Are the holidays difficult for you because they remind you of a loved one who has gone on to heaven? If so, I understand completely. This has been an extremely difficult year for our family. Our beloved father went home to be with the Lord, June 2, 2016. As the Thanksgiving holiday draws near this year, it will be bittersweet for our family. This will be the first Thanksgiving that we will not have our Dad with us. We all have our memories of Dad individually as well as collectively as a family. It is my hope and prayer that the memories that we have of our beloved father will sustain us through this holiday season. He will be with us in spirit as he shares his first Thanksgiving with the Lord.
Our father was truly a passionate and loving man. He loved his family and friends dearly and he had a fun loving spirit. He loved to laugh, tease, and tell funny stories of us when we were growing up. However, he was never afraid to correct us when he felt we were headed down the wrong path in life. We were always able to seek his counsel about anything. He was easy to talk to and we would often go to him when we had a problem. He was our sounding board in the good times as well as the bad times. He was always eager to help each of us any way that he could. Just being able to talk to him is what we miss the most about our father; he always gave us good and sound advice.
Although he loved his children, he really loved and cherished his grandchildren and great grandchildren. They dearly loved him too; he was so special to each of them in so many ways. At the time of his death, Dad had been blessed with 5 children, 10 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. Another great grandchild was born in August of this year; which brings us to a total of 11 great grandchildren now in the Stallings Family. We expect there will be more children born into the family in the coming years. What a legacy!
The most important thing we can say about our father is that he loved the Lord. It was his desire to win as many souls to Christ as possible. His faith was steadfast and he shared his love for the Lord with everyone he came into contact with. He studied God’s Word all the time until his eyesight started to fail. However, he had God’s Word in his heart and could quote the scriptures in the Bible with ease. He witnessed to his loved ones as well as others throughout his illness. He always told us that when he went to heaven he wanted a soul winner’s crown. To him, that was the most important crown of all. He never wanted anyone to leave this world and not be able to experience heaven.
Our father taught us many lessons as we were growing up and through the years, which have served our family well. Here are three that have made a lasting impact on my life.
Dad instilled a love for the Lord in us at a very early age. He showed us that by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, we could also share in God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. When we have faith and trust in the Lord, all things become possible through him. Faith and our trust in the Lord have seen us through many difficult storms.
Dad wanted all of us to love and care for one another as a family; it was very important to him. If any of us had a need, he wanted us to lift each other up, just like Jesus did.
My father instilled in us a good work ethic. Dad was a man who believed in hard work, and learned its value at an early age. It was very important to him that we all could provide for ourselves and become productive members of society.
When Dad received his terminal diagnosis, we were all devastated. I guess in many ways none of us wanted to face the fact that we were going to lose the man who had meant so much to us. However, it was now our turn now to walk with him on his final journey, which we all did. We surrounded him with all the love and care that he had surrounded us with during our lives. We all shared in his good times as well as in his difficult moments. Our father walked his final journey with such dignity and grace and the Lord granted his final prayer; which was to go peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his loved ones. Although this Thanksgiving will be bittersweet, we are all thankful for our Dad and his life, which was well lived. We know in our hearts that when Dad walked through the gates of heaven, he heard the words he longed to hear which were, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
It is my hope and prayer that everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving this year. Enjoy your time with your family and friends, but most of all be thankful for all of your loved ones and cherish your moments together.