Archive for the ‘Reflections & Musings’ Category

Hannah’s Homegoing
A photo of our family taken by Jacob Betchol lylphotography

A photo of our family taken by Jacob Betchol lylphotography.com

#AHANNAHPERCENT – Hannah Elizabeth Diaso

One year ago tonight Hannah moved to heaven. She passed into glory. O how we miss our beautiful daughter, and the boys miss their much-loved sister.

A close friend of ours, Jacob Betchol posted this tribute on his website today. I asked him if it would be okay for me to share it with you on my site, and he agreed. Thank you, Jacob!

We first met him when our son, David, and Jacob became close friends and debate partners at San Diego Christian College. Jacob is a talented photographer. He’s also a great friend and support to our family. He took some beautiful photos for our family about two years ago. He also took this stunning shot of Hannah for her graduation from IMPACT, and it ended up being used for her graduation to heaven as well.

Here’s Jacob’s website: lylphotography.com/Ahannahpercent and I copied his post below. I think you will enjoy what he has to share.

Our beautiful daughter and beloved sister, Hannah

Our beautiful daughter and beloved sister, Hannah. We miss her dearly. Photo by Jacob Betchol lylphotography.com/ahannahpercent

Jacob’s Post

Hannah stood alone at the front, radiating a smile. Beautifully framed she stood still, the air around her almost bright and airy. The memories and stories that friends and family shared about her, joined together into an encouraging melody. And as the stories swelled around her, it was as if her smile grew even larger.
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It was late afternoon, the sun was settling for the day. Its rays were long and colorful, and radiated with such beauty. That the posing and the click of the shutter were almost distractions from the creativity of the golden hour. When Hannah had asked me to photograph her for her graduation, it took me longer than usual to get back to her. I almost said no.

Photography was no longer just a passion, it was (and is) my vocation. So I had started saying no when people asked me to take photographs. The feeble excuses that it would add to my portfolio or would just take few minutes were falling flat. And yet, I found myself in Point Loma that day taking graduation photographs. My thank you for my efforts, a dirty chai, was sitting on an uneven stump slowly melting. I’m not sure why I said yes that day, but this story is not about that answer.

This is the story of a photograph worth taking. I’m so glad I agreed to photograph Hannah that day. It has been almost a year since I walked up to her portrait. My hand reaching into my suit pocket for my handkerchief wiping away the tears forming in the corner of my eye. Hannah was no longer with us, but her memory encourages me to this day. Little did I know, that a photograph from that graduation photo session would end up in front of the sanctuary for her graduation to heaven. That her smile would embody the stories shared then and even now.

Hannah’s family coined the word Ahannahpercent to embody her memory. If you know the Diaso family, you know that it is impossible to feel unwelcome in their home. Hannah was the sum of that welcoming grace. She always had a bright smile and a warm welcome. She cared for you and lived fully present in the moment. While it can be so easy to go through the motions, to say hello without being genuine or to offer a smile that is not caring. That is not living life Ahannahpercent.

She is an encouragement to me as I photograph wedding days. A reminder to be fully present and invested in the stories I am documenting. If I can be unashamedly excited and genuinely thrilled by the details of the day. I am photographing Ahannahpercent. It calls for going beyond platitudes and genuinely caring for people. One of Hannah’s good friends shares it best. I’ll let Susanna take it from here.

Thank You for Standing with us on this Journey!

We appreciate your prayers and encouragement over the last year and during these difficult days.

Our family has set up two memorials for Hannah. AHANNAHPERCENT: Hannah Diaso Memorial for scholarships to young women who are interested in serving the Lord in ministry. You can give to that fund by clicking the link above. The fund is managed by Mission to the World.

We are also working on raising funds for a Hannah Diaso Memorial Church. You can give to that outreach project by clicking on the above link.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

La Pieta
Dave & Dawn in St. Peter's Cathedral

Dave & Dawn in St. Peter’s Cathedral

Dawn and I had the opportunity to visit St. Peter’s Cathedral when we were in Rome. We actually walked up to the top of the dome, which gave us a good work out and breathtaking views.

One of my favorite pieces of art that I saw in the Cathedral is La Pieta, which I believe Michaelangelo sculpted. It depicts Mary with Christ laying across her after he had been crucified. In the sculpture, you see Mary’s sorrow. Dawn and I have thought in a different and more profound way about loss, since our daughter, Hannah passed away last year. We are coming up on the one year anniversary, which has brought many hard memories back. Hannah went to be with the Lord around midnight – the ending of one day, October 17 and the beginning of a new day October 18.

Identifying with Mary’s Sorrow
La Pieta

La Pieta

We are able to identify with Mary’s sorrow in a much deeper way. I think most of us tend to focus on the resurrection, which is supremely important to our faith. As Paul says, without the resurrection we would be fools. My point isn’t to minimize the significance of the resurrection rather highlight that Christ suffered as he bore our sins. It cost Him dearly. Also, those that were close to him at the time did not realize at first that Christ would be raised, even though He told them that he would.

Back to the sculpture, many have said that it not only captures the sorrow, the sadness of Mary, but also the hope. I think this is key. There is hope in the gospel, so much hope.

I don’t know what I would do in my sorrow if it were not for the hope that we have in Christ. Paul told us not to grieve as those who do not have hope. We do have much to help us lift up our eyes from where our help comes from.

Grief and Grieving
Dawn, Hannah & Dave at MTW's Link conference

Dawn, Hannah & Dave at MTW’s Link conference taken in September 2016

As I go through this period of grieving with my wife I notice that she is more expressive about her sadness. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about Hannah, and I don’t miss her. Often, I wonder and even ask out loud, “why”? “What could have we done differently? Is there something we could have done to change the outcome?” I don’t really know the answer to those questions, but I do know that the Lord comforts me in my sorrow, just as I’m sure he comforted Mary as she wept when Christ was crucified.

The Bible even encourages by saying that we have a high priest who can sympathize with us in our weaknesses. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV) Then the author of Hebrews continues in Hebrews 5:7,8, “In the days of his flesh, ‘Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”

It seems strange that there would be comfort in the cross. Comfort in the symbol that signified the most painful and most disgraceful way to die during that time period. There is pain in the cross and yet there is comfort because of the resurrection. Christ suffered on our behalf. He paid the debt for our sins. He rose on the third day as was prophesied. Because of His death and resurrection, we have hope, and those who place their faith in Christ have life everlasting. That’s why the Bible says, “O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57, ESV).

Thanks be to God my friends. Thanks be to God who takes who comforts us in our sorrow and sadness and takes away the sting of death and gives us live!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Even the Rocks Give Testimony
Dave & Dawn in St. Peter's Cathedral

Dave & Dawn in St. Peter’s Cathedral

I found my first trip to Rome to be a spiritual experience. I wasn’t expecting it, but as Dawn and I saw the beautiful sites and history, so much inspired by our Faith, and the Story of the Bible. To see Mary, Joseph and Jesus in paintings and sculptures in the Pantheon one of the oldest buildings in the world, speaks to the longevity, the endurance of the Church. God has preserved His Church.

This truth is even more evident in the Vatican. Regardless of the missteps of the Church over the centuries, it’s amazing to think of how the Lord God Almighty has preserved His Church. The Church today exists in many forms around the world, and although there have been sects and offshoots there are many that still faithfully preach the foundational message of the Gospel.

The Message Found in the Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo's masterpiece found in the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s masterpiece found in the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel is not only beautiful, but it tells the story of the Bible from the Creation of the World and Man to Moses and the Law to Christ and his life, death and resurrection. On the front wall of the Sistine Chapel the largest painting depicts the final judgement something that we tend to shy away from today in our churches. It seems that many churches today are timid and afraid to talk about sin. They either under emphasize sin and it’s effect on the world, or they over emphasize it and forget God’s grace. The other issues the church is reluctant to address today are hell and the final judgment. All these themes are amazingly and strikingly captured in Michelangelo’s masterpiece.

The Challenge of Preaching the Full Gospel in Our Age
Inside St. Peter's Cathedral

Inside St. Peter’s Cathedral

I believe part of the reason we shy from these themes in the church today is that they were not preached with love and balance in the past. We’ve also been influenced by our culture and we live in an age of tolerance. Anything that divides we tend to stay away from.

I understand being sensitive and careful in how we communicate the gospel with our culture. Yet, if people fail to see the darkness of sin and the despair of hell, they will not appreciate fully what Christ did for us. Christ death and resurrection are minimized if we don’t realize how lost we are without his saving grace found in his death and resurrection.

Pray to Grow and Know God in a Deeper Way
Worship in Spirit and Truth

Worship in Spirit and Truth

My desire is to grow in loving God, represented in the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I want to know Him more and love Him in a greater way. Jesus says in John 10 that His sheep know His voice. I definitely want to know His voice and be able discern the difference between His voice and all the other many voices calling for my attention. I pray that my love for Christ will exceed my desire for man’s approval. That is not easy. It’s hard to be called names, or for people to think you are foolish when you follow Christ. Yet, this often happens to those who love Jesus. It happened to Jesus himself.

Pray with me and my family as we seek to put God’s kingdom first. I must admit that often I fail miserably. I don’t love as Christ loved, but as He works in me I see transformation and His Spirit doing a Holy and wonderful work in my family and in me. Praise be to God! Thanks for praying with us and for us!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

The Pain of Loss
The Cross on Mount Soledad in San Diego

The Cross on Mount Soledad in San Diego

Recently I was conversing with some of my missionary colleagues about death and grieving, and how most of us struggle with working through the sorrow of losing someone we love. The Bible tells us to not grieve as those without hope, but it does not tell us not to grieve. One of the phrases that was said a few times just a few days after Hannah had passed away is that “Hannah is more alive than ever.” While that is true, I didn’t feel that it helped me at the time. That phrase in some way seemed to make me feel like I shouldn’t be sad. I know it wasn’t meant that way, but I didn’t find it comforting. That is not to say that I lost hope entirely. Yet, I felt that it minimized the pain and the deep loss I had just experienced.

I should add that I’m more able to receive that word, and I find it more comforting now that I’ve had some time to grieve and process Hannah’s home going.

I still feel the sadness at times, and it hits me at unexpected times. It’s not as frequent as it once was. In some way, I find it hard to explain the emotions that I go through. The realization that my daughter is no longer here, and that I can’t talk to her anymore. We can’t do together any of those things we had dreamed of.

Lessons from the Cross
Dave with Hannah - My beautiful daughter that I love

Dave with Hannah – My beautiful daughter that I love

As I conversed with my missionary friends, one of them, Bill Yarbrough brought up some thoughts of a friend of his, who just happens to be a nun. She said that she feels we move on from the cross too quickly to the resurrection. We forget the pain involved in Jesus’s death on the cross, and that his mother and his friends felt deep sorrow. They didn’t realize at the time of his death that Jesus would rise from the dead. Thanks be to God that Jesus did rise on the third day!

Now that I lost my daughter, and I have suffered deep loss I am grateful for the man of sorrows, who’s acquainted with grief. He comforts me in my loss. He stays with me. He gives me hope, and lifts me out of the pit when I fall in. I believe the Lord has some awesome and wonderful mysteries for me to learn as He embraces me in my loss.

All of the Creation Groans for Redemption
Dave & Dawn - Thankful for my wife and that I don't have to go on this journey alone

Dave & Dawn – Thankful for my wife and that I don’t have to go on this journey alone

We live in this broken world, scarred by sin.

The enemy of our soul comes to kill, steal and destroy, and he will do anything he can to hurt us. This too is one of the effects of the fallen world we live in.

That is why all of creation groans for redemption. We long for the new creation. We long to be in the place where there will be no more loss, no more suffering, no more sorrow. The place where we will see our Savior, the lover of our soul face to face. We will be reunited with those we love.

I can’t wait to see my daughter again. I can’t wait to hug her again. If there are any tears they will be tears of joy!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

I Need God’s Grace
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The Cross on Mt. Soledad in San Diego

This year more than past years remembering that Christ was called a man of sorrows acquainted with grief has ministered to me. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53:3)

I recognize more than ever that I need the Lord’s grace and tender mercies. I long for His healing touch.

Our Ongoing Mourning

My family and I continue to struggle with Hannah’s passing, or as we’ve begun to say her moving to heaven. Recently the thought occurred to me that it doesn’t matter if I get angry or sad or somewhere in between, none of that will bring my daughter back to me. As King David said after washing his face, changing his clothes and worshipping the Lord in reference to his son who had passed away in 2 Samuel 12:23, “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

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We Miss Our Beautiful Hannah, but We are Glad She is Celebrating Now

No matter how much I long for it, Hannah will not return to me. I do miss her every day. I do long to see her and hug her again.

These are some of the reasons why I love that the Bible says that Jesus was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. I feel through all of this the Lord is saying to me in a very personal and tender way, “I know your pain, I know your anguish. Hannah’s death was not in vain.” What a wonderful comfort. What a wonderful savior!

The Pain of the Ultimate Loss
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Our family in Mexico City

A few weeks ago Dawn and I went to see the movie, The Shack. I read the book a number of years ago, but I didn’t remember the story all that well. I’m aware of the controversy surrounding both, but that is not my purpose for mentioning it here.

As I watched the movie with Dawn I was surprised by how much the story ministered to me. It touched me as I saw a father grapple with the loss of his daughter. His sorrow, his anger and even his disappointment with God. There was a point in the movie where one of the characters playing God said, “It’s not your fault.” That is something I’ve wrestled with in pondering the why’s behind Hannah’s passing. I too sensed during a time of prayer that the Lord said to me, “It’s not your fault.” I think they are words that I need to be reminded of often.

A father is supposed to protect his child from harm, so when the ultimate harm comes there is a sense of failure. I wasn’t able to protect and keep my daughter from the tragedy of death. That’s so painful! Thank you for the man of sorrows, who is acquainted with grief. Thank you for being there for me.

Thank you for this day when we remember how Christ suffered on the cross for our sins. Good Friday seems like an oxymoron when we consider what it is referring to, but as many have said before, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming. Hallelujah!”

This hope that we have in Christ. This hope that David declared in recognizing that one day he would go to see his son, that is the hope that sustains us! We give thanks to the Lord for such a wonderful hope!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Writer’s Block or Just Grieving?
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Our last family photo with Hannah

Before my daughter went to her permanent residence in heaven I found it easier to write and post on my blog. I felt like it was cathartic in many ways. It helped me to get the word out and tell the story about all the wonderful things the Lord is doing on the Border, the Baja and Beyond. I also shared some of my personal musings and reflections as I deemed it appropriate.

I wouldn’t say that I don’t enjoy writing now, but I would say it’s harder. In some of the books I’ve read about grief, they mention how many of the things that used to bring us joy are now hollow. I feel that at times, and even though in a few days we will hit the five month mark there are still a rollercoaster of emotions that I experience. I wish there were another way, but I don’t think there is. I believe that all in all Dawn and I are doing well considering what we are passing through. Yet, it’s still painful. There are still those moments where we want to scream out, Why? Why? Why? Fortunately, the Lord doesn’t leave us there he comforts us, and many friends surround us.

God Does Sustain Us in Our Suffering!

A little over a week ago our friend and pastor, Stephen Phelan asked Dawn and me to share in church about how the Lord sustains us in our suffering. I thought I’d share some of that here with you as well, including a dream that our friend Marissa had.

I never really understood how horrible death was until our daughter died
I realize that this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, and there’s not a day that goes by that Dawn and I don’t feel some sadness, some frustration and like a part of us is gone.
I Miss My Beautiful Radiant Daughter
Our beautiful daughter and beloved sister, Hannah

Our beautiful radiant daughter and much loved sister, Hannah. We miss her dearly

I miss my daughter. I’m glad Hannah is dancing and partying in heaven, whatever that looks like, but I want to hold her and hug her again. I want to see her beautiful radiant smile in living color. There is a hole now that can’t fully be filled. That is my grief, that is my mourning song. I’m learning firsthand how cruel death is.

There is a type of groaning. One of the hard things about death is there are no do overs. No second chances. It is final. When I see pictures of Hannah and I’m reminded of her for a moment I think there must be a way to see her again this side of heaven. Maybe it’s a longing God puts inside of me. A longing for eternity, and a longing for something more and something greater than what this life has to offer.
God is Good, He Holds Me Tight
My anchor and what I’ve had to remember:
God is good
God is love
God is in control
These are simple truths, but it’s what I keep going back to when I get confused and lost on this long and winding road that we are on.
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I love this picture because Hannah took it at Starbucks one of our favorite places to hang out, and she put it on my lock screen on my phone

There’s a lot I don’t understand. I don’t understand why my daughter had to die at such a young age? Now I wonder why just a few months after Hannah’s early home going, why does my dad have to have inoperable lung cancer? Why do we have to endure two hard things so close together?

God made it clear to me that it is good to grieve and it is right to grieve. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says we grieve, but not as those without hope.
Grieving With My Mechanic
About a week after Hannah passed away I took my car in to my mechanic and he asked me how my family was doing. My mechanic is from Afghanistan, and he’s not a believer.
I told him how my daughter had died, and that it was hard. I said, “my faith gives me hope, and that I grieve, but not like those without hope.” He said, “that is easy to say,” and I responded, “no it’s not really, because I don’t get to hug my daughter anymore, I don’t get to kiss her and tell her I love her. I don’t get to go out for coffee or have any dates with her. I don’t get to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. All our dreams and aspirations are gone.”
He softened up after this, and told me of how he had been struggling with drinking , and his wife forced him to go get help. Then he told me he had a vacation home in Bajamar, which is near Ensenada and offered to let me use it. The Lord used him to encourage me, as he opened up.
Hannah’s home going  made me hate death more, and it made me long for heaven. If I’m honest a big reason I want to go to heaven is to see my daughter again and to give her a big kiss and a big hug. What a wonderful day that will be.
12362973_734515866680367_9062266216563511086_oMarissa’s Dream
I’d like to end this longer post than usual with a dream. An experience that Hannah’s good friend Marissa Irakoze shared with us.
I woke up today feeling a really intense feeling of happy and sad. I had a dream I saw both of you and Jon and David standing by a bench, we were in Heaven from how peaceful and joyful I felt. There was a girl sitting with her back turned towards me, but she had soft brown curled hair just like Hannah would wear hers when she lived with us. I thought “no, there’s no way that could be Hannah”. She turned around and immediately I burst into something that was crying, squealing and laughing all at the same time. I somehow managed to say “I really thought I would never see you again!! I really felt like this day would never come!! I can’t believe this is you!!” And she just looked SO healthy. Healthier, more joyful, incredibly at peace, and everything about her just glowed, and so so content. I wish I could describe it. She hugged me tight and just said “see? I told you it wouldn’t be long until I would see you guys again! I told you not to worry because I’m with Jesus!”
 
I feel encouraged and sad, because we’re still on the other side of this dream and it DOES feel like it’s taking forever to be able to join her. But in the dream, I could tell I had been waiting so long to see her, but once I looked back it was nothing compared to the eternity we now had to catch up. It was one of the strangest feeling I’ve had in a dream.
 
Praying for you all today ❤️❤️
I told Marissa that I shared this dream with our church, and she said that it was the clearest dream she’s ever had. I think it’s God graciously giving us a glimpse of heaven!
“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬
Thank you so much for standing with us. Thank you so much for letting me share my heart with you. I pray the Lord’s rich and bountiful blessings on you!
In His Grip, Dave
God’s Reassurance
Hannah with Daisy near the flowers that bloom this time of year

Hannah with Daisy in front of the flowers that bloom this time of year near our home

I’ve gone back and forth as to whether I should share my experience via this site or not. I’m finding it hard to express in writing the power and the impact that a recent  encounter with the Lord has had on me. I pray that you find this story uplifting.

Last week the Lord met me in a special way. While Dawn and I were praying with a group of people I felt pressure like a hand on my back. I thought it might be another person, or Dawn. After a while I realized that there wasn’t a person laying their hand on me, so I continued to pray and press in. I asked the Lord what was going on.

I felt the Lord’s presence and comfort. Then he reminded me that not only was he with me at that moment, but he was also there with us when Hannah passed away. He escorted Hannah to heaven, and he came alongside Dawn and me to get us through the horrendous hours that we endured while we came to grips with what happened to our beautiful daughter. I started sobbing as the Lord revealed this too me.

The Peace of Christ
I saw these flowers blooming this week and it reminded me of Hannah and the photo above

I saw these flowers blooming this week and it reminded me of Hannah.

One of the issues I’ve struggled with is that I keep seeing in my mind how Hannah looked when she died. Sometimes I feel like this image haunts me. The Lord impressed upon me that Hannah no longer looks like that. It was a very emotional experience. I felt the Lord pouring his healing power into me, and his waves of his love over me.

We’ve had a number of friends of ours who have seen visions of our daughter in heaven. Those dreams and visions that our friends have shared with us have been a source of inspiration for us. Yet, for some reason we’ve not had any dreams or visions. I feel like there’s a part of me that needs a constant reassurance that my daughter is in heaven. That allows me to grieve, but not like those without hope. Hope is vital. We can’t live without it.

On Saturday during this time of prayer I saw a bright light, and then I saw trees with their green leaves and a beautiful blue sky. I didn’t see Hannah, but I had a sense that she was there, in heaven and in peace. I felt the Lord’s overwhelming peace during this time.

It was an unbelievable experience. On the way home I tried to explain to Dawn what happened, and I just couldn’t. Finally after some time and more tears I was able to share my experience with Dawn. Thank you Jesus for your overwhelming love, your care and your tender mercies.

I hope this story of how Jesus showed up and ministered to me in a deep and profound way will also lift you up. Thank you for joining us on this journey!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org