Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful hearts...

In my family we've always kept a Thanksgiving tradition that had been taken from a scene in the movie The Grinch where Cindy Lou Who has her fork pitched into a dinner roll. My kids always loved this scene because the dinner roll looked so good, so every Thanksgiving they would reenact it and pose for a picture. This last year Jay was feeling especially playful and gave us a warm memory to look back upon. 

Now he feasts in the light of God's glory and as we remain here on this earth, we'll continue to raise our fork pitched dinner rolls with thankful hearts because of it. Soon, we'll all be feasting together again, and what a great day that will be!!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving tomorrow with your loved ones and enjoy your feast! 

God is good... :)


Monday, November 25, 2013

With Suffering Comes Opportunity

Recently, I took my car in to get an oil change and while I was there the mechanic asked me if I remembered when I had last changed my air filters. I thought, 'I have no idea!' I had never handled the car issues before--that was Jay's department. But after hearing the mechanic say this, I realized that I better learn what this car care stuff was all about and told the guy to go ahead and just give everything a quick check up. It turns out that it didn't need oil at all! How was I supposed to know that? I just saw this little light thing go off in my car and I assumed it meant 'get oil'! I guess I have a lot to learn about car care, but the trip wasn't entirely in vain. He did discover that the air filters I had in place were the wrong size. When he said this, a little light bulb went off in my head because for the longest time Jay and I couldn't figure out why the air conditioning was so weak in our car. In fact, we finally had just surrendered to the idea that the air system just didn't work well; now it seemed the problem may have been solved!

I told the mechanic to go ahead and replace the filters with the proper sized ones, and sure enough when he did, the air worked great! In my excitement I reached for my phone--since I'd of course want to share this discovery with Jay--but within the very second I thought to call him, I realized yet again that he was no longer here. I often think to myself, 'how many times do I have to go through this'? I suppose it's a knee jerk reaction that will take some time to fade. Thirty years of reaching for my phone, calling him, and expecting him to pick up is a habit that will be hard to break. It makes me think about what a precious gift we had together. These were the small moments that would be so unimportant to anyone else but to us; they were ours to share.

I find myself having to beat those moments back throughout my days so that I can press forward without feelings of heartache overtaking me. Eventually though, they catch up with me and I hit my emotional wall. When that happens I find it to be a bittersweet experience. Yes it's hard to crash, but when I do it feels good to be forced to stop and let myself have a good cry. I'm aching inside and it feels right to let my body express it. I'm also able to allow my thoughts to melt into my memories of Jay with no need to ward them off to avoid upset. I can just go with it and feel all I want and feel him all I want, too. But the most important purpose that those bittersweet days serve me, are that they remind me that I have to be completely reliant upon God because I can't endure any of this without Him. Seasons of suffering have a purpose, and in my suffering I'm gently and lovingly reminded that He is my sole strength and hope, and by the power of His Holy Spirit He will rise me up again.

Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. It's a scripture said often and sometimes too loosely. To tap into this supernatural power of claiming such a magnificent promise, we have to be solely dependent upon the one who promised it. Pain and suffering can not be avoided in a broken world, but with suffering there is opportunity to be that much more dependent upon a God who's refining his children for glorious things. Through the redemptive power of the cross, He lifts us up from the floor and makes steady our feet, so that we can take to the heights where our ankles do not give way. How wonderful is that? And how wonderful is our God?!

"Father, thank you for showing me in my pain how much I need you. You are my strong shield. You protect me when I'm weak, and in my weakness you supply me with the strength to stand again. How blessed are your children to know this depth of love and redemptive power? Thank you for the cross that makes it all possible and thank you for the gift of your son Jesus".  Amen.

God is good... 

2 Samuel 22 31-37
31 As for God, his way is perfect:
     The Lord's word is flawless;
      he shields all who take refuge in him.
32 For who is God besides the Lord?
     And who is the Rock except our God?
33 It is God who arms me with strength
      and keeps my way secure.
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
      he causes me to stand on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for battle;
     my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You make your saving help my shield;
     your help has made me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
      so that my ankles do not give way.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Taking My Hand

One of the things I miss most about Jay (besides everything) is his love for music. He loved all kinds of music. Classic rock (of course), R&B, jazz, country....he loved it all. He truly felt that he had missed his calling; he dreamed of picking up the drums again some day and playing in a band, In the meantime, I was his drum. Since the time we began dating to the time God took him home, he would often use the steering wheel with his left hand--and my left leg with his right hand--as his drum set in the car. He would passionately play to the beat of  his favorite songs, and I loved it! You might be wondering how he steered the car. With his knee of course!

Now I on the other hand, have no sense of rhythm. Although I appreciate music, I have no idea what's what as far as notes are concerned, and the understanding of instruments and beats seem to go right over my head. Jay thought this was funny and he felt strongly that if I just paid attention to his teachings I would be able to learn how to "feel" the music. This seemed a lost cause to me as it was simply a language I didn't understand.

One day while driving in the car he started to beat on his "drum set" in his usual way, only this time I was holding his hand and I didn't let go. This wasn't the first time this had ever happened but for some reason on this particular occasion I thought to let his hand guide me through the beats. It was kind of like when you put your fingers on one of those automatic pianos and you actually feel like you can play Beethoven for a minute. I was able to feel the music through Jay in a way I had never felt it before and what can I say, I felt like a rock star!

When I told Jay about this he got so excited that he started doing it regularly. I'd actually get excited whenever he'd reach over to take my hand knowing that he was going to start teaching me how to feel each beat. He would try explaining the different instruments to me but I still didn't get it--and it really didn't matter. It was something we enjoyed doing because it made us feel connected.

In this last year of Jay's life, his music genre narrowed down quite a bit. He mostly listened to Jars of clay, Needtobreathe, Bebo Norman; basically just worship. He had it playing in the morning when he woke up, and at night when we'd go to bed and in all the hours in between. Looking back, it blesses me to see how much his heart was worshiping and praising God.

One of his favorite worship songs was by David Crowder Band called How He Loves. I remember so clearly the day Jay told me that he wanted me to hear this song. He played it for me and as we listened to it, he became emotional. He talked about how the song made him feel, and I could see that he felt so humbled at the thought of a Father who loves him with such depth. I remember thinking, 'wow, I love this song too but I don't get moved like that.' He often played it in the mornings as he'd be getting ready for the day and he loved singing it out loud. Jay loved to sing in the shower. I can still see him squinting his eyes and buckling at the knees as he passionately sang through the chorus. It's a visual I'll always have and always cherish.

One day after Jay went home to be with the Lord,  I was standing in my room by the shower and the song How He Loves came on. For a minute I became overwhelmed. It reminded me of Jay, and with that came the sting I often feel because he's no longer here. But all of a sudden, the sting was gone and I found myself  in a much different place. I found myself in the presence of God as I became lost in that moment of worship; I became lost in His deep love for me. As I closed my eyes I could see Jay's hand on mine as he carried me through each note teaching me how to feel what I needed to feel, and what I felt was God. 

I'm so grateful that I can still feel Jay in the depths of my soul--where he continues to take hold of my hand-- and where our marriage continues to teach me the deeper truths of God's perfect love.

God is so good... and oh how he loves us.