April 29, 2016

#choosingjoybyblessing

That was the theme for our day yesteday, April 28, 2016. If he hadn't passed away in March, that would have been my husband's 34th birthday. I knew it would be a hard day. I knew there would be sadness. And tears. And not wanting to move.

I had a choice: wallow in my sadness (and take my children with me), or choose JOY in the hard and teach my children that, even in the hard, God is good. Obedience brings blessing. Loving God and loving others really do matter.

I wanted to choose the first one. I wanted a day of nothing but laying in bed, watching movies, and crying. But, honestly, that did no one any good, least of all my children. That choice did nothing to honor the man I with whom spent 15 years loving, serving, and building a family. I knew that I had to choose to see the JOY in the hard. There was only one way to do that: lean in to God, the source of any strength I may have (and believe me, there isn't much!) To honor Kevin's memory on his birthday I wanted to do two things--serve others in a way that Kevin loved to serve others and share God with those we chose to serve.

One of the things Kevin loved to do most was to give people gifts that they could truly use but weren't expecting. I am not quite sure how it happened, but I decided that I wanted to give Sonic gift cards to HLGU students. We met and fell in love at HLG and it's almost finals time. It was perfect! My sweet friend Larinee helped me to refine the idea and wrote a poem I could give with each gift card. On top of that, when cleaning out some of Kevin's things, I found an old Christmas card that still had money in it that was a little more than the amount I had planned to spend, allowing me to add two more gift cards. Isn't God good?

Yesterday was probably the best day we've had in 6 weeks. Yes, there were some tears. Yes, we missed Kevin a little more than the day before. But, it was oh, so sweet, to take my kids to several places just for the purpose of spoiling other people. We had a very good conversation about sacrificing in order to share Christ with others and the truth that obedience brings blessings, even when that blessing doesn't come right away or in the form we thought it would take. We talk about how much daddy loved giving gifts to people and how good he was at getting just the perfect thing for people. We had some laughs as we talked about funny stories or silly things daddy did or said. It was just a wonderful day.

I needed that day. If feel so self-absorbed right now. My brain is stuck in grief mode and I've had a really hard time thinking beyond my four walls. Sometimes I can't even think within these walls. Sometimes I can't even think at all. I hate this feeling. I hate that someone else had to clean my house, wash my laundry, plan my daughter's birthday party, head up things that I was supposed to do, and much more. I hate that I don't feel up to standing in the gap when others need help. I hate that I haven't had the words to write notes of love and encouragement to all those amazing ladies who have loved me through these hard days in every way they can. I want to live a life that points others to Christ and pours itself out being His hands and feet. It felt really good to do that yesterday.

Here's just a little glimpse into our day of #choosingjoybyblessing yesterday:
 Heading out for the day.
 Breakfast at Java Jive, one of Kevin's favorite places.
 One of the two extra gift cards we were able to purchase.
 We left those two on random cars in downtown Hannibal.
 We walked a few blocks because Kevin loved walking around downtown Hannibal.
 The kids insisted we take pics here. It's the bench where we had most of our family pictures taken.
 The note and gift cards we left for students at HLGU.
 All the numbers meant something to us. I love that the way Sophie posed for each of these pictures was so her!
 Note how differently he was posed! So him!
 I even went for a run, something Kevin also enjoyed. He always tried to get me to run with him, but I didn't get into running until he couldn't run anymore.
 Birthday gelato at another favorite place of Kevin's: Stam's.
Our version of birthday cake.

We picked out shoes to send to Bethesda, the orphanage where our friends will be living and working, starting Monday!

I think one of the most exciting parts of the day was hearing from the teacher of a student whose meal we paid for in the McDonald's drive-through. We were so sad when we got there and there was no one behind us. We stopped, prayed for God to send someone, then pulled up to order. Just as we started to order, a car pulled up behind us. This teacher said her student brought in the card we gave them, ready it to her, and, though he doesn't pray, said that he would start praying by praying by us. It also opened the door for her to share our story with her class. It was a beautiful example to my kiddos that, truly, obedience brings blessing. When we choose to use what God has given us (time, money, talents, etc) He will bless us and bless others.

Father, give me Your eyes and Your heart so that I can be Your hands and feet. Steal my children's hearts! Let today be the day of Sophie's salvation! Let today be the day of Ethan's salvation. Adopt them! Make them new creations in You who have a passion for You and sharing You lovingly with all they meet. Mold us. Shape us. Use us!

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