhibited James 1:19 very well – “quick to listen, slow to speak.”

Below are a few quotes I remember him saying often and will always stick with me. Some are comical, but that was Dad. Such simple truth in what he had to say, but such wisdom. I will hold on to these words along with all of the great memories.

If anyone else remembers anything that they heard my Dad say often that impacted them in some way, I would LOVE for you to comment me and share please!

“When you do stupid things, stupid things happen.”

“Always leave a place better than the way you found it.”

“When you don’t know what to do next, do the next right thing.”

“That’s so ugly, it’s kinda cute.”

“Beautiful things for the people that I love.”

“Make a decision and don’t look back.”

“Keep on keepin’ on.”

“Life’s too short to get your feelings hurt.”

A very special weekend.

This past weekend’s trip up north was awesome. From laughing hysterically to sharing memories to finishing 13.1 in honor of Dad to shedding tears together – it was a fabulous and very special time. The healing continues.

Ryan summarizes it so well, I figured I’d just send you over to his blog to read about it here.

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and for those who sent us encouraging texts, emails, and FB messages! I’ll leave you all with some pics.

Tomorrow we fly to Boston.

Tomorrow morning, we are getting up early to take the girls to Grandma’s and then Ryan and I will head to DFW to hop on a plane to Boston! This upcoming weekend is one that is sure to be special. A memory maker.

We are going to Manchester, NH to run in a half marathon. But not just any half marathon. My Dad was registered to run in this race…the last race he had registered for and one none of us could have ever imagined that he wouldn’t be here to run in. He & my sister did this race last year and both had registered to do it again. Here’s a pic of them last year that I absolutely love. It captures so much.

So we are all headed North to run it in his honor. In fact, my brother Kelly is going to pick up my Dad’s bib at the expo and run as Kip Clark. Knowing my Dad – he would love this and think its neat.

My Aunt Debbie (Dad’s sister) and her family live there and we will get to stay with them for the weekend. I look forward to spending time with them. My Dad loved visiting Boston and New Hampshire – he along with my sister Jen have told me all about it there and I can’t wait to see the sites and experience it for myself.

Its going to be a special weekend and one of celebration of my Dad’s life. I will post pics and details about the weekend and race day soon. But, in the mean time, we certainly appreciate your prayers…for my siblings, Ryan, and myself as we travel and as we run – no doubt, it will be the most emotional race we’ve done.

A recent conversation…

Addi, “Mommy, I want Grandma to pick me up from school one day, so she can see my new school.”

Kamryn, “Yeah and I want Poppy to pick me up so he can see my new school too.”

Addi, “Poppy can’t pick you up because he’s going to be in heaven for 100 years. Right mom, 100 years?”

Me, “He’ll be in heaven forever baby, but one day we’ll see him again when we go there.”

Addi, “I don’t want to heaven, I want to stay with Daddy!”

Me, “Oh, heaven is awesome, there’s nothing to be scared of there. It’s perfect! And we can all be there together with Poppy.”

Kamryn, “Well, I do. I want to go there. Mommy, I can hold your hand and we can fly to the sky to Jesus.”

Addi, “Maybe Daddy, Mommy, Kamryn, and Addi can all get in our car and have wings on it and fly there together.”

I love that my girls still talk about Poppy and they miss him so. He was a big part of their little, innocent lives. Addi recently had a bag of jelly beans and picked out all the black ones for Poppy, like she used to. He was the only one that liked licorice. She gets very sad when she talks about him and even tears up sometimes. They obviously don’t understand the whole concept of heaven and death at this young age, but they have surprisingly understood more than what I thought they would. So sweet and tender-hearted. I love my precious babies!

Happy birthday, Jeff!

My little brother Jeff has always been the hugest Rangers fan. I mean, he is serious about it. He watches every single game and if he can’t for some reason (work, school, etc), he records it and watches it later. Talk about dedication, do you know how long baseball games are?! When we would go to my parent’s house, Mom, Dad and Jeff would always seem to be watching the Rangers and usually all be wearing some kind of Rangers paraphernalia. It was cute.

My Dad took Jeff to a lot of games in Arlington – memory makers, as he called them. They would go early for hitting practice and stay through to the end, even if it was very late. And even when Dad had to work the next day. He even took the family a couple of times. Such fun! My Dad loved baseball & the Rangers.  This passion for baseball was a big thing that he & Jeff shared – it was “their” time together. Jeff also played baseball throughout High School and my parents loved being involved, going to his games to cheer him on.

I can’t tell you how special it is for the Rangers to make it to the World Series FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER the same year that my Dad passed away. Also, just so happened to be the same weekend as Jeff’s 20th birthday. What a birthday present! When the 9th inning came to an end and the fireworks started at the Ballpark in Arlington, tears were flowing all around. This is more than just about baseball for my family, it is more of a huge celebration of years of cheering them on together and all the wonderful memories that were made…especially for Jeff. I love you Jeff & am so proud of the man you have become! And of course, you know Dad is too.

en-cour-age


I’m feeling good. Not too hot, gentle breeze, endorphins pumping…it’s race day. My iPod is filled with a wide array of awesome tunes courtesy of my husband working on the “ultimate running mix” for hours the night before. I had an awesome pasta dinner and a great night’s sleep. I was sporting my Garmin watch, my favorite shorts, my Saucony’s, and my Dad’s yellow “Livestrong” bracelet that he wore at races (see below). Things are looking good for these 13.1 miles I was about to log. I was ready.

As I made my way along the course of the Tyler Rose Half, I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Go Traci!” a few times and see some familiar faces along the side of the roads waving and cheering us on. At about mile 8, a point where my legs usually start feeling tired, there were two cute little girls standing outside of their house on the curb giving out high fives to those who ran by, so I gladly took them up on their offer. They looked to be about my girls’ age, and I needed that sweet encouragement at the time! It’s amazing how much of an impact the smiles and cheers from the spectators makes on runners. It’s most definitely appreciated! Then, as I turned the final corner downtown and headed towards the finish line, I see my cute husband standing there smiling at me. I love, love, love this part of the run. Knowing he’s there waiting for me always pushes me to finish strong! Of course, I ended the run with a huge high five to the sky – my Dad’s life will always be an encouragement to me.

Ever since this race, I’ve been pondering on the word, encouragement. It’s so simple really. Webster defines encourage as follows:

The spectators along the course were an encouragement to me that day. My race was definitely made better because of them! My family and friends are an encouragement to me every day. I feel truly blessed to have people in my life who spur me on. They inspire me with courage and for that, I am so grateful.

On the course of life, it’s made so much easier & definitely more motivating to continue on when you have people like that around you. People who will cheer you on when you are down. People who will attempt to persuade you to stay on course. People who will walk beside you to help give you hope. Jesus was the ultimate example of this. We should strive to encourage those around us daily, we are a team after all. And there are so many ways you can do this! I genuinely hope that you have people that surround you that provide this source of strength for you! Again, it’s so very simple – but so very important.

I’ve set a goal, starting this week, to do something intentional to encourage someone else at least once each day. Whether it be my husband, my children, a friend, or a stranger. Because you just never know who might be ready to give up, and just a simple smile and a wave might be just the encouragement they need to keep going. Will you join me in this?

Another first.

September 30th. Today is my Dad’s birthday, his first one in heaven. He would have been 63 today. Just 63. Hard day. Two years ago on this day, I posted this blog for him on his birthday. I miss him today. And I will miss him tomorrow. Trying to focus on all of the many good memories and how blessed we were to have him. I love you Dad & knowing that everyday is a celebration where you are, does make me smile.

Tears in my pillow.

As my head hit the pillow last night, I thought about my Dad and how much I miss him. Every single night, as I’m going to sleep, I think of him. Sadness overcomes me – yet again – but usually I can tell myself…you will see him again, he’s so happy right now, he loves you, you were blessed to have him, make him proud with the life you have left and then, I fall fast asleep in that peace.

Last night was one of those nights where it wasn’t that easy. Not that it’s ever easy really, but telling myself those things wasn’t helping. Not at all. I thought about my parents anniversary coming up next week, then Dad’s birthday the week after. I was thinking about how Addi still struggles with missing Poppy, like the rest of us, and even cries for him on occasion. Her heart is broken about it and I hate that…but I love how much she obviously loved him and still thinks of him. I was thinking back on the last time I hugged him the Monday before that Friday happened- in the front yard, after we had sat on the porch steps just talking. I yearned to hug him again. I thought how badly I could use his advice on things right now and how I’ll miss his advice…he was so wise. I was asking why all over again. I was comparing him and his health to others and thinking, its just not fair. My heart hurt and I couldn’t breathe, and I certainly couldn’t fall asleep. I snuggled up next to Ryan, cried into my pillow for a long while and eventually drifted off.

Several months have passed and it still hurts, and I’m certain always will to some extent. But I will continue to try oh so hard to focus on the fact that I will see him again, he’s the happiest he’s ever been, no doubt he loves me and is proud of me, and I want to do whatever I can to honor him and, even more importantly, my heavenly Father with the rest of my days here.

Fall-tastic

As I ran at the trails this past Sunday morning, I noticed that a few leaves had already fallen off the trees. It made me smile…Fall is just around the corner people and I can not wait! I heart Fall. I do believe its my favorite time of year. The smells, the colors, the temperatures, the holidays, football, food, races…I love it all! The changing of the seasons always reminds me of how big God is – and how extremely creative He is. The ultimate artist, for sure!

We have a lot of stuff going on this upcoming season. Good stuff. The Dixon iCal is getting filled up! The next few months emotionally will be tough for my family – with Dad’s birthday coming up, my parent’s anniversary, the holidays without him, and running without him in races we’ve all done together in the past. Everything that is a “first without him” is tough. Definitely will be a hard season, as it has been a hard year. Incredibly grateful to have so many wonderful memories with him. And I am thankful we have some good stuff going on – and things to look forward to. Dad would want us to make the most of this beautiful season (he loved Fall too) and live life to the fullest – so I will try to do just that!

Some things coming up that I’m excited about are…

1. Going to Lubbock Labor Weekend to see old friends (leaving tomorrow actually – yay)

2. Joining a new downtown Women’s Bible study group

3. Attending a friends wedding in Dallas – a night away for me & Ryan!

4. Celebrating both of my brother’s, my sister’s, Ryan’s, and Kam’s birthdays

5. Running in 3 half marathons in 3 consecutive months & the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day

6. Ryan’s brother Ross coming to Texas and our camping trip to Beaver’s Bend

7. Trip to Boston & New Hampshire

8. Thanksgiving & Christmas

9. CRUISE

10. Several baby showers for dear friends

The Uphill Battle

Yesterday, I went out for my long run for the week. I was actually really looking forward to this run. Sometimes you dread it, sometimes you are pumped up. This particular morning, I was pumped & ready to attack the 8 miles ahead of me. I woke up before my alarm clock (rare), threw on my running clothes, pulled my hair back, grabbed a bottle of water and headed out while my husband and kids were snuggly and sleeping away in bed. I walked up the road, stretched, took a sip of water, hit play on the ipod, start on my garmin and took off.

Nice and slow, I had determined I was going to enjoy this run. And I did. There are hardly any cars on the road at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. Very peaceful. I did pass an occasional person walking their dog or other runners here and there. Tyler really is a beautiful place. I love running here. There was a slight breeze and it really wasn’t unbearably hot yet. Great run.

It wasn’t hard until the very end – when I got to the big…no, make that the HUGE hill. We like to name hills on our running routes. Usually if someone we know lives near the hill, we dub it with that person’s name. In Quitman, there is Wilson Hill and Cates Mountain. Here in Tyler, we have Death Mountain- 1/4 mile uphill by a cemetery. Well, Death Mountain was in the last stretch of my 8 miler. And it inspired this blog post.

As I approached this hill (or what really feels like a mountain after 7 1/2 miles), I took a few deep breaths before I started uphill. I focused my eyes, leaned my body forward and went for it. I have found that if I keep looking up ahead, I see how far I still have to go uphill and it discourages me. However, if I focus on a just few feet ahead of me the whole time, before I know it, I’ve made it all the way. The hills tend to slow my pace down some, but that’s OK. After I get up to the top, I regulate my breathing again, take a drink and finish out the run strong…all the while thinking, I just killed that mountain! And I’m going to be stronger because of it.

Isn’t this how life is really? We have mountains to climb and they are absolutely tiring, and hard to get over. Life is hard. There are many ups and downs, no doubt.  The older I get, the more I realize this. But the good news for us is that God promises to never give us anything we can’t bear…and He gives us the strength to get uphill. We don’t have to go at it alone. If we stay focused on Him and not look at how far we have left to climb, we will be over the hill before we know it. He is using the mountains to mold us and grow us…making us better runners in this race of life.

I have experienced many hills in life. But the death of my Dad has been the hugest mountain by far for my family and I. One that we are still climbing and stumbling on. It’s hard, I’m not gonna lie. There are times we are out of breath, don’t know how to go on, and want to quit. But through prayers, encouragement, and love, we press on. And I know, because we press on and press into God, we will be stronger because of it.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13

He’s part of that great cloud.

Several of my friends have told me recently that they think of my Dad often while they are out running & it encourages them and motivates them. I know that me, Ryan, my sister & brother don’t take one stride without thinking of him. Lauren, Jessica, Katie – Dad would tell you to run on and to keep on keepin’ on!

I continue to be so proud of him and the impact he has made & continues to make on the lives of people all over the place. As I was thinking about this tonight, this verse came to my mind…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1

How neat to think that my Dad – Kip Clark – is now part of that GREAT cloud of witnesses. Wow. He’s cheering us on as we run this race called life. I have to run with perseverance!  I miss him like crazy, but I know he’ll be waiting for me at the finish line with a huge smile on his face and the biggest high five ever.

If we ever get the chance…

On Thursday morning June 3rd, the day before he passed, I received an email from my Dad. He used to send early morning emails a lot to his kids. I think he liked to start our days with a note of encouragement, to tell us he loved us, or just to simply say how proud he was of us. These emails always made me smile. Little did I know when I read it that particular day, it would be the last one I would ever receive from him. The last words from my Dad to me. Ever. I have not deleted this from my inbox & I doubt I ever will.

Here are the last lines from that email…

If we ever get the chance to do the train ride to Dallas thing – it is great!  I am pretty sure your girls would be bored to death with the 6th Floor Museum though, so something else would have to be done to entertain them for the 4 hours in downtown.  You and Ryan would love the trip, the museum.  Of course, you would need me to go so you would have a tour guide.  :) Have a great Thursday.  I love you much.”

This email is a constant reminder to me that we have no clue what tomorrow may bring, so we have to make the most of each & every day!

The "Anger" Phase.

I’m mad. There, I said it.

I guess over the past week, I have officially stepped into the anger phase of grief. I have to say, I don’t like this phase one bit. In fact, I hate it. The angry phase itself makes me angry. Denial is much easier. And I’m the type that cries when I get mad, so I’ve cried more this week than I have in a while. Its exhausting.

What am I mad at? Well, the grief books will tell you that typically people are angry at God or at the deceased. I am not mad at anyone – just mad at everything…not at Dad or at God, I guess just more at the circumstance. I am mad that Dad is considered “the deceased.”

What started these feelings? On our way back home from vacation last Sunday, I began to think about Addi’s 4th birthday coming up next month. Which led me to think about the fact that Poppy won’t be there. Then, I started thinking about all of the happenings that take place over the Fall/Winter timeframe that he wouldn’t be at…his 10 mile birthday run, all of my siblings birthdays, Thanksgiving, the Turkey Trot, White Rock Half, Christmas, football season, etc. Thinking about this as we drove down the road made me burst into tears and then…anger arrived. He physically won’t be at anything ever again. Ugh. It just all feels very unfair and very unbalanced.

Why am I telling you this? The grief books also say that you shouldn’t suppress your anger, because it could be worse in the long run if you do. Hence the reason I’m blogging about it now & telling friends about it.  For one – I don’t want anyone to ever think I’m being rude or cranky or short. Second, I am trying to be open and honest about this, like I strive hard to do in everything, because I don’t do fake. I am truly thankful for friends that allow me to be transparent and continue to love me.

Gosh, I just realized how selfish this post sounds. Looking back I see there are a ton of “I’s”. There are so many people grieving my Dad, not just ME. See, even this post makes me mad. But, let me go ahead and continue to be selfish and ask you….please pray for me right now. I don’t like to be angry.

Really? Wow.

I had my first dream (that I remember) about my Dad last night since he passed away. Passed away…gosh, its still so weird to say that. Anyways, so here’s how it went…

We were in an empty classroom at a school. Maybe I was a teacher? I was standing near a desk and Dad walked in and said he was here for a short while…like a “lunch break” or something. I, of course, hugged him forever and was completely filled with joy. Tears were flowing nonstop. Definitely a different cry than the cries over the past six weeks. So we started to talk and catch up. Weird because he didn’t really talk much – it was as though he really couldn’t speak, but was so eager to listen to me. He spoke mostly with his eyes, which had a very obvious sparkle in them. I filled him in on everything he’s missed since he’s been gone…stuff I knew he’d want to know and love to hear about. I told him all about his funeral service. About all the comments on his Facebook page and how people still post to it almost daily. How people have sent letters from all over expressing how he had impacted their lives. After each new thing I would tell him, he would have this amazed look on his face and just simply say, “Really? Wow.” I told him specific things…like how our dear friend Gena texted me just yesterday morning to tell me she had ran/walked 3 miles because she has decided to train for a half marathon and get a shirt printed with Dad’s name on the front for the race in January. I told him how Kamryn calls “Hoppy” on her pink play phone. I told him about Addi crying one night because she missed him and was sad. He teared up when I told him about that. I was just going on and on…and then I woke up. Unfortunately. It was way too soon, I was so not ready for it to be over. But I guess I’ll always feel that way about this whole deal. It was neat to see his expressions…he looked very satisfied and genuinely happy. The twinkle in his eye made me smile.

It was a good dream.

How are you doing?

How are you doing? This is the question I get a lot recently & honestly don’t know how to answer most days. The grieving process is very strange. I don’t know exactly how I’m supposed to feel really. Some days I cry a lot, some days I feel as though I can’t squeeze out one single tear. Some days, I somehow am able to push the thought out of my mind for short periods of time to fully focus on work, my girls, my husband, etc. Other days, I can’t focus on anything but the fact that he’s gone. Running has become more of a necessity than just a fun hobby. I yearn to go out for a run. It helps me to release the tension and anxiety I feel…however, I hardly can run without crying because my heart hurts continuously. Ending each run with a high five to the sky, I know there will never be a run that I don’t think about my Dad. Some days, I feel as though my sadness has turned into motivation – motivation to make the most of the day, be a good parent, and strive to be a difference maker. Other days, I feel like I’m drowning in my sadness and can hardly breathe. Strange, this whole death thing.

Today has actually been a decent day. I haven’t cried, until now at least, and I got a lot accomplished. I felt OK today. Got a lot done at work, enjoyed seeing my sister play with the new toys she bought the girls, had a nice dinner provided by good friends. Now, as I sit here and type my thoughts, I’m thinking tons about my Dad. Memories flood my mind. Thankful that I have over 10,000 photos (literally) in my iPhoto to look back on and remember all of the good times. Thinking it is so strange that he’s not here.

I gave this frame below to my Dad a few years ago as a gift and recently took it back home. It has two pictures of us on from one of our six Mexico Mission Trips. I love these two pictures and how they really express so much about our relationship. My Dad loved these pictures too…I remember how neat he thought this gift was when I gave it to him. The first pic is of him showing me how to hammer in the roof nails correctly, as we built a house for a family in need. He was always willing to help – whatever it was. Big or small, I was his little girl and he always took care of me. The second pic is of us when the job was done. My Dad used to always get teary eyed when we completed another house together, he was always so proud. And I was too. I love that we have these memories, along with so many others. I am missing him tonight and so very sad that there won’t be any more memory makers. But, I am so incredibly thankful for the ones we have made. Now, more than ever, I understand why they were so important to Dad to make them.

Thankful Board

This morning, I went out for a run. With tear filled eyes and a heavy heart, I logged 6 miles in the rain. Physically, it was a great run. Emotionally, it was hard. A lot went through my mind this morning. Today marks one month since my Dad passed. Crazy that its been that long already when it still feels so very fresh to me. The past few weeks have been the hardest of my life and those in my family’s lives. But through this tragedy, I have also seen some very neat things taking place. Blessings.

My friend (and co-worker) Sarah had the idea to make the huge chalkboard wall in our office our “Thankful Board.” Every day we try to write five things we are thankful for on the board to keep our minds focused on positive things and give God glory that is due for everything He has blessed us with daily. From small things to big things. Its been helpful to see some rays of sunshine during a dark time. So as I ran this morning, I tried to focus on things that I have to be thankful for & here are five, out of probably twenty, that I came up with.

So pretend the following is on a chalkboard that has “Thankful Board” written in huge pink letters at the top…

1. The friends and family that have completely wrapped their arms around us and loved & prayed us through this painful time, provided food for us for weeks, have allowed us to cry on their shoulders, and sometimes just came and sat with us – your presence means the world. We are thankful for each of you & the sense of genuine community we have here.

2. The way my Dad’s life is motivating us to make the most of our own lives. Ryan posted an awesome blog about this very thing, you can read it here. Dad used to tell us to always leave a place better than the way you found it. That’s inspirational to me on so many levels! It is overwhelmingly obvious to us that Dad definitely left this world a better place than the way he found it. Now its our turn. I am thankful for my Dad’s LIFE.

3. My Mom, brothers and sister. We are in constant contact throughout each day – phone calls, texts, emails, dinners, etc. Its much needed and somehow produces strength. My grandmother, mostly known as Memaw, told me just the other day that there is strength in numbers & gosh, that is so very true!

4. Ryan, Addi & Kam. There are no words. I LOVE my family with all that I am.

5. The song “Blessed Be Your Name” & the memory that goes with it. For those of you that were with us on the Mexico Mission Trip when my Dad’s truck got stolen – you know the depth & meaning behind this. And now during this time…even though the road is marked with suffering & there is definitely so much pain in the offering, we still continue to say – blessed be your name.

One Right, One Left

Turkey Trot - November, 2009

Me with the two greatest men in my life. The one to the left – my husband, my best friend, my children’s daddy, my heart. The one to the right – my dad, my friend, my mentor, and now more than ever, my motivation.

This Father’s Day is hard, I’m not going to lie. It hurts. Our hearts are still and will continue to be broken about this huge and very sudden loss. In honor of my dad this morning, we went and did this. It was very special. Gosh, I love my siblings and my mom – their presence gives me strength. Something about each of them makes me feel closer to my dad even though he’s gone.

After this walk of remembrance of one great man, I went for a 5 mile run with the other great man. Ryan and I ran through the town that with every turn reminds me of my dad. While running, I thought a lot. A lot about my dad and a lot about Ryan. This song by Sanctus Real came on about mile 2, and I thought it was so very timely and fitting for the day…

Today, as we continue to mourn, we also celebrate the life that my dad lived. Even though it hurts to push forward, I am motivated to make the most of this one life I have. My dad’s legacy will definitely be remembered and the memories we have with him will be treasured.

Today, I will celebrate my husband – who is such an amazing daddy himself and I love more and more each day. Addi and Kamryn adore their daddy and they have every reason too. He pours himself into them each day. He strives hard to be the best he can be in his role as a father…as he does with any role he takes on in his life. He is a lot like my dad in this way.

I love my dad. I love my husband. Happy Father’s Day to the two greatest men in my life!

He’s got Poppy with Jesus in his hands.

Many of you have asked how Addi and Kam are doing through all of this. As you know, our kids LOVE Grandma & Poppy. We have been blessed to live near them the last few years and spend a lot of time with them on a regular basis…definitely a God thing.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to handle telling them or what exactly to do. Heck, I still don’t even know how I’m supposed to handle it myself. We figured Addi was old enough and smart enough to understand, so Ryan & I wanted to make sure we did the right thing and approached her tender heart carefully. So after seeking advice from my mother and my grandmother, we determined to tell the girls that Poppy is living with Jesus now and that he’s so happy and will always be in our hearts. We didn’t let them see him at the funeral home, because that would have been too confusing.

They both seemed pretty unaffected for several days. They both loved going to Grandma’s house every day and playing with their cousin Kendrick…pretty distracted during the days of the viewing, funeral, etc. Every now and then, they would ask, “Where’s Poppy?” or “Where’s Hoppy?” – depending on the which child was asking – and we would remind them that he’s with Jesus. They would accept that answer. Sometimes they would ask why we were crying and we would tell them that we’re sad about Poppy and Addi even said, “well I’m not going to cry about that!”

But a few nights ago, I think it finally hit Addi. We were putting her to bed like we normally do – sing a song, say a prayer, etc. She started crying…big tears and a sad sob. When Ryan asked her what was wrong she said, “I just love Poppy and don’t want him to live with Jesus…that makes me sad.” She continued to cry for about ten minutes – saying “Poppy…Poppy” and finally Ryan calmed her down to pray. I obviously had to leave the room because my crying would have only made it worse. She said she wanted to pray for Poppy. In her little three year old way, she mourned my Dad that night. She got it and was sad. The next day, without being prompted, she went and found her little pink scrapbook that had pics from when Poppy was building her crib…she carried it around all morning and told me it was her special book. So sweet.

Then, in the car the next day, the girls were singing the song, as they do often, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” They like to make up their own verses like “He’s got Addi and Kamryn in his hands” or “He’s got Mommy & Daddy in his hands”, etc. So they were singing along and Addi busted out with, “He’s got Poppy with Jesus in his hands.” Wow. How much truth is in that sweet innocent statement?

It struck me that – all of this IS in God’s hands. My heart is breaking wide open, but knowing that truth helps and gives hope. And seeing how even in Dad’s death, God is using him in mighty ways – I continue to be so very proud of him.

Addi and Kamryn will no doubt miss their Poppy/Hoppy. I certainly do…terribly. I am thankful they had the last two years to spend so much time with him and get to know him and love him. His face lit up when we pulled into their driveway, and he was always the first out the door to greet us. This new reality will be hard. Please pray for their precious hearts. I am thankful that they still have their Grandma Clark and Grandaddy & Grandma Dixon to love on them and make memories with them for hopefully many years to come.

I love you all and am truly thankful for our friends and family who have wrapped their arms around us and loved us through this time. Your prayers, calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages, flowers, food, and most of all – your presence, will never be forgotten and mean more than you’ll ever know. We genuinely thank you.

Dear Dad

Unconditional love. That is what you taught me and that is what you gave me. Me and so many others. You were always there for me. When I made a mistake, you were there to help, no matter the circumstance. When I needed advice and didn’t know what to do next, you would tell me to “do the next right thing.” You listened. You loved. You made me feel special.

Making memories was important to you…our “deer hunting” adventures while singing silly songs, bull nettle busting around our house you built in the country, tossing washers in the shop on snowy days, all of our Mexico Mission trips, running races together, and the list goes on and on. Now more than ever, these memory makers are treasured. They are priceless and I will never forget the wonderful times we had together.

You were the strongest person I’ve ever known. You were a rock. We always knew that Dad would know what to do. “We’ll ask Dad.” “Dad can do it.” “We’ll get Dad to help.” “Dad will know.” These were common phrases around the Dixon household, as we knew we could always count on Dad – for anything, anytime, anywhere. He was there for us and with a smile on his face.

My Addi loves her Poppy and sweet Kamryn certainly adores her Hoppy. I love how God orchestrated the last two years of our lives to live right here close to you so our girls could get to know you. We will never let them forget you Dad.

You lived life to the fullest. You always said you loved mornings because you woke up with an excitement for what each day may bring. You wanted so badly to make your life count and leave a legacy. I couldn’t be more proud of you as I stand here today and say that you’ve done it Dad…you accomplished your goal. You’ve run a great race. And now my goal is to carry on that zeal and passion – to make each day count. To make memories whenever possible with those that I love.

There was, nor ever will be, a doubt in my mind that you loved me. I couldn’t have asked for a better Dad and I will forever be grateful that God blessed me with you.

As I used to say every night when I was a little girl, “Good night Daddy, I love you Daddy.”

Traci