I have been avoiding this blog for a few weeks. Mostly because what I need to say first is not easy, even if I’m just typing it. My dad, Derek Aldridge, the creator and author of this blog, passed away on December 6th. His battle with pancreatic cancer ended as peacefully and painlessly as possible. My mother, brother and I were by his side. As a family, we want to thank everyone who sent condolences, flowers and food. We appreciate all of your support and love during this time.

I would be foolish to say that my dad now only exists in photos and memories. He lives on in everything I say and do. While Rick, Grayson and I rushed around the grocery store this morning, I saw a man holding his elderly father’s hand and guiding him through the aisles, walking slowly and letting his dad set their pace. My family was rushing through the aisles, trying to get out of there as quickly as possible. But then I saw this pair. I was instantly reminded of my dad- of all the times we’d go out with his walker or cane and we’d noticeably move a little slower than everyone else. My dad use to say that the longer it took us to get somewhere, the more time we got to spend together. Then he’d smile and remind me that cancer brought many blessings. I suddenly noticed myself pushing the grocery cart a little slower through the store, my impatience with the holiday crowd faded and I found myself singing Christmas carols with Grayson. My dad’s presence influenced who I was and his absence will influence who I am.

I initially wanted to write this blog about how my dad’s love has changed me. There are far too many examples of what he taught me just by loving me. When I sat down to write, I noticed myself beginning to think of all the ways my dad was like my Heavenly Father. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say my dad was a god. He was far from it! But, he loved me unconditionally, he valued me, he taught me, he protected me…. should I keep going? I think the reason it is so easy for me to believe in a loving God is because I had such a great example of what a father figure should be. I always wanted to spend time with my dad; I wanted to learn from him, study him, imitate him. Isn’t that what we should all want to do with our Heavenly Father also? Perhaps the role of our earthly fathers is to provide a godly example of love. When I was little, I took a rock to his Subaru. I scratched his bumper and left him with copious amount of damage. His love for me never changed. When I was a little bit older, I snuck out of the house on New Years Eve. His love for me never changed. I crashed the first two cars my parents gave me. His love for me never changed. I am imperfect, but my dad loved me no matter what. Our Heavenly Father’s love for us will never change, it is a constant. Whether you are feeling happy, sad, discouraged, hopeful or deserving, a father’s love is always there.

For the past few weeks, I have been walking around with an emptiness inside of me, a void that I thought would never be filled. I felt as if no one could possibly love me the way that my dad loved me. I worried that I would never feel that pure, unconditional, strong love again. (Sidetrack: I can just picture my mom reading this and saying, “What am I, chopped liver?” No, Mom, you’re much more than chopped liver. 🙂 You provide me a pure, unconditional, strong love, but it’s different. It’s a motherly love. I don’t know how to explain the difference, but it’s different. And that’s ok!) One night, as I tossed and turned in bed, letting the void consume me, I grabbed my phone and pulled open my Bible app. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I started by searching “Father’s Love.” I don’t know why, but I was surprised by how many bible verses there are about the type of love that I was so desperately missing. Here I was stricken by grief, feeling alone and missing my dad’s one of a kind love when a sense of comfort that I had not felt in a long time rushed over me. God’s love will fill any void. I’m still grieving my dad’s passing, but I know that I will be ok. I know that I’m loved, valued and protected.

With Christmas just a few days away, my hope is that all of you enjoy some quiet time with your Father. Reflect and rejoice in His promises to you.

Merry Christmas and God Bless,