Monday, March 25, 2013

I still do

19 Years ago Today I was fussing with my hair as I got ready to meet all my friends and family at church for a final walk through of our wedding day.

 The day I remember well. How could I forget all the periwinkle and peach with the white flowers and ice sculpture. I was a young bride but at the time felt very grown up. Since I was the youngest I had seen weddings happen in my family all my life. I already had 4 nephews and 1 niece so I felt ready to plunge into the waters of love and happily ever after.

The babies started coming 18 months later and didn't stop coming for 7 years. We were so blessed as each one arrived and added their own personality to our little nest. We have not always had the best planning skills but God did and we are thankful he knew what we needed. For awhile they came 1 every 2 years and the 4th 3 years after the 3rd. 
Some days I wondered if I would make it to evening. Some days went by quickly 
 I knew that these days were passing too fast.
How in the world did we make it to 19 I ask myself.

Through all the hair changes,life experiences and raising kids we have learned a few things.

And I'm sure there will be much more to learn.

We are both determined and head strong at times. We are 2 normal people who made a commitment through the good, bad, and ugly.

And I intend to keep that promise.

On the back of our program in 1994 we wrote this to our guests.

Dear friends and family,
We are so excited that today has finally come! We want to thank each of you for coming and giving us your support and love. We believe that God has brought us together and are anxiously awaiting all the wonderful blessings he has in store for us.

The vows we have taken are sacred and lifelong. We ask you as our family and friends to hold us accountable always to all you have witnessed today.
We would appreciate your prayers as we endeavor to serve Christ more deeply through this union. 
We love you, 
Jason and Rose

We will never tell you we have a perfect marriage because that would be a perfect lie. But we are learning how to be good forgivers. That's all we can do. 
We have learned, In relationships, if forgiveness is not given by both parties there can be no reconciliation  And it is a must if  a marriage will last. 

Our Love for our Father, Our Commitment and Forgiveness To one another must be the foundation of our home or it will crumble. 

The longer I live The more I realize how there is a plot formed against this union. There is a destroyer who floats around and eagerly looks for opportunities to tear us up and spit us out.

I'm really over his bad intentions. And I'm thankful that God always provides a way of escape.

Sometimes it helps to hold them in a head-lock when in a heated discussion. (laughing)
Speaking of which... We laugh A LOT together. The whole lot of us. Whenever possible we encourage laughter over taking offense.
Shaking it off sometimes is the best advise someone can give me. Let. It. Go. 

Trivial  matters can provide lots of  extra drama in a family if we don't  learn to laugh about it.
I don't know much. I'm not a marriage counselor and I haven't lived up to the perfect spouse position but I do know that I love this guy with all my heart. He is still the one. I love to see him pull in the drive at night.

 I do know that we will have more rough patches because It's inevitable. But I  also know that when my little girl asks me to look her in the eyes and promise that dad and I will  stay together, I can.

Because I still do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

You steady my heart

 Hear me O God in Heaven.

Wish It could be easy... Why is life so messy? Why is pain a part of us.

There are days it feels like nothing ever goes right... Sometimes it just hurts so much!

But You're here. You're real. I know I can trust you.
Even when it Hurts. Even when it's hard. Even when it all just falls apart. I will run to you cause I know that you are, Lover of of my soul, healer of my scars....

You steady my heart. 

 Steady my heart.

I'm not gonna worry, I know that you've got me, right inside the palm of your hand.
 Each and every moment, what's good and what gets broken, happens just the way you plan...

You are here, You're real. I know I can trust you.

Even when it hurts, even when it's hard, Even when it all just falls apart. 

I will run to you cause I know that you are, lover of my soul, healer of my scars. You steady my heart, you steady my heart.
~Kari Jobe

My cry tonight is that you would steady our hearts.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

10,000 minutes later...

When I reflect over the past days I have so many thoughts that swirl my head.
How living takes on a different perspective when a life screech's to a halt. 
Trivial things seem pointless and petty. 
One of my boys mentioned... "People try to make me laugh but it's just not all that funny".
This ache that resides over my heart feels like it may never leave. I just want to make it better for all those I love. And I can't.
I have some fears of how this will change my family or my children who at such a tender age have had to deal with the harshest realities of life.
And then God once again graciously gave me a story through my 10 year old's Bible Teacher.
On Thursday, the first day my children attempted school, there was a chapel service. The teacher spoke of everyone having an expiration date. She asked the young children, "what would you do if you knew it was your last day to live?" One little boy said he would travel the world. Another spoke of material possessions  She said, "and then I saw Sophie with her little hand up. So I asked, What do you think Sophie?" Sophie replied, "I would spend it with my family"
It brings tears to my eyes that at 10, My little one has learned one of  the most important things of life. She knows that in the end to be surrounded by those we love is what brings meaning. And I personally feel like hiding in the shelter of that for a long time. I feel exposed and sad if I am anywhere else right now.

Many people have talked about the strong faith of our family especially of my sister and brother in law and how they, in the middle of watching a child suffer so much, stayed strong in their belief that God is good and  in control. I am thankful to be part of such a family. But I do not think it so impressive as some say. I think it to be the only way we survive.  As Jason has so eloquently stated... "We have all been created to turn to something.. And Jesus invites us to choose him." So if we don't choose him it will be something. Substance abuse, Workaholism, Overspending, Bitterness, and many other poisons  that one may choose.

I found myself being angry initially. Not at God because I knew he was with us. I have a deep sense in my heart that he loves us no matter what life brings us. But my anger came out of the powerlessness I felt to control what was happening.My heart ached at the sounds of gut-wrenching sobs that come when a parent has to let a child go. I was angry at our Soul's enemy because I knew he was delighted to see us in pain. I was angry that we live in a world of sin. I was angry that Instead of buying drinks to give to my nephew because he enjoyed the taste, I was buying them to put on the top of his casket for a memorial of his last requested list of special liquids. I feel powerless and frustrated when my son through tears says, "Life will never be the same." And somehow I fear he is right.

But falling into the strong arms of my Father, while accepting the reality of life, feeling the pain deeply, and not allowing bitterness to overtake me on the other side of the funeral is where I walk today.
 Not because I'm so strong. 
But because I know he is.

I will continue to encourage my sister and her family to keep the faith. Because I know it is the only way that in the end we will be saved from the pit of  the hell of our own making.

I will remember the good times and we will continue to talk of them. We will look forward to a time when we will be together again. Forever this time. Where there will be no more pain or sadness. No respiratory failure, pic lines, discomfort or thirst. 
One of the most comforting things I heard this past weekend came from a childhood friend. She told me she had heard it at a funeral one time. 
"We will be with them Longer than we will be a part from them"
For some reason I can't get that out of my head. 
Because I know things will be hard. I know they will be different. There will always be a void. I know those things instinctively.
But when I think of  being a part as a short time in contrast of the years we will be together it gives me hope and the lump in my throat subsides for a minute.
Thank you for that encouragement Gwen!

So many of you came out to give your love and kind words. Thank you for being such a tremendous supportive community. It means the world to us as we grieve. You have been Jesus with skin!

 Until it is my turn to make that soul trip to leave this earth forever I could not ask for a better place to live out my days. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Crushed down but not destroyed

It is with a heavy heart and swollen eyes I bring this post tonight. If you have been reading my sisters caring bridge site you know that on Tuesday we said goodnight to our little warrior. He fought hard and long and his suffering was tremendous!

On Monday I got the call that Benji was too critical to have a transplant. The docs were taking him off the list and only gave him days to live. We were packed and on our way to St Louis with other family members within 2 hours. It was a quiet and tearful journey. I entered a world I never knew before. I have grieved loss before but this one feels so different. The whole Idea of a parent having to watch a child suffer and thirst and ultimately bury a child is one I  cannot make sense of. The injustice of the pain my children and other cousins are and will carry lays heavy on my shoulders. The empty spot my soft spoken nephew will leave  in our family,School, in his Sunday School and in my heart.

After we arrived we went straight to the hospital and up to his room. Gathering we tried to squeak out of our shaky  voices and quivering chins songs of his faithfulness and peace.
Be still our souls.....I remembered how just weeks before when we gathered and sang he would lay as though sleeping but would continue to motion with his hand,as though he were directing us, to sing. Sometimes we got the thumbs up if he liked it. He also showed us sign language for I love you when we told him his cousins were wanting to come back to see him.

But now, he lay unmoving, hooked up to a breathing machine peacefully looking fast asleep. Indeed we did not know these were his final,  3 precious hours.
I thought back to 2 weeks prior when we had made a trip down to anoint him. It seemed like 2 months ago. He had wanted to watch a movie with Jalen, Malaina and Micah so we set them up on a sleeping sofa behind his bed. He was too tired to watch it all at one time so they watched half at night and half the next day. 

 At 7:30 am Tuesday, March 12, 2013  he drew his last breath. We told that little bird to fly to Jesus. Safe in his arms.
And as his brother worst day ever,Benji's best.
He is home where we all long to be.

I posted this on Benji's wall late Tuesday afternoon.

Benji I was going to write you a letter last night on our way to say goodbye for now... But only tears would come. I still need to let you know how much you touched me as I watched you walk the valley. You showed strong patience in suffering. A tremendous warrior like spirit with all the scars from battle to prove it. You were brave mighty warrior!! Your love for family was beautiful and one of the first things Jalen mentioned when we asked what he will miss most of his best friend. You did shine your little light so brightly in this dark world. You were loved ferociously by people all over the world. Your mom and dad fought hard to give you the life you dreamed of. And now today you have finally gotten that life. You are free. FREE!!! This morning I would imagine that the healer of your scars may have said something like this as you stood before him. " We'll done young warrior! You have finished the race I had prepared for you. Now come enter the kings service. Eat of the abundance from my table. And drink, DRINK to your hearts content from the river of life." We are right on your heels Benjamin Ross! You just beat us this time! I can imagine that you will show Landon, Jalen and Micah all the great places to explore. Just like you boys did at TroyerCampouts— off to EXPLORE. Or maybe you will want to teach us a new card game. I'm sure you will reach down to pick Annika up in your strong arms. Or Perhaps you will challenge Cory to a race,and we know your new pipes will give that big brother a bit of a challenge!! We will be there soon. Save us a spot close to you my dear boy!! I love you mighty Warrior!! Aunt Rosie