Friday, June 29, 2012

Faithful Friday: With God

Tim and I have started a new Bible study at our church called "Experiencing God."  We're a little behind the rest of our group, given the ER events the past two weekends have brought us.  But, as the book and our pastor have stated, "it's not a race and should be taken one day at a time."

The study includes a workbook that has you focus on a few scriptures and one idea each day.  Each week a Bible verse is given to memorize.  Ours, and I'm writing from memory, is:

"I am the vine, are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.  For apart from me, you can nothing." - John 15:5

I've felt like I was back in VBS memorizing the scripture and testing each other.  How sad that as adults we tend to fade in our effort to truly learn and know the Bible.  Each Wednesday that I'm in missions, the children amaze me at their knowledge.  They inspire me to have that passion again to not only seek His word but to know it fully in my heart.

We're only on Day 4 of the book but I've already been amazed at the way God is speaking to us.  Each day something from the scripture or study will be brought to life.  I find myself awestruck with each revelation. 

One of our studies included allowing God's will to work in your life and to truly open yourself for His work to be done through you.  There have already been some goosebump, or "Wow, God!" moments I've experienced. 

Last night, we were honored to be a part of a local non-profit's annual fundraiser.  Together We Care (TWC) is an organization I've been a part of, in small ways, for many years.  We've recently became more involved, as our niece Tina has become active with them.  She's been to several teen leadership conferences and events with them the past year and was a server last night for their dinner/auction.  A tradition for TWC, they honored two special people with community awards.  One of the ladies, though surprised, took the mic and shared, "I believe God gives us all talents and it's up to us to put them to work.  If I see a brother or sister in need, I just have to help."  And I don't know why but it was just another "Wow, God!" moment because it was exactly what we'd read the night before.

We arrived home late, and I didn't feel we'd give the study the true time and devotion it requires, so we pulled our short devotion book off the nightstand.  Though it is dated, we've fallen behind on using it now that we've started the workbook.  We decided last night to just read the next day, instead of skipping to the correct date.  Can you guess the passage it led us to?

It was "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey was known to say....

6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. - John 15:6-11

And as we sat in our bed, covered in goosebumps, we certainly felt God speaking to us.  My hope is that He will speak to you today too. 

May you have a blessed and Joyful Faithful Friday!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What Matters Most

When you've faced tragedies like we have, you cling a bit tighter to those you love.  We treasure the moments, even simple every day ones, perhaps a little more than the average person.  Saying "I love you" isn't just a habit said at the end of a conversation, it's important and included throughout our days.

Most of the time.

Surviving loss as we have didn't make us super-human.  We still make mistakes.  We still get caught up in the busyness of life.  We still, sometimes, forget how preciously short this life is.

Friday night was a scary reminder.

Despite us happily postponing any anniversary plans to care for Tina's foot this weekend, my sister (and kiddos) insisted we have some couple time.  More than anything, I think the kids just wanted to hang with cool Aunt Raven.  After them showering us with a clean sweep of the house and promises not to forget medicine and foot soaks, we hesitantly agreed.  They joyfully trotted off for a night of junk food, no bedtimes and babies and we planned a mini date.

After our sweet dinner and shopping date, I settled in at the house in comfy pjs and prepped for the movie portion.  Though we had planned to go to an actual theatre, none of the movies were impressive enough to cause us to throw away large amounts of cash for overpriced tickets and popcorn.  Instead we opted to call it a night early, picked up a few rentals at the video store, and chose to slave over the microwave for our buttery movie snack. 

Smiling from the memories made thus far, I turned to see Tim come in the house from watering the plants.  His urgency shook me to the core.  The mood changed.

"Everybody's ok.....Raven and the kids have been in an accident...."  everything said afterwards is a complete blur.  Though my heart was pounding, hands shaking and tears streaming down my face, I managed to put myself in auto-pilot and redress, find my shoes and grab my purse to meet him back in the truck within moments.  Half of my heart was breaking, remembering our last drive to an accident...forcing myself to reality, the other half was focused on Noah.  In prayer, and simultaneously making calls, I tried to calm the panicked mess of a mom I was.  Tim was insisting Noah was ok but my hands needed to be wrapped around him to be sure.  Over and over again I replayed the last moments I'd had with the kids earlier that day.  Did we hug goodbye?  Did I say "I love you?"

When we arrived on scene, lights flashing-blaring breaks in the night sky-forcing my eyes to squint and adjust, Tina was the first face I saw.  I grabbed her up and scanned her body, my mind making note of every part and piece.  Hugging her, I asked if she was ok and then I heard and felt Noah behind me.  For several long minutes, I held him in the tightest hug possible without hurting him, part of it to say 'I love you,' part to control myself.  Pulling him away my eyes scanned him.  His poor little face was red, bruised, swollen and his one teary eye and quivering lip made it additionally hard for me to not break down.

Hearing the sadness in my sister's voice as she apologized to Tim, as if she could control a deer jumping out in front of them, the rest of my frenzied self calmed.  I put on a smiling face to check out the babies, who were waiting in what remained of the truck.  Fifty fingers and fifty toes counted later, my sister sore and Noah's right eye the only known damage (a result of air bags), I said thankful prayers and loaded my two up for a trip to the ER.

The rest of the weekend was a juggling of doctor visits, eye drops, foot soaks, dozens of hugs and lots of family time.  While waiting for the results in the emergency room I verified that we, in fact, had not hugged before they left with my sister.  They were excited and ran to truck, me playfully yelling out "I love you too!" at the result of them not really saying good-bye.  Something so simple but, had the wreck been worse, a moment I would've never forgiven.

What was a minor accident (although Noah's eye abrasion and my sister's fractured ribs would disagree), was a chance for me to reaffirm my feelings for my family - to my family.  They are what matters most to me in this world.  And I will never, ever grow tired of telling them so.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Faithful Friday: Love Never Fails

An annual anniversary tradition, the black videotape was dusted off last night so we could relive our wedding.  Watching those fresh, young faces so full of nervous love, I wondered if we realized the depth of the vows recited to each other.

I remember having a conversation about it, because I chose to remove the word obey from our ceremony.  It just didn't convey the partnership that we had.  In fact, we chose to go another non-traditional route, having Tim meet me halfway down the aisle.  I joined him and walked together, symbolizing that we would always meet each other halfway in our marriage.

Listening to those soft and youthful voices, I caught a verse that I didn't really remember from our wedding.

"Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God."
-Ruth 1:16

I don't recall selecting this verse, so it was more than likely the preacher, but I felt it fit our relationship perfectly.  Tim married a stubbornly independent, opinionated girl but, through love and patience, we've both learned to bend and move as needed.  Two became one.

We've gone places in our marriage we never expected - good and bad.  Nineteen years later, neither of us sleeps well or is happy when we're apart.  I want to stay wherever Tim is.  Though we both brought an eclectic group of wacky family members to our marriage, we've accepted them all with open arms.  I'm sure we didn't truly consider the symbolism of each of us hugging the other mother and handing her a rose all those years ago, but it's how we've remained.  And God has been the foundation on which our marriage was built, has rested, and continues to be held.  He is most certainly our glue.

Prior to our video viewing, we were treated to a dinner under the stars at a quaint little table that was mere steps from our doorway.  Our back deck once again became Blair's Bistro, but a welcome surprise was that we were waited on by our sweet boy.  I don't know many twelve year old boys who willing would want to participate in an evening of romance.  Most would run screaming the other direction.  But our Noah never ceases to amaze us and the manners, service and loving touches he added made the night extra special.

Although I cooked our meal, once my chef hat was removed, I was whisked away to a reserved seat outside.  "Ma'am what would you like to drink tonight?" I was asked.  Moments later a chilled diet Dr. Pepper in our fanciest glass appeared at my side.  As if practiced for weeks, candles were lit, cloth napkins (aka dish towels) were placed on our laps, and soft music filled the air. 

We were then informed of the solo special that was promptly served to us, velvety ribbons of pasta in a cream sauce with jumbo shrimp and a side of crusty garlic bread.

In perfect timing, our dessert menu was later produced, with a choice of elegant cupcakes.  I was tickled that he took an extra step to place them in glass serving bowls.

We were able to take that photo because this restaurant allowed us to "rent" a camera to capture the evening.  Our waiter was even kind enough to take a few memento shots for us.  He then politely instructed us to retire to the theatre for a video and surprise.  After watching our wedding, we were handed two Wii remotes as the tune from Super Mario played in the background.  Recreating our first kiss, we giggled like teens in love, challenging each other to a game.

What a beautiful, blessed anniversary it was.
And I'm looking forward to each and every one to come.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Duck

The hospital has been our second home the past few days.  That hospital.  The one where we learned Austin was gone.  It' been nearly four years but it is still that hospital - and probably always will be.  I hate it.  The smell, the lights, that room.  We had to walk past that room on Sunday, Father's Day.

I had to push away every screaming, crying fiber of my soul to focus on the "emergency" at hand because a big part of me wanted to slide into the floor and break.  But a sweet little girl, who rarely complains, was in obvious pain.  And she needed us...wanted me.

Tina, my niece, has blessed us since moving in last summer.  Unreal to imagine that she's been here nearly a year.  So much has changed since that first weekend she stayed with us, "just until we figured things out."  Now, it's hard to imagine her petite smiling face not here.  I miss her when she's away.

In fact, she was away this weekend and got hurt.  Saturday night, while we were out with Noah and his baseball team, Tina injured her foot.  Her exact comment on Facebook was, "OMG My sister just fell off a horse and I have a huge hole in my foot and there is blood everywhere!"   Needless to say, I was slightly panicked when calling to check.  I was assured all was well.  Apparently she'd ran barefoot chasing after her sister, who she saw slide off a horse, and hurt her foot but was ok. 

By the next morning though, all was not well.  My sister calls, as we're headed out the door, asking if we want to meet at the house or the ER.  Apparently Tina didn't just step on something but whatever punctured her foot was in her foot - and trying to come out the other side.  Even though my sister, and husband, offered to take her, Tina wanted me there.  So despite my body's reactions, I knew I had to be.

Unfortunately, an xray can only detect so much so on Sunday nothing was found.  They dosed her up with antibiotics and gave us an appointment card to see a surgeon the next day.  But the little girl who rarely complains was in pain, scared, and breaking my heart.  She was hurting and there wasn't much I could do, except pray over her and wait for morning.

The little girl put on a brave face on the way to the doctor, but I could see the questions and worry in her eyes.  The doctor shared our concern, sending her immediately to an outpatient room and scheduling a surgery.  Stubbornly independent, she declined the wheelchair, hopping on crutches across the parking lot to check in.  It gave her a distraction from her worries, I guess.  Once settled in her room, her nervousness was confirmed, as she reached for my hand. 

That brave little girl was beyond strong, never complaining as we waited four hours for surgery, or as they tried painfully to set up her IV - twice.  The nurses bragged on her.  The other staff complimented her spirits.  And later the doctor shared the sentiments, amazed she'd walked at all, considering the three inch chunk of wood embedded in her tiny, yet infected foot.  I called her a duck on water...calm on top, paddling underneath. 

The brave-but hurting-and-still-a-bit-scared little girl smiled.

Once in the car, packed and ready to leave, her first tears of the day appeared.  In pain?  Still worried?  I ran through the list of possibilities verbally with her.  No, just the obvious...she wanted to be HOME.  Our home.  And suddenly all the stress and haunted memories of the weekend began to fade just a bit.

She's needed us this past year, just as much as we needed her.  Tina has been a beautiful distraction, as I predicted so many, many months ago.  But now I was seeing she wanted us just as much.  Was finally comfortable here... settled... feeling a part of our family she so obviously already is.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Faithful Friday: A Father's Love

I'm taking you back to previous posts, this Father's Day weekend.  Mostly because it's after 5:00 on Friday and I don't want to miss writing another Faithful Friday.  Also because these posts do a pretty good job of summing up all that Tim, my husband, is as a Dad.  (And what a blessing he is!)

Sorry for the blog-hopping.  Consider it a road trip, down our memory lane, from the comfort of your computer.  Happy Father's Day...

For Father's Day... - from Tim's first moments as a heartbreaking the loving and playful relationship Noah and Tim have now

A Father's Love - the bond that Tim and Austin had

A Private Island - a special trip Tim planned for Noah

Daddy's Boy - Noah and Tim, healing together

A Father's Love Letter

love letter
You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Father

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Gentle Giant's Big Game

When Noah's coach texted, "We have something fun planned for the kids tonight" I wasn't sure what to expect.  Whatever I thought was nothing compared to the game we had.

The night was interesting from the moment Noah entered the dugout.  A new kid was there, obviously covering for one of ours who would be out.  He looked up the mile long stretch that is Noah, mouth gaping open.

Gulping, another kid nudged him saying, "Don't worry about him he's the Gentle Giant.  Noah's scary on the outside, soft on the inside."  Yep.  That's my sweet boy!

The smaller kid now at ease, they said hellos and set to warming up.

During the second inning, the coach told Noah to take first base.  Noah did a double take, questioning him with his eyes.  "Coach 1st base, Blair."  And so he did, with a giant grin on his face.

Later he would also play first base, another first for the season. 

By the fourth inning, Coach threw the curve ball.  "Blair take the pitcher's mound!"  We all stopped and took a long pause glance between Noah and the coach.  Once we realized he wasn't joking, he hustled to the mound. 

Noah hid his emotions fairly well, after the initial disbelief.  I did manage to catch his smile, as he glanced down in his glove before his first pitch, probably pinching himself.

"Just like we practice at home!" shouted Dad. 

Someone from the crowd yelled, "You can do it Blair!"

And the rest of our family joined in building him up for his big debut.

He readied himself. 
Part intimidation.  Part gaining confidence.
His red face told Mom he was beyond nervous though.

Sucking in a big breath of confidence,
he threw.

The rest of his pitches were a good mix of balls and strikes. 

With bases loaded the pressure was on.  Only one more out needed.
Another big breath that I don't think he ever let out.
Last pitch and.....
Inning over, Whew!

Once back in the dugout and a chance to compose himself, I could tell that he was beyond happy.
And so were we.

It was a magical evening of firsts, smiles, cheers and memories.
What a game, what a night!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Plan B

I was disappointed last night.  Noah's ballgame was cancelled. 

I feared it at 2:30 when the skies opened up and dumped a torrential downpour in the yard.  I waited for the text as lightning flashed through the room.  While my itty bitty dog quivered under the covers from the thunder, I resigned myself to the fact that a cancellation was inevitable. 

Within the hour though the sun was shining again.  Birds chirping.  And although clouds lingered, no text arrived.  The game was still on!

We waited until the last minute to dress, just in the off chance the text might arrive late.  Receiving none, we headed for the ballpark decked out Phillies-style.  Juggling my normal array of lawn chairs, coolers, bat bags and bug spray, I felt a text buzz in my pocket.  I assumed it was Mom, knowing she was planning to come.

Dumping the collection with a sigh, after the careful walk to step only on gravel at the now muddy ballpark, I reached for my phone.  "30 minute delay to check the storms"  Great.  Considering we already arrive 30 minutes before the game for warm-up, this now means we'll be here an hour.  Waiting.  I send a quick text to Mom & my hubby, knowing he's rushing at work to make it anyway.

I settle in to my comfy chair while watching Noah play games with rocks.  He may be a strapping big guy but in his heart he is still the sweet, energetic little boy that could entertain himself for hours.  We're enjoying making bets whether or not his rock will hit the trash can, make it through a certain hole on the fence, etc when I notice a flurry of activity on the other side.  People are packing up.  My phone buzzes.  "Games are cancelled, rescheduled for tomorrow"  My heart sinks. 

This is his last week of games and I haven't missed a one.  Knowing I have a prior commitment the exact same time as his game deflates me.  And I can see it does him as well. 

I'm also disappointed because my family was coming to see him play and, as much as I love to watch Noah in a game, I was also looking forward to spending time with them.  I call Mom, wondering how close she is, to tell her the news.  She's very close and I feel terrible they've made the trip only to turn around.  But instead she says, "We'll just come to your house!"

My spirits are somewhat lifted, though I still can't shake the thought of missing his game.  We head home though and I set to cooking dinner for all of us.

Instantly my mood shifts, all busyness, comfort and chaos that comes when family gets together.  We're picking on each other, laughing, and the entire group moves from kitchen to deck, as I multi-task our meal.  At some point someone mentions hair, and for whatever reason my little sister decides to don the scissors.  She sets to cutting Tina's hair -in a super cute short and sassy style I've been begging her to try since she's been with us.  To my surprise Noah asks to be next.  (Noah is normally pretty picky w/his hair, telling me once when he was little I couldn't cut it because he 'wanted someone real to do it')  We get an even bigger shocker when he asks for the buzzer and goes really short, especially for him.  But they look great in the end and it saves me some money, so happy smiles all around!

Everyone gathers in the living room, bellies full and the hour of the evening soaking in.  One silly thing leads to another and we are soon rolling in the floor with laughter.  Big belly laughs.  Snorts.  Tears of joy.  I love that about family.  When you can't even describe why you're laughing or recall what was said that is so amusing.  Just being together and enjoying each other.  What a wonderful, unexpected, unplanned night!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Faithful Friday...Forgotten?!

Ok, maybe I took last week's Faithful Friday too much to heart.  I forgot everything, including writing yesterday's post! 

Actually I didn't forget, I just got too busy and didn't do it.  Life got in the way.

4“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.” Interlude

While I could spout excuses...this week was the launch of the new program I've been working on for months, Mom's taxi service has been running kids here and there, baseball games and fire meetings, Relay For Life...and church.  Does God excuse our busyness when it's still related to him?  My Wednesday nights are again filled, as I'm helping in Missions.  And we have Lifegroup tonight, for which I've spent time shopping and cooking.

6 We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing.
We heap up wealth,
not knowing who will spend it.

My days are filled with work, every evening busy, and even if I used the "God excuse" for some of my week, it doesn't change things.  The fact of the matter is, I haven't made time for Him.  Not the one on one time that my soul longs for.  I haven't found time to Be Still this week and I've longed for rest that only He can provide.

7 And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you. - Psalm 39:4-10 - (NLT)

The amazing thing is that He is always there, accepting us even when we fail.  He yearns to spend time with us, exclusively, just as we do Him.  And so as much as my body aches from the busyness of the week, I know exactly how and where to find the calm relief I need. 

If your week has sounded a lot like mine, find your tranquility with Him...

Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”        - Mark 6:31

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Butterfly to Eagle

My boy is sending me eagles.  By the dozens. 

In the past month, I've seen more eagles than maybe my entire life.  They're literally in the sky every time I glance up.  Every time it's like Austin is smiling down and I'm filled with a sense of peace. 
I think Austin is sending me a message that he's an eagle now.

Eagles are everywhere...and butterflies seem sparse.  Butterflies have been the way Austin's sent me signs, or hugs from above, since the beginning.  Those butterflies always come at the perfect moment and so often have almost taken my breath away at their timing.  He's even sent me butterflies in snow.

They truly have been little blessings and I'm grateful for every peek we're sent from Heaven.  Especially with losing a child, what you want and yearn for most is just to see them again.  To know they're ok.  To hug them.  Those butterflies have been my hello hug from my sweet boy and lifts my spirits with every flutter of their wings.

I miss not seeing them as much but I'm awestruck at his new way of waving to me.  I say that but then he sent me both at the same time today.  As I'm looking up at a majestic eagle soaring in the sky, I glance down just in time to catch a glimpse of yellow...a happy little butterfly.  I laughed out loud and said, "Yes, Austin, I see you!  And I love & miss you too!"

It's fitting he's sending me eagles now.  His class just month would've been his 18th birthday.  Strong, carefree, protecting, peaceful, Heavenward.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grandpa Hugs

The scent of soybeans.  Warm.  Comforting.  My Grandpa Coons.

I happened to take a turn on a road last week that led me down memory lane.  When the aroma hit my nose, I was suddenly taken back to my childhood. 

It's Sunday morning and we're in the car.  Grandpa at the wheel, Grandma at his side.  My sister and I in the back.  We're wearing dresses and our Grandma's shoes.  She had the same size foot as us and we were amazed at her vast "collection" which hung on a rack on the back of the door.  Our hair is squeaky clean and brushed, held back with barrettes.  I'm holding my white, Precious Moments Bible, given to me by my grandparents.  We are on our way to church, where Grandpa preaches.

In that moment, alone in my car, yet filled with memories from a single scent, I was given a Grandpa hug.  In mere seconds so many fond moments of my childhood with him came flooding back.  I remembered Sundays spent traveling that road with him to church.  Listening to my sweet Grandpa share about the love of Jesus - and how you could see that love just by watching him smile.  Remembering his suits, and how he'd always let me pick out his tie to match.  And what a treat it was to go out as a family after service to have lunch.  But more than anything, that smile.  Grandpa could hug you with his smile.  It was a blessing to have that memory on an unexpected Friday afternoon all from the scent of soybeans.

Today was bittersweet.  A big day for our new church, a celebration and a coming together as one.  Both services were combined today, as many members shared their testimony on a video shown to the congregation.  I wrote last week about sharing our testimony and how difficult, yet helpful, that was.  As much as I wanted to be there today, I did worry that seeing (and reliving) those moments would be painful.  I worried how Noah would respond hearing it.  But I knew my church family was there to support us, and more than anything, knew the story needed to be shared for others to hear.  And although tears did again fall, it was a blessing.

Prior to the service, as we were greeting each other, a man shook my hand and it was as if I was looking into my Grandpa's face.  Grandpa McGuffin, my mom's dad.  With distinct McGuffin traits, this man shared my Grandpa's strong nose, his ears, his frame and his strong grip.  And he shared the twinkle in his eye that was like looking into laughter.  I probably held his hand a bit longer than he was comfortable and I felt myself glancing up at him throughout the service.  During the potluck, as I returned with a shared desert plate for Tim and me, I found him in my seat.  He was talking to a man in front of us but it gave me a chance to ask if he was perhaps related to me.  We shared a chuckle and he told me a story of another woman who'd asked him that (and I'm wondering if it was a member of my family now) because he looked like someone they knew.  While I didn't find a distant relative, I did receive another Grandpa hug from the moment.

A weekend bookended by Grandpa hugs.  Pretty special indeed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Faithful Friday: Forgiveness

You know the saying, "it's easier to forgive than forget?"  Personally, I couldn't find that to be more true.  Yet, if I'm honest with myself, I know you can't really forgive someone until you also decide to forget it.  That's true forgiveness. 

But it's sometimes easier said than done.

I'd say forgiving is an obvious weakness of mine.  Or rather, the ability to forget past wrongs done to me.  I hold it in, carry it around, and it doesn't hurt anyone but me.  Perhaps they feel the distance I create because I haven't moved on from whatever they did which caused me pain.  But the hoarding of resentment, hurt feelings, and other wrongs just weighs down the person carrying them.

I know all of this.  And yet it still difficult to let go of certain things.  Especially if it's regarding Austin. 

Perhaps it's the added and increased emotions surrounding him but I find it hard, if not impossible, to forget hurts caused since his death.  More than anything it is what someone didn't do, rather than what they did.  Maybe they didn't reach out as I'd expected, or call when I really needed it, or respond in a way I wished.  Maybe I was disappointed by what seems a lack of concern, especially when others (sometimes strangers) have gone out of their way to show support.  In many cases their lack of response seemed like ignoring me and my pain.  Whatever the wrong, it's effected the way I feel about that person.  The hurt seems almost tangible and the relationship forever changed.

I know it shouldn't matter.  I certainly have enough other concerns that I could focus my attention.  And I know - and feel - what it does it me when I hold a grudge.  When you store up pain, like sweeping problems under the rug, they never go away.  Eventually that lumpy rug trips you.

God has really been tugging on me the past few weeks.  Signs have been everywhere.  First it was a gentle whisper.  Now, it seems he's yelling to me.  Yes, aside from not easily forgetting, I am also pretty stubborn.  But, I know it's time for me to move on...forget - and truly forgive. Whoever and whatever has been done is the past. 

Even though it isn't easy, I just remind myself that God never hesitates in forgiving me.  He forgets all the wrongs I've done, just because he loves me.  How amazing is that? 

I know the joy that comes when forgiveness is given.  So help me take a collective deep breath, pray for one another, and let's all forgive someone (and forget the wrong) today.

Be kind and compassionate to one another,  
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
-Ephesians 4:32
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 photo design by_zpsv1mvteci.png