Thursday, June 15, 2017

Forty Years

This Sunday Bill and I will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of our wedding day. We were married on my daddy's  forty-seventh birthday.  As it has in the past,  this year it falls on Fathers Day also. Sunday will be a day full of memories for us. Both of our fathers are gone. Bill is now the patriarch of our family.
How could forty years have passed by so quickly? I was 18, Bill 26. So young and na├»ve. I have heard that many couples divorce when they have a special needs child as it is such a strain on the marriage. Amy did put more pressure on our marriage and we did have problems. But we worked through them and our marriage grew stronger.
I have also heard the same is true when a child dies. Amy's death has only strengthened us, though. Not because she was so precious (she was), not because our family has rallied around us and helped us grieve (they have), and not because our church family was always there for us [they were]. Those things are wonderful and good,  but only because we know Who our strength is and Who we go to in times of trials have we become stronger.
I thought that Amy's life and death would have been enough for any family to handle, but Bill and I have both had to struggle with issues in our extended family also. So we go to our Lord and He helps us through and gives us strength, comfort and wisdom on how to handle things.
This past year has brought even more challenges. Our church has always been our life. Our kids were involved in every aspect of it as they were growing up. They have made life long friends their own ages and also older ones who have been godly examples for them and they now are part of our 'family.' My kids all serve in some capacity in our church and so do Bill and I. We always have. It has been our extended family for forty years. Amy was always welcomed, always loved. This past year has been our biggest trial yet. We are trusting in God to give us wisdom, strength and to follow His leading in our lives. Right now we do not know what that will bring. But .......... God does. He knew this was going to happen. He knew the trials we would be facing, He knows what the future will bring to us. We are just called to trust and have faith in His perfect will.
This again has strengthened our marriage more so than the other trials in our life we have gone through. Is that surprising to you? It has been to me. We have been continually drawn to prayer, to study God's Word, and discuss the situations, and drawn to prayer again and again. As I have mentioned before, Bill is a man of few words. We have talked more about spiritual things in the last year than we have in the other 39 of our marriage. Trials always produce something. Even though I do not enjoy going through this time and have many questions of why, I am thankful that He has drawn Bill and I together through this.
I started a new Bible Study today. It is called, "Entrusted, a study of 2 Timothy" by Beth Moore. I have done a few  of her studies before and with each one I am amazed at what God teaches me. This verse jumped out to me today. It's from Acts 13 (the first lesson is background to 2 Timothy). So in Acts 13 Paul and Barnabas are being persecuted for preaching the Word and they have been driven out of the city. So what did they do? Verses 51 and 52, "But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconim. And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit." They were filled with JOY! JOY? After all their trials? JOY. Yes they were filled with joy. I, too, can be filled with joy even through the trials. Especially through the trials.
So how to handle the memories that will come this weekend?
Bill and I are leaving in the morning for Niagara Falls to stay in an inn, a B&B on the shores of Lake Ontario. Our very first vacation with Amy was to Niagara Falls. She was only 3 years and Tessa was 5 years. Emily and James were yet to be born. We had a wonderful time. I have good memories of that vacation.
The next four days will, I'm sure, have some tears, but mostly I hope joy.  JOY because I know that God is in control of every detail of our lives. From the aches and pains of getting older to the stress that comes from jobs and relationships with others. God is in control. That brings joy.

The only photo I have of our time 32 years ago.

And I almost forgot, we're going to be grandparents again. That little 5 year old in the photo is going to have another baby in December. More blessings, more JOY.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dancing In The Rain

February came and went; we all were sick, even the grandkids. March came in like a lion and Bill flew off to Andros Island in the Bahamas again for a week to do some ministry, working on buildings repairs after the hurricane last fall.
Amy would have been 35 years old on the 9th of March. The 'girls' (my two daughters and daughter-in-law) and I celebrated Amy's birthday with a spa day. We each got a massage, Laura and Tess a pedicure, I got a manicure and Emily got the works- a pedicure, her make up and hair done.  It was a nice fun day to remember Amy.

As the month of March progressed I tried my best to not remember the events of 4 years ago. But my depression deepened and I think I was at my lowest ever on the anniversary of the day Amy died, April 8th.  We once again gathered at the cemetery to release a balloon for each of us. Last year newborn Micah stayed in the van because it was so cold. It was a little nippy this year also, but the sun was shining and the flowers were blooming. Although I felt like I was in darkness. I tried to focus on my children faces. And the grandchildren. They were so happy. They wandered around the cemetery. So innocent, unharmed by reality of life.

After wards I took a drive by myself and went to our local state park and enjoyed nature and prayed. I drove by the fruit orchards and inhaled the fragrance of the blossoms and I prayed. I prayed for wisdom, I prayed for joy. I tried not to dwell on four years ago and tried not to think about the new sorrows and grief I had experienced in the last year and a half since Daddy died. But instead I tried to remember the happy things that had happened this last month.
We celebrated Micah's first birthday and Marissa Amy's second birthday.

And...... after a pretty snowless winter, it snowed in early spring!

I received a few cards, messages and one long letter from friends, telling me they were thinking of me. My mom and sister sent me some butterfly items in memory of Amy.   I felt like the darkness had lifted. Then Easter came, just a week later. I made an Easter egg tree. I've made one every year since we were married, except for the last four years.
 I discovered that one of the four cacti that my sister potted up for me (that were Daddy's and came from the farm) had sprouted and grown a new shoot. I was about to give up on them as it has been so long. But there was new life in at least one of them. I felt like it was a small miracle, God sending me a message. 

I made Easter Egg Baskets for the grandkids, and we had an egg hunt.

Matthew 21:15 &16  "But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?”

PRAISE. It is the least I can do for my Lord for all He has done for me. 

One of my favorite songs, "In Christ Alone."

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

As I was taking pictures of the cactus, I reread the saying on the stone that Tessa gave to me after Amy died. "Life isn't waiting for the storm to pass, it's learning to dance in the rain."
The darkness in every storm eventually passes but I don't want to feel like I'm drowning anymore. I want to stand in the power of Christ. Till He returns or calls me home. But I want to do more than just stand. I want to dance.