This picture says more than just Bill reading the Christmas story. It shows how our lives have changed in the last two and a half years. There are Duplo Legos on the floor under his chair and an open Easter egg at his feet. ( I have no idea why!) Beside him on the table is a pacifier. It is pink so that means it goes to Marissa's baby doll. Beside him is Tim, Will's stuffed penguin, reading the Christmas story along with him!
After a rough month of wondering if anyone remembered Amy, each of my children gave me a memory of her. Emily gave me butterfly earrings, Tessa gave me a bracelet that says Amy on it, and Laura gave me a kitchen towel set with butterflies and a calendar with a different butterfly on each month. A dear friend at church the week before had also shared a memory she had of Amy and how her family remembers her each Christmas because of it. Thank you for speaking her name, even though it brought tears. Thank you for remembering her.
I have a favorite photo of Amy's last Christmas with us. It was taken in the light of our advent candles. We would try to burn a candle every night up till Christmas Eve when all of them were lit.
Emily wanted me to put up the candles this year and I just looked at her and said, "What for? I haven't put them up for the last three years." It was a few days before Christmas and I had finally gotten the dining room table cleaned off from craft making and Christmas wrappings. I could tell she was a little upset (a mother can always tell) and so the next day when she was at work I put the table cloth on and set up the advent wreath of candles. I cried many tears with each candle I put in, knowing that the last time I did this Amy was still here. We lit them before the Christmas meal and sometime during dinner I glanced up and this was the view I saw. Marissa Amy and little Micah in the light of the candles. I used Tessa's camera to get the picture so I wasn't focusing right, but it is still dear to my heart. God knew I needed to see it this way. He knew. He was telling me, "Look at the blessings you have! Think on the future, not the past."
I received a few presents, too, in memory of Daddy. Emily made me a cutting board that says "We thank Thee, Lord, for the necessities of life...." When I was little Daddy would always say the same sentence in his prayers and it was about partaking of the necessities of life. I really didn't understand until I was older that he was thankful for the daily necessities that most of us take for granted. It is now a constant reminder in my kitchen to be thankful.
James and Laura commissioned a painting to be done with the artist who painted Amy's closet door with a scene of butterflies, an arbor, flowers and a fairy in her bedroom (our bedroom now). This was what they commissioned. This was what I unwrapped. I thought my heart was breaking once again.
That's my Daddy walking through his beloved fields of corn. Walking into the rays of the sun. Going Home.
O how I miss that mighty man of God. He stood for everything that is true, and honest, and just, and pure, and lovely in this world.
I struggle with words. I am not a natural born writer and many of these blogs have taken hours to write as I try to make sure my grammar, spelling and sentence structure are correct. I knew there would be others reading this although I never dreamed I would touch people in foreign countries. Even though I haven't written a post since Oct. in the last 30 days there have been over 100 views from Asia, Europe and South America. I don't say that to brag. I say that to state that what I am writing now is mostly for those out there who don't know me very well and if you are friends or my family, I hope you can see my heart in this and not take offense.
The last few months have been really hard. After my visit to my Mama in Oct. I seemed to struggle more with grief. Then the first anniversary of my Daddy's death came and I remembered all the details of the last two weeks of his life that I was able to spend with him and the following week of the funeral. There were so many heartaches that week and in the weeks to come with my family that I have tried to forget. But it has put a distance between my sisters and myself. As time has passed and the political climate has changed I decided to remain silent, especially when I read this verse from Amos 5:13, "Therefore at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time." Even though we don't agree, I love them and do not hate them or their families. Disagreement is not the same thing as hate.
This past November, in my own immediate family a horrible misunderstanding occurred. Angry words were spoken, tears were shed, I asked for an apology and it was given but with more hurtful words said, and distance came between us. I was willing to talk- to hash things out- but they chose to not talk about the situation and just move on.
And so we have.
At that same time I fractured a rib and was in a lot of physical pain for a few weeks and the emotional pain just added to it.
During the last year and especially these last few months God has taught me much. I always thought my family would be there for me. He has taken me through the loss of a sister, mother and father-in-law, a precious daughter and then my sweet Daddy. Someday I may lose others before He decides to take me home to Him. But I have learned that I only need Him. He and He alone is what I need to be complete and whole. My family adds to my joy (and sometimes sorrow) but I cannot live my life for them. I can only live it for Jesus and do what He tells me is best for me, not what others think is best for me. God is writing my story and He isn't revealing that story to others, whether it be my children, sisters, or friends.
So to all of you out there, I don't know your stories. What I am trying to convey to you is that even if you have no family or don't have a relationship with your family, you can still have joy and be content if you have Jesus. He is all you need.
"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me."
My word for the year is JOY.
Thank you for reading my blog. Being able to share God's Word is one way I have joy.