Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Priceless Gift of Family

Our family recently went through another round of, shall we say, excitement. We nearly lost our daughter in law Crystal to complications of diabetes. The very day she got out of ICU, my mother in law went home to be with the Lord. And thus began another journey of trusting in God’s sovereignty.

Mark and I headed out early on Monday morning for Council Bluffs, Iowa to be with Dad and Mark’s sister. The 11 hours in the car gave us a bit of time to catch our breath and also to prepare our hearts for the grief that would encompass us. Dad was doing well and as I know from experience, there will be moments of immense grief to come. But for now, he was relieved that we were there.

Tuesday brought a trip to the funeral home to see Mom’s body for the first time. So hard. Dad wept as he looked upon her still lifeless body. But tears are a cleansing thing, a good thing. 54 years is a long time to love someone. And love her he did. Wednesday was viewing and an even harder day. Thursday Mark, Dad and I headed for Kokomo Indiana for Mom’s burial. Our kids would all meet us there on Friday.

Just when you think you are in a situation alone, the ones who love you most arrive and the Lord opens your eyes to the gift of family and just how much they love you. Our kids were, well, absolutely amazing! Once we realized there were no plans for a funeral for Mom, I called our kids and they quickly agreed to make it happen. Andrew opened with a beautiful prayer and through his tears of grief and thankfulness read scriptures of comfort. Jeremy prepared a brief message and reminded us to be thankful for the comfort of the Lord, knowing that Mom was in eternity with God. We sang a hymn together and Mark closed with the most wonderful prayer I have ever heard from him. God is sooo good! The guys all pitched in to carry Mom’s casket to the hearse. Such gentlemen!! They were so respectful of her. We took dad to the gravesite and stood there as they placed her body in the crypt. And we walked away.

Angie had reserved tables at a local restaurant so she and Crystal headed on over there with the little ones. We enjoyed lunch together and then went to a park where Mark played as a child. Dad enjoyed watching as the “big kids” and little kids went down the slides and rode the swings. We finished the day with a trip to Mom’s favorite ice cream place. We sat outside and ate our cones together while the grandkids played in the grass. What a sweet day the Lord had given us. No harsh words, no tension, no disappointment or conflict. Just a perfect day of pure godly love and family.

We, and Dad, are so very thankful for the expression of love and respect Angie & Jeremy, Andrew & Crystal, Andrea & Clay showed that day. It will forever be engraved on my heart and mind. They drove 7-14 hours in the cars with restless kids to give Dad, Mark and I one day of love and family. What a priceless blessing!

Even now, nearly three weeks later, my eyes fill with tears reminiscing about that day and the unadulterated love our children expressed. We are so very blessed. So thankful they all love the Lord and serve Him and exude the love of Christ. Their selfless acts of love spoke volumes. And I praise God for these precious gifts He has given to me. Mark and I are both overwhelmed, and immensely blessed!