Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Weekend with Friends

Last week I went away.

I left my home where so many reminders of Amy dwell and went down south. I’ve made this trip many times- down to the place where I spent 3 years of my life, got an education, and made a lot of friends. I’d been planning this trip for about a year and it could not be postponed. I knew it would be good for me, but I was scared. Scared that I’d have to open up more deeply, scared that I would not be able to be joyful on this trip that should be treasured.

I heard a song on the radio that I had sung before, but had not heard for a while. It’s called “Gratitude” and is a prayer asking God for rain, food, shelter, and peace but if He does not give them we will still thank Him for what we do have and for the lessons He will teach us through that ( My mother and I talked before I left about looking again for the gifts God’s giving us daily. Thankfulness sparks joy. But, I’m not there yet.

I was happy last weekend. We visited old places we would hang out and did things we had wanted to do together. We talked about our lives and our future plans. In a way, we were reliving the past- but I knew the whole time that Amy wasn’t there. She wasn’t a phone call away or waiting for me when I got home like she had been. So many reminders of her no matter where I go. But my friends were there- a miracle in itself- so we laughed and gave back massages and explored and ate. We spent the precious time God gave us with one another. I am so thankful God allowed us to be together once again.

 And I was so proud of my dear friend who persevered and stayed to get her Master's degree. I'm so glad to have gotten to share life with her- some friendships will last a lifetime! 

And as I drove home I realized that I was ready to accept the change. My college years have ended- the campus does not excite me anymore. My friends have parted ways and their lives are changing also. And home will never be the same.

It’s time for me to accept the fact that life will never return to the way it was.

My priorities have changed- I view relationships more highly now than I ever did. Certain topics seem so meaningless now in view of eternity and the temporariness of life here on earth. My goals have changed with the realization of God’s sovereignty that overrules any dreams I have. Before I was just going through the motions of what had to be done. Now it’s settling in my heart. I’m ready to teach again. I’m ready to sing and play in church again. I’m ready to work. Yet, I want to spend the precious moments God gives me with my family.

Amy gave us joy. It was her daily gift to our family and we are left without it- wondering how to retain it again. We are different and I feel somewhat lost. I wish I could have that deep down happiness again- but it's just too full of sadness and missing her right now. 

Somehow, at some point, with God's help and direction, joy will return.

Monday, May 13, 2013

She has hind's feet in the High Places!

So many memories flood our lives. So many reminders of Amy. Things she would love, things she did, things that happened. Just this morning, I was thinking about when we would help Amy walk and she would walk a few steps with us in front of her and then just stop- she had had enough and she wasn't budging anymore. She knew we would carry her the rest of the way and would laugh about it! 

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was describing how I'm feeling in such a pointed way that I knew the Holy Spirit was talking through her. How it seems like there is this mountain in front of me that I don't know how to get over and that at times I just feel so dry and thirsty. Little memories are my sips of water and they come infrequently, but at the times when I need them the most. 

I've been reading a book, "Hinds Feet in High Places," for a little over a year now. God knew I needed to pick the book back up when Amy was in the hospital and has provided just the right chapters. Almost a week ago, I had one of those nights when I felt so thirsty for a glimpse of Amy, for that feeling of her presence and God gave me a dream that night. A dream where I carried her and she felt so heavy (she really wasn't) and I was exhausted when I woke up. I usually read my Bible in the morning, but I had left it downstairs and so I read the next chapter in "Hinds Feet In High Places" (spoiler alert- if you are presently reading this book you might want to skip to the end of the post!). The main character is called Much-Afraid and (like Pilgrim's Progress) has taken this journey that the Shepherd has sent her on because He promised to make her crippled feet like hind's feet. She has endured much along this journey- taunting from Bitterness, Fear, Resentment, Pride, Self-Pity and precipices so steep or low that makes her doubt the Shepherd's wisdom. But the Shepherd gives her two companions to help her called Suffering and Sorrow. She finally she reaches a place where she is at peace and the final challenge she faces is to willingly have the flower of human love ripped from her heart. After that she sleeps and awakes in a green valley with vibrant flowers and birds singing and butterflies and insects and a river flowing.     
And here are excerpts from what I read that morning... 
   "The first thing she did, after she had taken in her surroundings, was to step toward the river which gushed out from under the alter. It drew her irresistibly. She stooped down when she got to the back and dabbled her fingers in the crystal water. It was icy cold, but it sent a shock of ecstasy tingling through her body, and without further delay she put off the white linen robe she was wearing and stepped into one of the rocky pools. Never had she experienced anything so delicious and exhilarating. It was like immersing herself in a stream of bubbling life. When at last she again stepped out of the pool she was immediately dry and tingling from head to foot with a sense of perfect well-being.
    As she stood on the mossy bank by the pool she happened to glance down and noticed for the first time that her feet were no longer the crooked, ugly things which they had always been, but were "straight feet," perfectly formed, shining white against the soft green grass.
As I read and wept I was reminded again that Amy's feet were given strength again and that perhaps there was a beautiful valley that she could discover each of the new abilities she received one at a time- her voice could speak and sing and she could run her fingers through her hair and pick and eat berries and all the many little things she can take joy in!

 It gave me peace and a realization that the memories and dreams I have are not her now. And a part of me is sad, because I can't help her anymore. Even in Heaven I won't be feeding her, carrying her, fixing her hair. She does those things on her own now. We will just be sisters- there for each other, talking and laughing together, sharing moments. It's a new role I have to prepare myself for and it's a little hard to swallow even though it will be grand and glorious when it happens. The mountain of grief and uncertainty about the future is high and it is only the Lord who will get me over it. And, like it's been my whole life, I'm going to have to go one step at a time.