Where have YOU been?
I've been on a journey. See...I blog for my 3 girls. For me. For my family. For my friends. To share with you some of my crafting and some of my heart from time to time. And as of late, my heart has just been unable to speak words.
February 1st, Uncle Mel died. My husbands uncle. My husband grew up with him being more like a brother since they were so close in age. But in recent years, he'd been the other "father in law" I'd ever known (my husbands own father died almost 30 years ago) and Mel had stepped in and been a guiding light for our family. We had grown close over the recent years and we know now that was such a blessing. It takes time for your heart to feel like it can go on.
4 weeks and 6 days later, my dear sweet friend Kris passed away. A homeschooling mother of 5. A courageous and generous and loving woman who I miss terribly.
One day, years and years ago when I used to do home trunk shows and sales of the Two Peas stuff, I got an email from a woman who said she enjoyed my blog and had I ever considered having a sales rep? She went on to tell me she lived in Columbus, Ohio and was a homeschooling Mom of 5 and looking for some small income and job on the side.
I wrote her back telling her that I too lived in Columbus (she didn't know that at the time she emailed me) and offered to meet her for coffee sometime. She wrote back telling me exactly which suburb she lived in (Columbus proper is over 1 million people and the suburbs total way way more than that and covers a pretty large area as our state capitol) so we could make plans.
Would you believe we lived in the exact same town? Not only that but we lived within 3 miles of each other. And when we met for coffee at the local coffeehouse, she went on to tell me about the church she and her family were considering joining. It was the church we belonged to. Kris and I were friends from that day on. We bonded over sewing, over kids, over our church. Her kids were on swim team with my girls. We chatted about 4H and lots of other things.
And then a little more than a year ago, she got sick. I had sent her an email asking for help with some sewing projects and she responded, asking, had I seen the note she posted on facebook. I hadn't. I read it and my heart dropped. She had been diagnosed with cancer, thymoma. Over the next year, I joined in with countless friends and family to help bring meals to her family and clean house for her while she fought. I prayed for her a lot. Every single day. Many times. But her healing just didn't happen here on earth. The end of January, her family had a birthday party for her and I felt in my heart, I was saying goodbye. A month later, she passed.
Hard stuff. Hard stuff for my heart to handle.
Last week, my husbands best friend got married. Joy. My husband, the Gardener, he was the best man and our little Sprout was the flower girl. When we walked into church for the wedding rehearsal, we walked into the area where my friend Kris had laid at her memorial service - where I last saw her earthly body - and said one final goodbye to my friend. We walked into this joyous occassion and I had to turn around and walk right back to the restroom to have a cry. My two peas had much of the same reaction. They said they could "feel" Ms. Kris there in that place. I did too.
So my heart has been on this journey. And although there is sadness - I don't want this post to be about grief.
In this sadness, I have actually been given amazing gifts that I feel incredibly blessed to receive.
In these last couple of months, this little journey has brought me to confidence and peace.
I had the gift of being able to care for my family when Mel died. I shared very intimate conversations and time with my husband and I got to love him even more than before. He has been through a lot in his life and being able to comfort him and share life with him, good and bad, has been a blessing for me.
I shared a lot of my rollercoaster kind of feelings with my Pastor recently - after Mel died, I had not been back to church for awhile. It was too hard. But what I felt in my life was that God was changing me. And I have been thinking a lot about death. In a good way. About meeting death with confidence. About peace. Because death - in my faith as a Christian - is not the end. But I had not yet reached the place in my life that I fully rested in that truth or the promise of eternity.
Tomorrow is Easter. My Pastor asked me if I would read a scripture verse at our Good Friday service last night and if I would share something personal about my thoughts on this scripture. Tricky. He knew I had not been in a "good" place lately. Or maybe I have been in a very good place. My scripture verse I choose was Luke 23: 44-46.
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
One of my girls drew the picture above for me while we were sitting in church last night before I went up to speak. Wishing me Good Luck. What I shared was that Jesus had willingly took the torturous pain and burden of our sins. He knowingly came to the cross. And he confidently came to death - He was not afraid, His life had not been TAKEN but that He had GIVEN His life for ours.
But I've never had that confidence. I don't think I've ever trusted in God enough to be at peace with what eternity is, whatever it is. And when I think back to Mel, in his final moments, he showed tremendous courage and faith. He wasn't scared. He was ready.
My friend Kris, she fought hard for the sake of her kids but ultimately, she was not afraid because she knew where she was headed.
When I think about my Grandma Beatrice before she passed, even years before she passed, she would tell me she was ready. I never understood that peace. But she would ask me all the time if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and had I asked Him into my heart. I would be annoyed with her because of course I had - being raised in the church and all.
But in my adult life - I have found that it's not something you do just once. At least not for me. Because my life with Christ - my confidence and peace in my faith comes and goes.
When Jesus was in that dark place on Good Friday, He was outside of the kingdom of God and in pain from the burden of all of our sins, and He did that to free us so that we might have eternity. He did that so that when we come to death, we can meet it with confidence and peace knowing that it isn't goodbye - it is, see you later.
I have created in my life, my own personal Hell at times - I am a sinner. I have done things I am not proud of. I am ashamed. And those things can really weigh you down.
But in these last couple of months, in grief, I have found great joy. And Peace. Because I'm finding my own confidence. My faith has been strengthened.
I have NOT ONCE.
But many times over in the course of my lifetime, I have asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and I have asked Him to come into my heart, and forgive me of my sins. And each time I do, I think about my Grandma Bea, and her teaching me those words.
And in sorrow, I'm finding peace and confidence because I believe that my sins are washed clean. I believe I can have second chances to do better, be better. I believe in the promise of eternity. I believe I can move forward in my life, unburdened, made anew, without fear, without worry - that I can be like Mel, and Kris, and my Grandma Bea.
That I can find peace and confidence.
So, I haven't been here in blog land much lately because my heart has been on a journey. It didn't feel right to come here until the time was right to share what God has been doing in my life.
And Easter - Resurrection Sunday - is the perfect time.
For Hope. For Blessings. For Rebirth. For Forgiveness. For Courage. For Strength. For Promises. For all of us.
I ended my sharing at our Good Friday service by quoting a song I love by contemporary Christian artist Matt Maher called "Christ is Risen". (find it on iTunes - you'll love it).
"Oh death. Where is your sting?
Oh Hell. Where is your victory?
Oh Church. Come stand in the light.
Our God is not dead. He is alive. He's alive."
Happy Easter and Many blessings to your family. Thanks for sharing my journey and being patient while I ride the ride.