27 December 2010

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts: Phenomenal Family, Friends and Heavenly Father

"Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future."
~Gail Lumet Buckley

This last week has been a hard week that has just gone on and on... The Lord decided it was time for Tim's precious mama, our kids' grandma, a dear woman who was so much more than just a mother-in-law - I truly consider her godly example, mentor and a wonderful friend - to celebrate this Christmas with Him in heaven.

We do rejoice for her,  but our hearts ache for us: we will miss her... we were, in fact, already missing her...

We aren't the first missionaries who've walked this road: losing a loved one while far from home and not able to return for the funeral or memorial service. I'm quite sure we aren't even the only ones for whom God has ordained this path this Christmas season. As we watched her health deteriorate from afar, as Tim made the trip home to spend a few weeks with his parents just last month, we had to contemplate this possiblity. A fellow missionary friend told me how valuable it is, if you an make the trip home to be with your family during those initial days of grieving... maybe because I knew it wasn't possible for us, I somewhat dismissed her comments and figured we'd be okay... we'd figure it out.. or something...

Now that this time is upon us, I understand the wisdom of those words. For our extended family, grieving together back home - they have the privilege of being together, of stepping outside their normal routine to take that time to grieve, to remember, to laugh and cry, to share hugs. It is much harder to do that here - people don't as easily understand why you aren't fulfilling obligations if you haven't left to attend the funeral; it is hard to feel a part of what we want (even need) so badly to be a part of when there is an ocean and several time zones between us. It is hard to find time in busy routines to be still, remember, mourn and celebrate the life of an amazing woman when there is no gathering of family and friends, no one coming to pay their respects, no funeral, no special meals. We know it is real... yet it all feels so surreal...

And then a still, small voice deep within reminded me that my Lord and my God does know all about this... He's walked this road in a much deeper, more intense sense. God sent Jesus... His perfect missionary... to this world. Christ became sin for us and then died, a profound separation for those who'd always enjoyed perfect unity. They sorrowed alone, apart from the one they loved most.

It isn't that bad for us. We do have each other. We have a beautiful famiy who's loved and prayed for us from afar. We have amazing folks here who've loved us. We also have this privilege of knowing that God has allowed us to glimpse, to know just a little bit, the loneliness of sorrwoing apart, a path He chose to know for our sakes ~

#662 lots of pictures and treasured memories

#663 one of those images, forever etched on my heart: shortly before we left the States, we tried to go see the local team play baseball... the game ended up being rained out. And we had so much fun. As the kids and their friends ran like wild ones all over the grass waiting for the game to be called, Grandma and Grandpa sat snuggled together under a tarp and umbrellas, watching, laughing and enjoying. We called it the night we had more fun because the game was rained out... and I'm so thankful that is such a vivid picture of Mom and Dad together...

#664 the example of a dad who loved so very well, taking such good care of Mom, watching over her and protecting her the very best he could

#665 big brothers

#666 good advice

#667 tears shed by strong men

#668 realizing once again just what a beautiful young woman she's become and why we wanted our little one to share her name

#669 the sound of a Menonite choir

#670 the knowledge that death has been swallowed up in victory, and that its sting, while sharp, is only temporary

#671 the promise of a future and a hope

#672 film projections where many experience the story of Jesus and His message for the first time in their heart language

#673 Christmas Eve Sunday School programs and remembering the miracle of His incarnation

#674 Christmas morning praise and worship, followed by potluck and fellowship

#675 Reconfirmation from heaven that even though we aren't necessarily physically where we wish we were, God has placed us here and we are part of His plan to reach this land with His Gospel.

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