Monday, April 9, 2012

Hope, Joy and Faith

It's been a very tough weekend.  We celebrated the first birthdays and the first holiday since my Mama died.  On Saturday we celebrated Hannah's birthday, and yesterday was Easter and my nephew's birthday.  I expected it to be hard, but it was so much worse than I had imagined it would be.  I've cried about 2/3 of the weekend.

I miss my Mama.  So often the thought, "I just want my Mama back" crosses my mind.

I had to ask friends to pray I would get through Hannah's birthday without sobbing, and I would be able to actually enjoy myself.  I couldn't stop crying the entire morning.  My mom mostly likely would have not gone to the party.  She missed a lot of parties the last few years of her life because she just didn't feel like going.  But she would have called just before the party telling me she wasn't coming and asked a hundred questions about what I had planned, who was coming and what was I feeding everyone ... and she would ask if I would save her a piece of cake.  My sister-in-law always makes my girls cakes, and my Mama loved her cakes.  Then she would have called after the party wanting to know a play by play and list of everyone who came.

She would call and want pictures put on Facebook a.s.a.p. so she could see them.

There were no phone calls this year.  I never thought I would miss my phone ringing so much.

Yesterday was heart wrenching.  I have dreaded Easter for days.  I couldn't even get my act together about baskets for my girls.  The few things I have bought are still sitting in a chair at the end of my dining room table.

I can barely think past the next moment.

My mom was big on holidays.  She was big on family being together and holidays were the perfect excuse to have us all at her house.  Every Easter we would go to her house after church to grill out and have an egg hunt for the kids.  After lunch and the egg hunt, we would all sit on the screened-in porch watching the kids open their eggs and shove tons of candy in their mouths.  We would sit around and talk and laugh all afternoon.

This year was different.

We still spent Easter with my dad.  We still ate lunch, had an egg hunt and sat on the porch and laughed.  But under the laughter was much sadness.  We were all on the verge of breaking down and sobbing.  The day before my brother and I had a conversation about needing to be strong for our kids and to try and have a good time for them.  My Mama would have wanted that.  It wasn't easy though.

As we drove up the first thing that jumped out at me was my dad has covered her car.  I don't even know how to express the pain that hit my heart and my stomach at the exact same moment.  When Nathan parked the car I looked straight into the window in front of us and could see the spot on the couch where my mom always sat.  She would always lean over and peek out the window to see who had just driven up.

Yesterday she wasn't there.  Even though I knew she wouldn't be, it didn't lessen the pain I felt seeing her spot empty.

I hadn't been there since the day of her funeral.  I sat in the van and cried for awhile.  I wasn't sure I was even going to be able to go into the house.  I think I was able to go in right after she died because part of me was still in shock.

Yesterday reality sat in and it was more than I could handle.

But just as He has been the past 2 1/2 weeks, the Lord was gracious.  His strength is so much bigger than my ability.

As I sat there praying for the Lord to give me the strength to walk in that house, He reminded me of what my brother had said, "we are going to have to be strong for our kids tomorrow."

I know, Lord, but I don't think I can do this.

With Me, all things are possible.

With that, I walked into the house.  The first thing I noticed was a huge void.  I still couldn't walk into the den where she always was, so I sat on the couch in the living room and cried for a few minutes.

Once my brother and his family got there, the house was full of chatter and laughter ... but the void remained.

My nephew said the prayer over lunch, and the end of his prayer just about sent me into massive sobbing.

In his sweet, tender voice he said, "And God let Nana have a good time in Heaven with you today."

And, Lord, help me keep it together.  Help me relish in the sweetest of this moment, and not focus on the pain his precious reminder that she is with You has brought to my heart.  Help me focus that even in his sadness, he is teaching me to look to You.

The Lord was faithful.

Not only did He help me keep it together, He also gave me the ability to laugh and enjoy being together.  Mama was greatly missed.  All day long we made reference to her.  Even though she wasn't with us, she was still close to our hearts and never left our minds.

Remember me talking about the big gust of wind that came through the tent the day she was buried?

Twice ... TWICE ... as we sat on the porch a big gust of wind came through and opened the screen door.

Jesus was near to the brokenhearted.  He was all around us the entire day.  He gave us the strength and ability to enjoy the day and have fun with our kids.

Just like my Mama would have wanted.

As I sat in the quietness of the night, I thought about what this Easter meant to my heart.  It was much different.  Instead of approaching it with joy in the reminder our Lord has risen, and He now lives sitting at the right hand of our Heavenly Father waiting to come back to get those who belong to Him ... the very thing I long for more than anything else ... I approached it with much dread.

I still have the joy in my heart that I serve a living Lord.  I still long for Heaven.

Oh how I long for Heaven!

But I realized that Easter also represents even more.

It's a reminder of the hope.

The hope I have in Jesus.  His resurrection gives me the hope of being with Him.  The hope I have that one day I will sit in His lap.

The hope in knowing my Mama is with Jesus ... my Nannie is with Jesus ... and they are together.  The hope I have that I will one day be with my Mama and Nannie again.

I long for Heaven more today than ever.  I am grateful that because my Jesus died on the cross for my sins ... for the sins of my Mama and Nannie ... and He rose again on the third day, I now have the hope and joy implanted deep within my heart I will one day be in Heaven also.

Hope and joy in the reminder we serve a living Lord is what Easter represents.  The reminder that Jesus bore all of my sins.  He was beaten and tortured far beyond anything I will ever experience.  He hung on a cross in agony and pain.  He paid my ransom.  He died and was buried in a tomb.  But on the third day they discovered the tomb was empty.  He had risen.  He is alive.  He sits on the the right hand of God the Father.

"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2

He loves me.

He prays for me.

He gives me the strength to take my next breath.

He gives me the grace to get through the next moment when I can't.

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful" - Hebrews 10:23

That very hope and joy gives me faith.  The faith I have knowing and believing that Jesus is my Savior.

The faith to believe His word is the absolute truth.

The faith in knowing He is all I need.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1

As you can see I have spent a lot of time in Hebrews lately.  It's by God providence that at the time my Mama would be called home I would be deep in a bible study titled, "Hoping for Something Better" by Nancy Guthrie ... a study based on the book of Hebrews.

A bible study written by someone who has experienced deep loss ... the loss of two children.

God is forever faithful.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8

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