Sorrow and Joy Can Dance Together

Many people ask me how it feels to have Taylor’s wife, Michelle, and friends moving on in life, marrying and having children. The answer to that is very complicated to understand and explain but I’ll try with this oxymoronic truth: In Jesus, sorrow and joy can dance together.

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Somewhere back as a little girl at church, I learned this and believe God knew one day I would need this verse impressed deeply in my heart. As I went through life, I tended to deeply feel the sorrow of others and like most, found it easy to enter into joy with others.

When Michelle, started dating one of Taylor’s best friends, Paul, this verse was again immediately impressed upon my heart. When they were engaged, we came together and all agreed to honor Michelle’s first marriage to Taylor and second marriage to Paul. In all of Taylor’s friends’ celebrations in the last five years, I have allowed myself to cry for the loss that Taylor isn’t here to celebrate with us and didn’t get to experience life events his friends can. In each instance those tears of loss were always mixed with tears of joy as I saw new life and love blooming, perfect gifts from God. More than that, I was honored and blessed to be invited into their joy and celebrations.

Recently, God took me to a new level of understanding in this truth. Paul and Michelle were blessed with a baby girl, Emma. This little angel has stolen my heart and the hearts her parents, grandma’s, and many others. She is a charmer and a flirt one minute and is not afraid to tell you what she wants the next; cute and spunky define her well. I’m also unbiased and convinced she is highly intelligent and God has great plans for her life. Watching her grow and learn is amazing. (I always say if every home had a baby in it, we wouldn’t need any other form of entertainment).

Emma Carla 20171009_094912

Last month, Paul and Michelle invited our family to join their family at Emma’s baby dedication. At this special ceremony, they did something very simple but so meaningful with a moment of silent prayer as the pastor asked us all to lift up all the couples and newborns to the Lord, asking Him to show his deep love to these children that they would, one day, receive His incredible love and gift of eternal life. As we each prayed this privately in our own words, the silence took my breath away as I felt the loving power of those prayers bringing hope and joy to our spirits.

After prayer and the parents returned to their seats, the worship team led us in a beautiful song I hadn’t heard, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. The first line caught my heart, “Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me.” Maybe this was not the intent of the song writer, but in that moment, those two phrases showed me God preparing Emma’s life long ago. Before time began, He planned for beautiful Emma specifically to be born to Paul and Michelle with their DNA and her darling personality.  He also knew our son would be a part of their story and we would be a unique family abundantly blessed by her little life.

As I began listening to more of the song, the Lord pushed my imagination to see a bit of Heaven. While I’m not sure what our loved ones see from the other side, (Hebrews 12), I could almost see Taylor dancing around the throne of God in worship, reveling in the immense reckless love of his Creator and Savior. I could see our son smiling and looking down on us with his clear-eyed vision of truth and eternity – a bit cloudy to us on earth. He now fully understands God’s sovereign plan for all of us – Paul, Michelle, their families, Gary, me, our other kids and now, Emma. Without complicated earthly emotions, our Heaven-dwelling son gets it: God planned Emma’s life before time began and is rejoicing along with us in God’s sovereign plan. Taylor knows this new sweet life is an amazing gift that will be a joy to watch as it blooms in God’s love and blesses us along the way.

This summer, I’m looking forward to another joyous occasion as we are honored to be hosting with Gary officiating the wedding of Taylor’s closest friend, Jamison, who is marrying one of our daughter’s closest friends, Emily, in our backyard, where they all grew up with our children. I’m praying God might give Taylor a glimpse of that happy day, which he prayed for six years ago. I will shed some tears missing his presence at this new celebration but will shed even more happy tears for the new journey and new life of another couple in our story.

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Renewed Promise of Hope

June 21-22, 2014

One year ago tonight, we were rehearsing for the happiest day of our lives. There were many obstacles trying to prevent Taylor and Michelle’s wedding from being all they had dreamed. Her wonderful mother, Dana, and I were nervous as so many things seemed to be going wrong. As we were trying to quietly practice the wedding ceremony, the double booked party at our event center began to spread outside where we were.

Out popped a very dear CVCS teacher who was close to most of the wedding party, Claudia Mehlhaff. As we visited with her, the joy and concern disappeared from mine and Michelle’s mom’s faces. As we turned back to finish the rehearsal, this beautiful perfect rainbow, photographed by my brother, Matt, hung over the backdrop to the wedding ceremony. Dana and I knew the wedding was to be perfect and God wanted us to trust Him with everything.

The wedding day was anointed and many commented on the sweet joyful spirit that filled the evening. We all felt the special presence of the Holy Spirit and I wondered at the time why He would shower us with so much joy and hope. He knew we would have to hold onto that moment as the year passed on from there. He also knew that I would need my precious “daughter-in-love” to sweeten our lives. I’m so grateful for her!

This week has been perhaps one of the hardest for me, yet today as I was allowing myself to grieve today, at just the right moment God sent a text through someone, who normally does not text me, with a word of encouragement, He prompted a friend to call me that I was aching to talk to, and He gave me a massage therapist who understood my faith and needed to hear my story today for her own encouragement. All week messages from so many on Facebook and others I have seen have loved on me for God reminding me of His rainbow promise from last year. He is so faithful!

Once again I began to start thanking God for his constant faithfulness to meet me where I am and to help me get through another stage of grief, another first, another “should have been”. I’m thankful for Michelle and her wonderful family, for my precious husband and our amazing children, Shawn, Drew, Bethany, Angie and Josie. I’m thankful for Taylor and Michelle’s friends and their constant love and support and for all of them, like Paul, who are taking such good care of our “daughter-in-love”. I’m again thankful for all of you who have been so faithful to pray and love on us this year in ways I’ve never felt loved before!

Most of all I’m thankful for our story of hope: When grief hits so hard I can’t breathe, I can look up to the Giver of Hope and rejoice knowing He has overcome the world!

John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Bethany’s favorite verse).Image