I sat over the wing counting each bolt, and when I was done I recounted each one again making sure we didn’t lose one flying from California to the mountains of Arizona to see my dad.

It’s been more than a decade and I’m on a plane with my family flying to visit him at his home dying of cancer. This will be the first and the last time he will lay eyes on my family and for me to hear him say how beautiful my girls are the moment we walk in. This will also be the one and only time that I hear my dad say the words I love you.

Growing up I saw my dad as a man who joked about everything, its one of the reasons why I liked being with him. But then a woman once told me after meeting him for the first time, she said, you couldn’t trust a man who always jokes around.

And then after I turned eighteen my mom knocked on my bedroom door to tell me that dad wouldn’t be home for dinner…that he wouldn’t be coming home for dinner again because he was leaving us for another woman. I just stood there. Broken. And my mom walked away and went to work. That day our family became part of a divorce statistic, and my heart grew more calloused than it already was.

But God did this miracle thing when He turns all the wrong and hurt wildly right and you know it’s Him because it doesn’t make sense because He molded it from nothing.

As I sit on the plane I’m not just recounting the bolts on the wing but also the memories of the past few months when my husband and I flew into SEA/TAC Airport in Washington State and we rented a car in the rain arriving wet and late to my grandpa’s funeral service and slid quietly onto a pew in a tiny chapel in the middle of the cemetery.

When it was over I went to hug my blind grandma but instead I saw my dad standing next to her and I hugged him. My grandma heard my voice and called out my name and her face lite up because it had been too long since we all were together as family.

In the middle of a loss God gave me a gift, a second chance with my dad, a reconnection and reconciliation that was finally real and genuine. And here we were three months later flying into Arizona to say our good byes because God’s calling him home.

Family is hard but it’s brief, and it’s the foundation God’s given us to find Him in and build our faith from. Family is where we learn to forgive and give grace to others and where we find it mostly for ourselves.

Will you continue to join me on my journey of faith? If you haven’t already purchased the book Atlas Girl you can get a copy here: http://www.emilywierenga.com

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