This post was originally written on the Monday morning after Easter Sunday. It is not so much a description of a resurrection practice as it is a grateful reflection on resurrection glory in our family story this year. After about six years of critical health issues, two terrifying wildfires, and the deaths of 3 close members within our immediate family we are living into the reality of the empty tomb with this sweet story. I have shared it elsewhere as you will see below - but for me, it's the shining, shimmering ray of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. So it bears repeating this Eastertide season.
Well, to be honest, she's not exactly a girl anymore. And she's not the only wonderful female who blesses my life by calling me "Mom." But...today, tonight...as I sit and savor what the Lord has given, she is still (and always) - my girl.
She came as a bit of a surprise to us - young, idealistic couple that we were, living thousands of miles from home. But come she did, and this girl (and her two siblings) changed our lives in ways that were profound and wonderful. Our first-born was always a study in interesting contrasts: full of energy, but loving to sleep; cute as a button and surprisingly petite for such tall parents; winsome and thoughtful, yet sometimes stubborn and hard to read; an artistic soul who was also gifted at mathematics and logic. A huge, compassionate heart with a deep-rooted desire to be a wife and mom - all of this we witnessed with wonder as she grew to young womanhood under our roof.
She met the man she would marry just before her 16th birthday, at our dining room table. He was the son of a long-time friend and we had invited their family over to celebrate his 2-year remission from childhood cancer. Their eyes met over the dessert and love was born.
Six weeks after that first meeting, her young man entered into a serious 2nd go-round with cancer and began about six months of heavy-duty chemo, followed by major surgery and radiation. All of this served to push their emotional connection into fast forward, and they were married just after her freshman year of college.
They took out loans and both finished school - he with a master's in IT and she with a bachelor's in anthropology and an art minor. They moved 400 miles away and began to produce beautiful grandsons for us to enjoy and marvel at - something they were never sure they'd be able to do, given his medical history. Three boys and about 18 years later, her sweet man began to suffer from a whole series of difficult after-effects from all that life-saving but terribly hard-on-the-body treatment.
And she walked right with him through all of it - a trial by fire for them both. When the end came, it was swift and sudden. A widow at 40, with boys aged 17, 14 and 10. Their bedroom door stayed firmly closed for a full year, collecting odds and ends as she and her kids moved through their grief and sorrow.
On the one-year anniversary of his death, she went from the small den where she had set up a single bed and a big desk for herself into the bedroom they had shared. She looked around and thought, "It's time. Time to remodel this space and make it lovely once again."
So she found a gifted contractor - on the recommendation and introduction of her associate pastor. He was gentle, gifted, artistic and they had a really good time working together on the details of house and yard. It was wonderful to see her creative gifts being set loose again and we all marveled at the transformation in her spirit as she made plans and chose colors and began to move into this lovely space.
And last Easter, she invited her builder to come to dinner - "Because he has no where else to go, Mom. Don't make a big deal out of this." And so we met him, this man, the builder. And we liked him immediately. Her boys liked him, too. And we all wondered...is God doing a new thing here?
About two months later, she called and said, "OK, Mom. You can make a big deal now. I think I'm in love - and it feels like a gift straight from God to me and the boys."
So. It was Easter again yesterday. And we all gathered again at her home. The meal was lovely - this year completely vegetarian. After all, this builder has been a vegetarian for 25 years! And as we gathered in a circle to thank God for the food, for the reason for the day, for the gift of forever life because of Jesus, she said:
"Thank you all so much for coming. And before we begin to pile our plates, I have an important announcement to make. Last week, my builder proposed and I said yes. We are so thankful to God and to all of you for loving us through this journey." And then she asked her builder to pray. And he did.
A favorite blogger of mine is writing today about new life being birthed from the womb of darkness - everywhere we look, this pattern is true. And from the darkness of a difficult and terribly sad time, we are witnesses to the power of resurrection life in our girl's story. And we are so very thankful.
And here are some pictures from yesterday's celebration:
Her ring - which will serve as both engagement and wedding ring.
Two shots from the slide show they used to celebrate this special part of their story - one of the builder, one of the two of them with her younger boys - big brother is studying in London this term and was deeply missed yesterday.
The two of them, glowing for the camera.
Joining tonight with Michelle and LL. Not exactly a typical "hear it on Sunday..." post, but somehow it fits.
And this is most definitely where my thoughts are 'on, in and around' this particular Monday!