Eight years ago my life changed in an instant. Since then, I have been amazed at God’s graciousness when choosing to seek purpose in spite of pain. One year ago. on a day marked with “ashes”, He chose instead to bless us with “beauty”
When Don died eight years ago, the life I had created for 24 years changed in an instant. I was a widow—a single mother, but left with determination to honor my husband’s legacy and a will to create a life of significance for my children. My resolve to craft contentment out of despair drove my every decision. With an extreme amount of faith and the support of family and friends, I began the journey to a new normal
Today I look at my children and believe Don would be proud of them. He would be happy that Chad is married and courageous enough to continue pursuing his dream. He would be thrilled that Chandler is finishing his senior year of high school and will soon be on his way to college. He would be most honored that they are men of integrity who love completely and always endeavor to live according to the legacy he left to them.
Make no mistake, not a day goes by that we don’t think of Don—that we don’t miss his presence here on earth. We embrace and acknowledge that he was a great father; husband, son, brother and friend who touched our lives more in his few short years than most do in a lifetime. We speak of him lovingly and often. We grin at the fact that we can’t eat apple butter without thinking of him, can’t pass a golf course without acknowledging his authority, or watch the St. Louis Cardinals without yelling “THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!”
September has always been a difficult month for me. From the first day to the last I normally have a feeling of angst and sorrow—yet all of that changed on this day last year —today no longer holds the stigma of sorrow, but is instead replaced with hopefulness. Sometimes I think that God, in his infinite wisdom, decides to astonish us with blessing when we least expect it-September 29th, 2012 was one of those God-moments.
On this date a last year, with my nephews and sons in tow, we headed to Chicago, to meet my niece, Ru, for the first time. Words fail to describe the excitement we all felt—the anticipation, of finally meeting this darling girl, who we had grown to love from a mere picture, overwhelmed the atmosphere. Gone was any angst this day formerly signified and it was replaced with the message of hope that bringing Ru home symbolized.
I will never forget rounding the corner from the parking lot into the lobby of the airport — catching a glimpse of Ru on her daddy’s shoulders. Bright-eyed and a bit timid – this little girl had no idea what she represented in the hearts and lives of every individual there to meet her. Little did she know that her arrival would forever change the significance of this day to the boys and me.
There was nothing in the months and months of planning to bring Ru home that would have made us believe it would be on September 29th that she would first set foot on American soil. In our humanness we could never have planned it more perfectly, but God’s plans are not ours…
I don’t believe that God intends for us to live weighed down by our circumstances. I believe He is always offering opportunities to ease our pain and to give it purpose – we must be willing to embrace them and reside in a place where we allow God to “give beauty instead of ashes, . . joy instead of mourning, and . . . praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Isaiah 61:3)
Today. we celebrate family.We celebrate God’s faithfulness. We celebrate hope. This morning, Don’s Martin guitar will be played during worship by my nephew Eric. Kent and I will sing on the praise team in celebration God and where his grace has brought us, but most importantly we know that when we look into the eyes of Ru–we find an authentic example of the “display of God’s splendor” (Isaiah 61:3b)–we find “beauty for ashes”.