Saturday, December 23, 2017

Joy Runs Deeper Than Despair

Christmas..... Amy loved Christmas, the tree, the celebrations, the gifts, and the lights. Especially the lights and she would look and look at them. We always put up a strand of lights in her room, too. I wonder what kind of lights and colors she is seeing now? What kind of birthday celebration do they have in heaven for the Son of God? The very Reason there is a Christmas. The very Reason that she is now in heaven! 

I wasn't going to decorate much this year as the new baby was coming. I was busy making presents and we were having our Christmas on the 15th- early, as families were traveling. "Just put up lights and the tree," I told myself, but I got carried away and did a lot! This month has been so crazy with my emotions. One day I'll be crying, remembering the past, and the next day singing along to carols while I go about my work. The Christmas season brings so many memories; my grief is still very great at times. But the joy! Oh, the joy this season has been wonderful! 

We welcomed Samuel Bradley into the world on December 8. No longer does the 8th bring pain, but only joy. He was such a tiny little thing but is growing so fast!
The day before we celebrated Christmas, we woke up to this! So we had a white Christmas this year. 
We celebrated with the family when Samuel was only a week old. It was the kids idea to keep things simple since I went all out for Thanksgiving. The first photo is Thanksgiving. The next three are Christmas.

My flowers bloomed that I forced from October bulbs. We had paper plates and pizza, chips, some fruit, and of course Jesus Birthday Cake (the only baking I did this year) and Laura brought a plate of  pretty Christmas cookies. 
This was the fun present I got for the "boys" this years.

The next Sunday evening we visited a church where our retired pastor and his wife attend. Our associate pastor and his family attend there now also. They had an evening of music for Christmas and I was able to hear  "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" one of my favorite Christmas songs. Special memories.

Our greatest joy this season included Sunday morning worship. Our children had visited this one church for a few weeks and they kept encouraging us to come. But we had the idea to visit a lot of local churches first and this one is about half an hour away, just over the county line. But Bill and I were getting weary; visiting local churches always brought someone from our past and they'd want to know why we were looking for a new church. We were tired of so many small churches and we just wanted to put the past behind us, be uplifted, and move on. 
Our first Sunday there, before the service started, a man came up shook Bill's hand and said he was Pastor___.  Bill said, "So you're the head honcho." The Pastor shook his head and said, "No. I'm part of a team of pastors."  Later we found out he was the head pastor, but obviously a very humble man.  Even though the church is in the middle of a small town in a farming community, we saw a mixed congregation of ages, abilities, and race. What a joy that was to me! The music was so great as the worship director really feels what he is singing. He has the passion for music that our associate pastor had at our old church and I have missed hearing and seeing that passion for the last 4 months. We've experienced everything from formal choirs with a small orchestra, to a contemporary band with guitars and drums in the three Sundays we have been there. They sing a mixture of hymns and new songs. I was moved to tears last week when I saw two men in front of us raising their hands in worship as they sang. Just a few minutes before the service started they were talking to each other about hunting. The people have been so very friendly to us. Last Sunday the greeter at the door remembered our names, as did others we talked to! This was only our third time there! This is not because it is a small church; they average 400-500 every week. 
They  have a team of pastors and they take turns preaching. We have heard three different pastors in the three times we have attended. God spoke to my heart each time through His word.  The first message we heard was on contentment. "Contentment increases as we view our lives in the light of eternity." The second was on saying yes to God (as Mary did). "For when I am weak, then I am strong." and "I am not my own." Last week the youth pastor spoke. He's younger and so 'real' and funny. "We misinterpret what God says and we say things that God never said and we try to make God in our image. Joseph (Mary's Joseph)obeyed God. It wasn't easy for him, but he did it." So it is for me. Obedience isn't easy and following God is hard, but He is always there to help me because He has walked a harder road than I have or ever will.  "We celebrate the baby Jesus to prepare for His second coming. Will Jesus find us obedient when He comes?"  
They are a church that has an mission/outreach emphasis. This is so important to us to find a church that cares about the community around them and the needs of the whole world. Every Sunday they pray for a different church in the community, two Sundays they shared mission trip reports, and they help an orphanage in a foreign country. I'm sure there is more we don't know about yet.
We have not attended the Adult Bible Fellowship (Sunday School), but they are starting a 6 week grief support class the first of the year during ABF and we signed up for it.
I have been moved to tears at every single service. It just feels so good to be there. God has given us peace and joy. 
The final closing song we sang last week was one I had been taught quite a few years ago by someone very special to me. 

 Before The Throne of God
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One with Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

I read a quote by Corrie ten Boom that says exactly what my last month and this past year has been like for me. 
"Joy runs deeper than despair."
So as we close out this year, my year of joy, I will not fight my tears anymore. Tears are cleansing, despair will come because I'm still mourning the loss of Amy, my Daddy, and my church friends, but I know that my joy runs deeper because of Jesus. 

Amy has been gone 4 years. As I write this, the tears come.
God has given me four new little people in that time.
My arms aren't empty anymore. Merry Christmas everyone!

Samuel, yesterday, two weeks old.

As I was sorting through photos this week I came across this one.
Daddy and Mama waving goodbye as we drove away in 2013.
Our first visit to the farm without Amy.
So as 2017 soon comes to a close I won't say,
"Happy New Year" because I have learned sometimes happiness
is fleeting. I will say, "I hope you are blessed as you walk with the
Lord and find the peace and JOY that only He can bring." 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Always Winter But........ Always Christmas

The last few months have flown by and we have been busy! We have had our first snowflakes and our wood burner is running as cold weather has set in, so winter is right around the corner. 

Bill and I were able to get away for a week in early October with some dear friends as we traveled to New England and enjoyed the beautiful colors up there and especially enjoyed their fellowship. We met over 40 years ago and stay in touch across the miles as they live 5 states away to the west. 
In late October Bill had a birthday and we surprised him with a side by side. It's kind of like a golf cart with the power of a four wheeler. He had told me that they were for "old" people and that he wouldn't need one until he was in his 80's! Well I think he is enjoying it now, in his 60's! (I need to get a picture in the daylight!)
Halloween came and of course I got a few pictures of the boys. Will was a hunter and Micah was a deer. 

The little deer riding the Deere!
Although I didn't get a picture of Mari in her costume, I did get a picture of her after our little "school" last week. We have been studying creation for about two months and have had a lot of fun. 
On our last day I allowed her to tell ME the creation story and put on all the pieces by herself. She loves the flannel graph!

We started our Christmas unit this week and I asked her if she knew that there was a very important birthday coming up and she said very excitedly, "Baby Sammy!"  Yes, that has been the most exciting thing for her right now as she will soon  be a big sister to a real live baby. Samuel is expected to arrive in just a few weeks, that's why I started the Christmas stories early with Marissa as Tess will be on maternity leave and I won't be babysitting very much. Although I think I might have to go steal her for a few days now and then! 

Bill and I have been visiting a different church every week. God has been speaking to us as we hear His word preached and through the music as we worship. We have been to churches of a few hundred down to churches of around 20. We have been to churches that sing only hymns, mixture of hymns and contemporary music, and only contemporary. We have been stretched by churches that do things differently than we have done. Churches with liturgy, prayers that are read with congregation responses, and the cross and Bible displayed, held high and revered (I was in awe). We have felt content, waiting on the Lord to direct us to where He wants us to go. Last week we went to a very small church and the Pastor was so compassionate. He talked to us after the service and said he could tell we were hurting and asked Bill if he could give him a hug. That brought tears to both of us. We were hurting, it had been a hard week. We were told that our family had been kicked off the prayer chain at the church where we had attended for 40 years and are still members of.  I always thought prayer was something that was welcomed, but I guess not everyone thinks so. I will continue to pray for those who attend that church. We feel we did what God was telling us to do when we exposed the evil. We did it because we love the people in the church. If we didn't care about them we just would have quietly left a year ago. It has been hard, but is the Christian life supposed to be easy? This past month God has been teaching me to forgive and to love as I have studied 2 Corinthians. I have never felt a connection with Paul before as I did in this study. It was an affirmation that we did the right thing. I praise God and am so thankful for giving us His words in the Bible to show us how to live. 

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of my fathers passing. I remember the details of each day of his last few days like it was just yesterday. His last day on earth I can recall every hour, maybe every minute of that day! I was with my mother-in-law until just a few hours before she died, and I had the privilege of being with Amy and Daddy in their last days, hours, minutes, and the very second they passed from my arms to Jesus' arms.  It is a beautiful thing, but yet gut-wrenching at the same time. I miss them both so much.  I cry often, but not as much as I used to. The grief comes and goes.  There are so many constant reminders of their lives and the holes they each left in my life.
My favorite picture of Daddy and Amy
But there are constant blessings also, if I just look for them.
My husband, children, and grandchildren.
The beauty of nature always takes my breath away.
Music can touch my soul.
A good book, a warm cup of tea.
The list can go on and on.

I have always been a fan of CS Lewis and Amy loved listening to the "Chronicles of Narnia" audio tapes from Focus on the Family. She listened to them so many times and was listening to them again the days before she left us. I have not listened to them since.... 
Until a few days ago...... I decided to listen to "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe." For years and years Narnia always has winter and never Christmas; until Aslan comes and the snow starts to melt and the birds start to sing and Father Christmas comes with presents. Aslan is a allegory for Christ. It occurred to me that if we truly are following Christ, we will always have winter (trials and sorrow in our life), BUT we will always have Christmas, the celebration of the birth of our Savior!  Always winter, but the seasons will cycle, spring, summer, fall and winter again. Jesus is with us through each season in our life. 
I love living in this part of the world that has the different seasons. Fall has always been my favorite. In my last blog I shared about planting bulbs at Amy's grave, in her little garden area in our yard and in a pot inside to force for blooms for Christmas. Well I planted them when the package suggested for our area, but we had an unusual warm fall and a few of the bulbs started to grow and even produced buds. We have had a few nights of frost, but the buds survived. One night last week it was to get down in the teens so I cut off the buds and brought them in. The last few days they have turned into beautiful blooms and smell wonderful!

Another blessing to have spring flowers in November.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Held in His Arms

I planted some paperwhite narcissus bulbs at Amy's grave a few days ago. They are my favorite spring flower. I first became aware of them because we had a few bulbs hidden among the creeping groundcover on the bank beside the road. They bloomed less and less as the years went by and I realized that the ground cover was choking them, instead of letting the bulbs flourish underneath the soil. So I tried to dig them up and transplant them but I must have not done it correctly because they died. About a month ago my sweet daughter in law noticed the bulbs at a garden center and knowing I like them, pointed them out to me. I bought about a dozen and planted a few at Amy's grave, a few in her little garden area outside our bedroom window, and a few in a pot in the fridge to force bloom for Christmas. 
Certain flowers have special meaning to me. My wedding was all daisies and baby's breath. Daisies grow wild here, but they are small, so I have some larger varieties planted. I can't seem to grow baby's breath. Lupines remind me of our wonderful times in Maine and mine flourish in my raised garden beds.  My sister, Erin, liked nasturtiums, so I always plant them every year in her memory. Even though they aren't the "creeping" variety, they did their best this year to escape the garden bed. 
My parents always grew morning glories outside their back door on the farm in Iowa. They would come up every year, which always baffled me because I had to plant mine every year and Iowa winters are more harsh than ours. Then Mama gave me seeds one year from her plants and they grew and they came back on their own the next spring! They must be a special kind of morning glory! I had planted them around the base of the swing set, and each year they would come back and climb up the ladder with some support from me. I would save some seeds and tried planting them in different areas, but they wouldn't grow well and never came back on their own like they did by the swing set. 
When Daddy died in 2015 and the farm was to be sold, I knew my chance of ever getting anymore seeds was gone. I saved all the seeds I could that year and planted some for Mama in Maine when Emily and I visited last fall. This past spring we pulled up the old swing set and put in a deluxe 'castle' playset. The area where all the morning glories were was dug up and grass was planted there. I searched for an area that might work for the seeds to be planted and finally decided to plant them around an old garden bench that was used for decoration to hold birdhouses. It took a long time for them to grow, but when they finally started they took over the whole bench!
There's a bench under there! And below is a close-up of one of the little birdhouses Daddy and Mama made sitting hidden on the bench. The little sign Mama painted on the house says, "For Rent."
It has been so dry the last few weeks, and fall is now here so I thought I should get some pictures of them soon.
I planted those seeds around that bench, but God planted others that were such a blessing to me. 
 By our back door.

 By the foundation of my garden shed.

Even in a pile of weeds and garden refuse, they are growing!

Take another look at the first picture I posted of Amy's grave. Do you see the little flower on the left side? It is a morning glory. I sprinkled a few seeds in the dirt in the spring and it just started growing a few weeks ago. I knew it wouldn't get watered or wouldn't have support to climb but I planted it anyway. And God allowed it to grow. A little flower from a seed, that first came from flowers on our farm in Iowa, growing at my daughter's grave in Pennsylvania. Thank you dear Lord!
 Amy's body rests beside her Grandpa and Grandma to the left. Our farm is just down the hill in the valley in the background.
 The beautiful views of the mountains to the north.
The ground to the right of Amy will hold our bodies someday when the Lord calls us home to Him. It is a comfort to me to know this. It doesn't seem unnatural to me to think of death or graveyards or tombstones. It is just a part of my life now.
As is swinging. Yes, swinging. My little granddaughter squeals with laughter when I swing beside her as she is in the other swing.
I love to lay back and look at the sky and...... just be.
Just be..... held in His arms. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017


I have wanted to blog so many times in the last two and a half months, but the words wouldn't come. After just having a heart wrenching time of crying, and being alone in the house (a rare thing) I decided to sit down here at my computer and see what happens. So I read over my last blog post and the weekend we spent in Canada for our anniversary seems like a very long time ago.

In my last post I mentioned that we were having problems at our church, but I never imagined the amount of pain we would have to suffer in the weeks to come. Our church is an independent Bible church. It is run by the congregation with a board of deacons, trustees, and the pastors. We do not have a denomination we answer to or get help from. As a congregation we vote on everything of importance. When our pastor of 20 some years chose to retire, the deacons were the ones who searched for a new pastor and then the congregation made the decision by voting. So the pastor we have had for the past year was not appointed to us by a denomination. My husband was a deacon so he was involved in the whole process of choosing him. But soon after he came we saw his true character come to light. My husband tried to address issues we  had with him within the confines of the deacon and board meetings, but to no avail.

As the issues were never told to the congregation we increasingly felt the Lord telling us to speak up at a congregational meeting, to inform them of our concerns. So on July 2, I read a statement we had typed up, expressing our concerns and that we were thinking of leaving our "home" of forty years. It was not received well by the pastor. He verbally used Amy as a weapon against us.  He has never visited our house, has never seen her pictures, he has never asked about her life or her death, or even mentioned her name. But that night he said her name to us with malice. He knew where to thrust in the knife and turn it so it would hurt me the most. Bill and I went to the cemetery following church and I just sat on the ground beside Amy's grave and cried and cried.  I knew that night that "my" church was lost to me.

A week later Bill went to a special deacon's meeting and poured out his heart. After hearing the pastor say that he had done nothing wrong, expound on his Bible knowledge, and that Bill was not leading his family correctly by letting me speak up at a meeting, AND when all the other deacons supported the pastor, Bill knew then that we had to leave. 

We had already decided that if we would leave the church we would not leave quietly as others have in the past. We spent hours praying over and composing a letter that we sent to almost everyone in the congregation, telling them why we were leaving and when our last Sunday was to be (August 27th).  They would have received the letter a few days before that Sunday. There was a congregational meeting following the Sunday service and this is the first time in all our years that the moderator announced that there was to be no discussion during the meeting. Emily and Bill followed the Lords leading and spoke what God had laid on their hearts anyway. They had written up what they wanted to say and  spoke calmly and clearly. Others also spoke and in angry tones voiced their support of the pastor and said we were slandering him. We did not reply back and the meeting ended. A few people came to where we were sitting to tell us goodbye, but most just left. 

In an email I received from  a friend the day she received her letter, she said we had been "chosen" to bring the issues to light. I never looked at it that way before. I just knew we had to do what God was telling us to do, so I guess we did have a "calling" to do this.

It is amazing how God has led me this summer in what He has wanted me to study in my Bible. In the beginning of the summer I was in the middle of studying Jeremiah when the Beth Moore study came up and I decided to take a break and do that. I mentioned it in my last post; it was called "Entrusted" and was a study of 2 Timothy.  I was in the middle of this study when all the heartache happened at church. These are the titles of the chapters to give you an idea of how God's Words in Second Timothy encouraged me. Divine Triangulation; Purpose and Grace, Strong in the Grace, Difficult Times, Difficult People; Fulfill Your Ministry; and Face to Face. I felt like we were doing what God called us to do. We were fulfilling our ministry for this time in our lives.
Then the week before our last Sunday at church we had a family vacation at a rental house just a little over an hour away from here. It was a much needed break for us and we were able to spend time in prayer, talking about life and enjoying the family times together. I used that week to do an Instagram Study on Psalm 15. It was a short study and I knew that would be perfect for vacation time as "time" always goes by so fast! Again God used this short Psalm to speak to me about what it means to slander someone. Only He knew that in just a few days we would be accused of slander. We were not slandering as we only spoke in love and concern for our family in Christ. This past week I was back to studying Jeremiah. In chapters 42 and 43 Jeremiah was told by God to tell the remnant of the Jewish people to not flee to Egypt. They ignored him and in 43:2 the arrogant men tell Jeremiah he is lying. The words "arrogant men" sure jumped out to me! I felt like God was showing me that we were like Jeremiah in telling the truth as to what God had told us to do. We obeyed. We were hoping for a different response, but God knew what was to happen. We obeyed and that is all that matters!

God also knows the future. He knows what church we will end up worshipping at. He knows what church all my children and their children will end up at. He knows whether we will all be able to worship together again as a family. He knows if I will be able to hear my girls sing and play the piano in church again. He knows if the cousins will be able to grow up going to the same church. He knows what church will be Emily's "sending" church when she becomes a missionary. He knows. This is what breaks my heart if I let it. I have made peace with the past but I feel that I have lost what I perceived my future to be. But no matter what I pictured for our future, God has so much better in store for us! I am reminded of an old song I learned when I was a child, "Because He Lives"

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives.

I'm also still working on memorizing the first chapter of James. I have been working on it for over a year now. I have half of it down pretty well so I just sometimes rattle it off in my brain so I can concentrate on getting to the part I'm struggling with. I was working on saying it slowly and really concentrating on the words last week when JOY jumped out to me. My word for this year, JOY!
"James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:1-5


Update: I started this last evening. This morning we visited a church with friends. I thought there would be tears, but there was only joy. Thank you Lord.

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.