Technically, my “vacation” started this spring, on Tuesday, March 26th, after we said “see you later” to our miracle baby. The burden of grief was so deep, so heavy. It came right on the heels of still recovering from losing the baby boy we were going to adopt. I knew the only place to find comfort, healing and peace was at the feet of Jesus, so that’s where I went. I rested. I mourned. I sobbed from my gut. My husband and daughter were also there, and ever faithful to His character, the Lord met us, held us, sheltered us, brought us close to Him and closer to each other.
So many other things were happening at that time that added weight to the load I was carrying. Difficult things, devastating things and even in the midst of that, delightful things. Looking back I now see how the Lord’s perfect timing played out. Chances to do things we wouldn’t normally do like free tickets to Valleyfair with my family. Due to an unexpected IRS refund (WOO HOO!), we even had the funds available to take my daughter to see Les Miserables on stage for her 20th birthday. (Side note: This was so important for us to do for her. We had missed celebrating her birthday 2 years in a row. The first year was because the baby we were going to adopt was born ON her birthday and we needed to rush to the hospital and I can’t even recall at the moment what was going on last year. I had earnestly been praying for a way to celebrate the gift of her and the Lord perfectly provided! Praise Him!)
Another thing I did was spend more time with family. As much as I needed Jesus, I also needed the support and safety of family. My family isn’t very close. We all have our own, busy lives and over the years the chasm has become wider. It took a lot to convince myself that it was time to start making them a priority, to take the steps to let them know I wanted them in my life, that I was finally willing to invest in a relationship with them. Setting my fears and past pains aside, I finally came to a point where I was willing to let them in, even if it was baby steps, because those totally count!
I also purposefully started investing in friendships with the people near me. I’m still not good at any of this, but I know this is what I need, this is what I’ve been avoiding like the plague all these years. I was still determined to protect my own heart from the pain and disappointment that always comes with relationships. It was time to let go. Over the years God has healed my heart in deep, tremendous ways, but I wasn’t allowing the next step to happen. I was too afraid to trust anyone enough to let them in, not even a tiny bit. Irony: At the same time I didn’t want people around, I was completely desperate to have others in my life. My loneliness had become self-inflicted. I needed to be set free from…myself!
Another highlight was our whole family miraculously being able to take time off from work–at the same time–and having the finances, to take a road trip to Nebraska where we attended the Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention. Yes, it IS odd that we’d go to something like this since Love is already a homeschool graduate, but the Lord had a plan and I’m so glad we obeyed! The whole weekend we were encouraged, strengthened and challenged in all sorts of ways. I was also able to connect with and meet some very wonderful online friends and acquaintances who were every bit of a blessing in real life as they are online. I didn’t go there with an agenda, no one really even knew we were going it was so last minute, but that didn’t stop anyone there from including us and loving on us and making us feel welcome. It didn’t matter that we weren’t currently homeschooling, it mattered that the Lord brought us there and everyone was so gracious to make sure we were taken care of. (Personal plug: If you get the chance, or feel the Lord is nudging you to go or you just plain want to go or be blessed, GO to Teach Them Diligently…GO. It is all centered around Christ and there’s something for the WHOLE family.)
After church family picnic’s, my 39th(!) birthday, buying a new to us car, slow Sunday afternoon family lunches, walking dogs in the park, endless, aimless car rides in the country, evening couch snuggling, Love turning 20(!) and getting her driver’s license(!), house projects, countless hours reading my Bible, praying, worshiping while cleaning, watching sunsets, holding hands, spontaneous picnics along the river, staying longer, moving slower, laughing (oh, to finally, really laugh again!), even smiling, (you see, I had even lost my smile), we were able to finally get back to a place where crying and sadness were no longer the “new norm”. Doing these things, while being fully and purposefully present in our lives and in the lives of other people, our joy and hope has been restored.
You see, while going through loss and pain the storm clouds gather, the light is choked out, hope is devastatingly deferred. You must cling to one another as a family and then as a family, really, with a fervent, determined, unanimous grip, cling to Christ. It is so easy to divide and cast out and blame and isolate ourselves from one another. We had our moments of doing this, our own strength wasn’t enough to carry us through.
The only thing strong enough to keep us together was the strength we found in the hope we have in Jesus. Without Him, we would have fallen apart. It took the Jesus in each one of us to do this. No one could be counted out.
He was there, He IS HERE. Because of this truth, in spite of all that has happened, I do believe this summer may have been one of my very best. Thank you, Lord. Thank you.
~Soli Deo Gloria