Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Healing Letter from Grandma.....

Words from a Grandma's heart always seem to touch deep in the soul!

And today I received such a letter from my Grandma Ardle (my dad's mom). It could not have come at a better time. I do think of my dad everyday and miss his scratchy voice on the phone. When he passed away, I would call his cell phone everday (more than once a day) for a few months just to hear his voice. It broke my heart the day that his number was no longer a working number and I had to find another method to move on.

I called around asking Dad's work buddies questions just to find out who he was. Although he dealt with depression, he was faithful and a good hard-worker. Their answers never seem to heal the missing link to my heart.

However, today's letter from Grandma helped. I had no idea about the crossroad that stood before him long ago and the choice between a great opportunity or to stay close to his family. I'm grateful for my dad's heart & commitment to us kids.

At times when we visited him, I would get extremely frustrated that he would not have long, deep conversations with me. I just wanted to tell him everything! I wanted him to be the grandpa that I saw others had for their children. This comparision was so sinful. He was the best that he knew how to be and for that, I am grateful for my dad.

I debated on whether or not sharing this letter, and it may seem simple to you, but my heart found healing in my Grandma's words. (At least I can always come back to this post and read her words if my letter gets misplaced or thrown away.)

I absolutely adore my Grandma. She is the modern day example of a woman chasing after God's own heart. I have learned so much from her and am deeply grateful for her life & love.

Here's her sweet letter of healing.....

"Dear Jackie,

I just wanted to Thank You for you taking the time to stop by on your very full trip Saturday. It was so good to see you and the children. Josiah is a very special young man and such a sweetheart- When I'm sitting on the porch-swing I can envision him hopping from step to step in the yard-and Lydia, with thos expressive brown eyes that tell you just what she is feeling- checking out the ceremic duck by the crepe myrtle bush. I remember so well when you were Lydia's age, Jackie, and had such fun 'jumping' off the step that used to be in front of the fireplace. Now, too, I have the precious memory of Eliah pulling that little chair out and sitting on it so proudly. They're wonderful youngsters and I know you and Sergio are really great parents.

Hope everything is working out for your future plans, and that you had a good trip back and a chance to rest up. Know it meant a lot to Kathy (my mom) for you to be there for the wedding. I'm really happy for her and wish she & Clark the very best. Am sure Carol (my grandma: mom's mom) was present in everyones thoughts and was looking down with her blessing (as Rick (my dad) would have wanted, too).

I've made a meatload for supper-one of Rick's favorite meals and it was a long time after he passed before I could bring myself to make one. Miss him more than ever but am grateful for the time we had and for the time he had with each of you kids- He loved you so much. And I'm grateful to God for those years He granted after Rick overcame his drug addiction. Some long-time friends-who now live in Washington state- visited me yesterday and we were talking about what a good mechanic Rick was. I don't know if I ever told you, but after he and your mom were divorced, Subaru wanted him to come to Texas and be a 'trouble-shooter' for their problems all over the country. I really thought it would be a great opportunity for him, but am proud of him for his choice to stay and be close to his family. That was what was important to him.

Better close now. It's cooler today and Fall is definitely in the air. I need to clean the furnace air filter and finish putting away summer clothes. Can't get over how quickly this year has gone by. We all say "Hi" and looking forward to news of that baby so keep in touch. Take care-You're always in our thoughts & prayers.

Loads of love,

I love you, too, Grandma!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today, I heard God Laugh.....

Sergio and I are in a period of seeking vocational ministry again. In this transition, we have found ourselves in a state of tension regarding finances. With Baby #4 coming in 3 short weeks, it seems that there is still so much more to do....which involves spending more money. The last few months have been filled with extra expenses such as doctor appointments, van problems, and traveling. Let's just say that things have been tight.

Last night was a tough night. Sergio and I had a heated discussion regarding our future, finances, and such. I went to bed angry...& yes, I know that this is not the appropriate response. I went into my childlike stage of throwing a fit and just going to bed. (Bless my sweet, husband!)

I woke up, got everyone ready, & took Josiah to school. I had about an hour before taking the kids to get their haircut, so we headed over to the faithful playplace at Chick-fil-a! I had a huge tug on my heart to read through every Scripture reference that I could find regarding money, tithing, & a giver's heart.

Let's just say that I was convicted.....but, I was not ready to give up. I knew that we needed to pay a large bill within the next few days and it was weighing on me heavily. I said to God, thanks for the Scripture & I believe your promises, but come on, money in the amount of $xxx just doesn't fall from the sky!!

I had the final word! Or so I thought!

After all the errands, taking naps, we left to pick Josiah up for school. I decided to check the mail & He got me. He had the final word!

In the mailbox was a check from the government that was a refund in the amount of $xxx exactly!!

It was like I heard Him chuckle....why yes, Jackie, I can do anything. I can put that exact amount needed in your mailbox. I am Jehovah Jireh, the Only One who will supply your needs!

Thank you, God, it was fun today....humility is hard, but You are the One worth giving ALL the glory to!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We will lower you through the roof......

The words, "We will lower you through the roof", spoke loudly to me the month of December 2007. In a season of hope, joyfulness, and soon to be new birth of a baby girl, my world was about to turn upside down.

I am ashamed to admit, but I do have a controlling personality, especially when it comes to my home and family. I feel more confident & stable when I am holding onto the reins of my own life. I struggle with this personality default often because our Amazing Creator is the One who I want to take the reins and lead me toward His good and perfect plan...rather than my own!

This particular December, I was behind on preparing the nursery for our Baby Lydia's arrival. There was so much left to do and only three weeks remained before the scheduled cesearen. With this time crunch, I was on a mission. I had to make curtains, bedding, & all the pink fufu things that go into a daughter's room.

But, before I could begin, one of the biggest ice storms in Joplin hit. Everyone seemed to be affected by the power outages whether it was living without electricity for one hour to a few weeks or having people stay in their homes to keep warm & sane.

We experienced seven, long days without electricity and because we were the only ones on the block that didn't have electricity, the Electric Company told me that we were not their top priority.

Ok, so tell me, what does a 9 month pregnant woman who is also a mom to a three year old do at night? Well, cry of course! I held our 3 year old close and snuggled him tightly in between my husband and myself. Oh, I had the "woe is me" attitude and it was coming on strong! There was so much that I had to do...the nursery, laundry, deep cleaning (nesting), and just mentally prepare!!

We woke up on the 17th and I looked at Sergio and said, "I don't think it can get any worse!". (Side note...never say those words, because it can!)

He gently kissed me and left for work. Our electric was restored and I was thrilled...ok, more like overwhelmed with joy! I even thanked God for getting us through a rough time. My attitude was extremely self-centered.

That same evening, I received a phone call from my little brother, Randy. I answered, "Hello". Silence. "Hello", I repeated.

"Jackie", his voice cracks, "tell me it's not true. TELL ME IT'S NOT TRUE!"

I had no clue what he was talking about. My mind raced through all the possibilities in a matter of seconds. I sat down in the kitchen.

"Randy, what is wrong? What happened?"

"It's Dad!" And the sobs continued from his end.

"What? Where's Dad? What happened?

"He's dead, Jackie. Tell me it's not true!!! TELL ME IT'S NOT TRUE!"

I told him that I had to call Grandma and that I would call him back.

After speaking with my Grandma and to those who found him, the pieces all came together. My Dad was a mechanic and worked at the same place for 15 years or longer. He left work, grabbing tape, a pipe, and maybe even a pen and paper. He drove up in the salvage yard to which he decided would be his resting place. He taped up the air vents, connected the pipe to the exhaust, and taped up every crack that he could find....killing himself by carbon monxiode poisioning.

With the car running, he sat there and wrote out his last words. There were words to his coworkers, his friends, and to Grandma. He even wrote, "please tell my kids that I love them". And then shortly later, he was gone.

That night, I packed up our things as well as a bag for Lydia who was only two weeks away from being delivered. I didn't know what to expect or even how I was going to handle seeing my Dad for the last time.

That week was spent planning his funeral while wishing for just one more day with him. I wanted him to meet Lydia. Why could he not wait to meet her? I was selfish in my thoughts even at this point. I did not fully understand the mental illness of depression. I could only think about my kids not knowing their Grandpa and how I would never hear his scratchy voice again...or see his grease stained hands....or feel his scruffy beard when he'd kiss me goodbye....or even drink Pepsi with him while watching TV.

Christmas came and went as a blur. I have no rememberance of this day.

It's now December 31st, Lydia's scheduled birthday! I thought, "Ok, Lord, now we can have some joy come into our life! Now we have a reason to celebrate!" I was trying to believe this, but in reality, how could I celebrate life when I was still mourning death??

The first few hours were hard for me. Would she always be a constant reminder of my Dad's death? Believe me, I really did try to move on. I tried to love her, to hold her, and to look at her like every mother should look at their newborn child, but my grief was still overwhelming.

Four hours after the cesearen, the nurse came in and realized that her color had not changed and that she was not doing well. She was whisked away. We later realized that one of her lungs collasped and the other had pneomnia. Things were not looking good for our sweet, Lydia. She had to be transported to another local hospital where the NICU could take care of her. I had one minute to say goodbye. I could not hold her because she was in an incubator. I just looked out her and saw the blood coming out of her chest from one of the tubes. I could do nothing but cry.

I'm sure that everyone on that floor heard my loud sobs. I could not take it anymore. I just lost my Dad....and I thought that I had lost my daughter.

Once released from the hospital, we checked into the Ronald McDonald House where we'd stay for the next seven days. Luckily, my mom came up and stayed with our son, Josiah, so that Sergio and I could be with Lydia.

I remember leaning over Lydia with my husband and we were both crying. He covered her back with his tears and her feet were soaked in mine. Sergio looked at me and said, "I don't know what to pray!" I didn't have any words either. He just said, "Oh Lord".

It was after 10pm when our friend, Tracy, got up to the NICU. She handed us some Scripture verses and looked us both in the face and said, "Your friends are lowering you through the roof".

I knew what that meant.

Luke 5: 17-19
"One day as he (Jesus) was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus."

I was weak and had no strength left. I could not even arm crawl to our Father, but in a deep time of need, our friends were carrying us to Him and lowering us down the roof to be next to him.

I had lost all control of my surroundings. I had no grasp on any aspect of my family's life. It was time to trust. To be taken to the Only One who never left me, who never forgot me, and who loves me deeply. He is the Almighty God who comforts, heals, and gives peace. And what did I find? I found a Gentle Father and I rested in His arms that evening....for the first time in a long time.

I leaned on the words written by John found in Revelation 7: 9-10, 14-17....

"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'

These (in white robes) are they who have come out of tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore,

'they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!"

And I now hold onto His hand tightly, because He tightly holds the reins of my life. He tells me, 'Behold, I am coming soon! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.'

Whatever happens in between...He IS and ALWAYS will be the One who sits on the throne and I will forever worship matter what this life brings.

I do think about my Dad daily, but in my sadness, my King comes in, whisks me off my feet, and gives me comfort.