This last week has been hard, to say the least and put it mildly. BUT GOD has been working at all times. My brain is still a bit like mush (a combination of grief and VBS!) Here are a few things that have happened, been going on, and/or God has been up to in my crazy life since last I wrote:
A dear friend lost her sister. This was rough. It's the first loss I've been close to since Kevin passed away. A million familiar feelings and thoughts whizzed through my mind. Some moments it was hard to keep my tears for my own situation at bay. BUT GOD truly blessed me with the opportunity to be a #tablesitter for a woman who was a #tablesitter for me at the most inconvenient time for her and her family. For at least four days she sat at my table and comforted me, made me laugh, let me cry, let me stare into space, and wrote thank you cards for me. She even let us hold and love on her beautiful infant daughter, which brought much joy and healing. She did all this, leaving us only to go home to sleep before coming back again the next day, when she really needed to be packing to move her family to a new continent to begin their work as missionaries. There were hard moments around her table, BUT GOD made those healing moments as He allowed me to stop thinking of and doing things only for myself, but allowed me to stand in the gap for and with others. I didn't really have any words and just sat there most of the time without saying anything, but it was a JOY and healing to write thank you notes, just as she did for me. Don't get me wrong, I am praying for #nomoretables, but it was peace and JOY and love and healing sitting there. I even met some new people who have been just where I've been and could give me some wise words in my healing process because they have walked this road before me.
We pulled our first tooth without Kevin. This seems like a silly milestone to write about. It feels a little silly to write it. But this was a big deal, for both me and Ethan. I am so proud of the way he just marched right into the bathroom, grabbed the dental floss, and worked at that tooth just like Kevin would have. He was so brave. And I know that was really painful. Mainly because the tooth didn't come out until two days later! The big smile on his face when that tooth came out was priceless. And God used that tiny, silly little moment to show me that we can do this. We can do this because God is with us and for us, in the big and little.
We made our first trip to the city pool without the possibility of Kevin showing up to surprise us. We've spent A LOT of time at the city pool the last 7 summers. Kevin didn't always get to go with us, but he sure loved to surprise us every now and then by just taking the afternoon off and just showing up to play. The kids loved it when he did that! It would make their day every time. I loved watching their faces light up and how hard they had to work not to run right out of the fence to hug him as soon as they saw him. I will miss that. It was always one of the best parts of the summer. BUT GOD will give us fun, new moments each time we visit. Of this I am sure. It will be hard, at times, to press on to make those new memories, but I will lean on Christ and we will forge ahead and make new memories every day.
Sophie invited a stranger to VBS for the first time ever. Sophie spent some time playing with a little girl we didn't know at the pool today and she invited her to VBS at our church. I am so proud of her! She is a lot like her mother and this sort of thing is WAAAAAAY beyond her comfort zone. She's never done anything like this before, which made me even more proud of her. She was a little bummed that she felt the girl was a little annoyed that she asked her to go, BUT GOD let that be a teaching moment for her. I was able to tell her that all she could do was be obedient to tell her about VBS, but it was up to the girl what she did with that. It's just like saying yes to accepting God's free gift of salvation; I have to be obedient to teach my two precious kiddos all I can about God and His word, but it's up to them to decide whether or not they will submit to God and be saved. It was a lesson we both needed.
I am planning and packing for our first family vacation as a family of three. I was not prepared for the emotions that would accompany this. I cannot even wrap my brain around it. Kevin always booked hotels and got us amazing deals on various things. Even thinking about doing that gives me a headache. I do not have the patience it takes to sit and look through listings and call and talk to people, etc. I am praying God will lead and guide as I look and that He will remove the stress so we can all just enjoy the time away, visiting a new place, and just being together in a different environment.
I got a tattoo. Kevin and I had been talking about getting tattoos. As soon as he decided what he wanted, we were going to go together to get them. So, I went with some friends and got what I had decided almost a year ago I wanted. Two little words on my right wrist. "Hosanna" because it used to be a desperate plea for God to send salvation (like you would cry in hopes that the lifeguard would come if you were drowning), but has come to be a a victorious shout because salvation has come (like you would shout as you see and know the lifeguard is on the way). I often need the reminder that salvation has come. He is here. He is with us. I don't have to wait or beg or hope He'll show up. He.is.here. It's on my right wrist because many times in the Bible God talks about saving with His mighty right arm. The other word is "eucharisteo". This word is used in scripture in the account of the Last Supper. As Jesus takes the bread and the cup he gives thanks. Eucharisteo. Thanks. In the midst of the hard. One of the hardest moments of His life. He was breaking bread as a symbol of His body being broken for our salvation, yet He still gave thanks. I often need the reminder to give thanks, regardless of the situation or circumstance. I need the reminder that there's always, always, always a reason to be thankful. That's also why it's written on my wall.
Father, there are a lot more firsts coming up in the next year. Some will be harder than others. Some will carry happier memories than others. We need You to help us through each one of them. Show us the grace in each moment. Show us Your hand in every hurt and hard circumstance. Lord, use each one of these firsts to reveal more of Yourself to my children, drawing them to salvation. Take this hurt, this hard, this grief and use every moment of it for Your glory. In my life. In Sophie's life. In Ethan's life. Teach us to trust You. To rest in You. Make each of us more like You everyday.