Saturday, September 3, 2016

Vacations

Almost every summer since I can remember, we have taken a vacation. Daddy was a hard working farmer, but he loved to travel and spend time with his family so we would try to go somewhere each summer. Sometimes it was to visit family in other states or travel to interesting sights within our own state.  The first vacation I can remember was to the Black Hills in South Dakota when I was 4. We stayed in a little camper and I loved it. The summer I turned 18 I was working in the concessions at Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. I had just graduated from high school and was living in a dorm with other girls working there and that was the summer I met my future husband, Bill.
 When Bill and I got married we were too poor to travel much. Our first family vacation was when Amy was about 3 and we took a long weekend and went to Niagara Falls. I'll never forget the raincoats that Tessa and Amy had to wear to go 'under' the waterfalls. Amy's almost touched the ground and the sleeves were rolled up so many times her arms stuck out!  Then when Emily was 2 we went to Chincoteague Island in Virginia and we started taking vacations every year after that. Even though we had to save those dollars and sometimes do without the rest of the year we always 'got away' for awhile and Amy was always included. She was very small and easy to carry and we were young and full of energy ourselves. As the years passed it got harder. We took most of our vacations in September as we homeschooled and the crowds weren't as heavy then. Too soon Tessa went to college and we had one less on our family vacations. Then Emily left and then James. Our last 'vacation' as a complete family was to James' wedding in Montana. Although we all made our way there separately we stayed in a rental house for a few days together. 
On that trip Bill, Amy, and I started a new chapter in our lives as we journeyed out there together.  We took a few more vacations together, just the three of us. We visited Emily in South Carolina when she was in college, a wedding in South Dakota, my sister and her family in Maine, and then Amy died........
Last week Bill and I rented a yurt at a local state park for 3 nights. Bill, Emily and I stayed overnight and the rest of the family joined as much as work allowed them to. We were close enough for them to go home to sleep, making it easier for the little ones. We had extended family come one day and  dear "like family" friends visit two other days. Our last night there it was just us, Bill and I and our children and their children. But I felt like something was missing. Someone. We were a complete family, but one of my children was not there. It just didn't feel right. James brought his guitar and we sat around the campfire and sang. The little ones started bouncing and dancing to the music and my heart broke......
I was overcome with grief of missing my dear sweet precious Amy. She would have loved to be there with us. My oldest tried to comfort me and tell me she was there. But I couldn't see her or hold her. I miss her so much.....
Whether James planned to sing the song, "I am Free" or if it was just the next one in his book, I don't know. But I do know that God had it planned. This was one of the songs that was sung at Amy's funeral. The Associate Pastor, Laura and I sang it.

"I Am Free"
Through You the blind will see
Through You the mute will sing
Through You the dead will rise
Through You all hearts will praise
Through You the darkness flees
Through You my heart screams
I am free
Yes, I am free

I AM FREE TO RUN
(I AM FREE TO RUN)
I AM FREE TO DANCE
(I AM FREE TO DANCE)
I AM FREE TO LIVE FOR YOU
(I AM FREE TO LIVE FOR YOU)
I AM FREE
(I AM FREE)
YES I AM FREE
(I AM FREE)

Through You the kingdom comes
Through You the battle's won
Through You I'm not afraid
Through You the price is paid
Through You there's victory
Because of You my heart sings
I am free
Yes, I am free

I AM FREE TO RUN
(I AM FREE TO RUN)
I AM FREE TO DANCE
(I AM FREE TO DANCE)
I AM FREE TO LIVE FOR YOU
(I AM FREE TO LIVE FOR YOU)
I AM FREE
(I AM FREE)
YES I AM FREE
(I AM FREE)


Amy is free because of the You in this song, she can run and dance and sing. The You is Jesus. He has taken away her limitations of this earth and has truly set her free. I looked around at my husband, my three children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law and my three sweet grandchildren. How could I not feel blessed? And because of Jesus, our family will be complete again.
Beautiful views of the lake and mountains.

Looking up through the ceiling in the yurt.

No running water, but microwave, stove top, and full size fridge.
Room enough for six at the table, but we always ate outside.

A double bunk on the bottom and single on the top
Single bunk beds

We had a huge area for the kids to play.

Our Yurt.
In a little over a week, Bill and I will be taking our own vacation. To the first place I can remember that was 'vacation' to me, where 40 years ago this summer Bill and I met and fell in love. The Black Hills of South Dakota.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

God's Whispers

"When He Who was, Who is, and Who is to come sees each one of us, He sees who we were, who we are, and who we will become."  from Mercy Triumphs, a study of James by Beth Moore

Today is my 58th birthday.
I have been thinking a lot the past weeks on being a parent and losing a child and being a child and losing a parent and just parenting in general.

I have heard it said that when you lose a child you lose your future and when you lose a parent you lose your past. There have been many times I have wanted to ask Daddy something about his past and then I realize that the opportunity to learn anything else about his life is gone. I have my memories but I have no way to access his anymore. He didn't write much down once he married and started a family. That is why I treasure my copy of his journal from his time in Poland when he was 16 and my copies of the letters that he wrote home to his parents from the war in Korea when he was in his early 20's.  I have very few letters I kept from him over the years, because I'm not a keeper of "things".  I guess I never thought I would miss his words because I thought I would always have him.
When I "lost" Amy I didn't feel like I lost my future. Amy would never have gone to college, left home, married, or given me grandchildren. Amy was my present. I lost my present way of life when I lost Amy. And for quite a long time after she died I was lost also.

C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers in our pleasures but shouts in our pain." If it wasn't for God shouting at me, I think I would have stayed lost. Recently I have felt His whispers.

We were given Amy's burial plot by Bill's cousins when she died. We were so thankful for it as it is right beside Bill's parent's grave. Daddy had all his funeral and burial plans done ahead of time. He even had the tombstone in the ground. Ever since Daddy died I have wanted to make sure we can get plots in the same cemetery and if possible the empty spot beside Amy. I know it doesn't matter where ones body is put in the ground. But, oh, how it seems important to me to rest beside my daughter until we are raised for all eternity!  A few weeks ago we got a letter in the mail from Bill's cousin telling us that the lot that was given to us to bury Amy contained 4 burial plots! I felt God's whisper, "I care about the little things that are important to you."

I have been watching Marissa Amy for a year now. Anywhere from 2 to 4 days a week (about 8 hours a day) depending on her Mommy's busy schedule. She has grown from a smiley 3 month old to a very energetic, babbling, laughing 15 month old! Around the first of the year I was determined to get Mari to sleep on her own in the crib. I was rocking her to sleep and then holding her while she slept as she would always wake up when I put her down. After a week of failed attempts and many tears (mine and hers), I heard God whisper, "Just hold her, lay down with her, take a nap yourself." So I did and have continued to do so. Just the last few weeks, I have started to lay her on the bed beside me instead of holding her. The first time I did this I couldn't keep the tears in as I realized this is what I would do with Amy and in the very same room that Daddy had built for her 15 years ago. (It is now our bedroom.) I would cuddle up beside Amy in her bed and talk to her, read, just watch her sleep and  sometimes fall asleep myself. Another of God's whispers, "I'm restoring some of what you miss most."

I always rock Mari to sleep and sing to her. We start off with "Jesus Loves Me" but I change the words to "Jesus loves Mari for the Bible tells Grandma so". Then I usually sing "Trust and Obey" always a good song for little ones to learn. If she's not asleep yet I move on to other old hymns. I grew up singing hymns and the church we have attended since we have been married didn't start singing worship songs until abou  t 12-15 years ago. So my mind turns to hymns as I rock her because that is what I sang my babies to sleep with. Lately I have been singing  "In The Garden." Last Sunday Tessa played it for offertory, not even knowing that I have been singing it to her daughter almost every day! Another whisper from God, "There are no coincidences. You are my own child."

That same Sunday, Mari wore a dress I made for Amy.

I made this for Amy when she was three on her first day of preschool.
Tessa likes to wear Mari's dresses longer than I did for Amy.


God has given me such a gift in caring for Mari. Even though I get tired at times, He gives me strength and He knew I would need this little one to take care of.

Being a grandma is so much different than being a mom.
My youngest, James, gave me my first grandchild almost 2 years ago. He and his wife are still in their 20's.
My oldest daughter, Tessa, had Mari when she was 35 years old. 
I had all my babies in the 1980's so when I was 35 years old Contessa was 13, Amy was 11, Emily was 7 and James was 4.
There are many different ways to parent and raise a child and I have been realizing that my ways might have been right for me at that time but they are not the only way!

Again God whispers, "Enjoy this time, love on those sweet babies, they will not be babies forever!"


Here are the words to "In the Garden." As I reflect on them it has a new meaning for me more than it did in the past. My 'garden' is the time I spend in studying God's Word. I am presently in the middle of a study on the book of James. God is whispering new things to me each passing day.


In The Garden

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.

Chorus:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Verse 2
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me,

Within my heart is ringing.
Chorus:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

Verse 3
I'd stay in the garden with Him,
Tho' the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go, thro' the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.

Chorus:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

Here are some recent pictures of my family.