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Sunday, 22 September 2013

A Grief Observed...

It was not my husband, dad, brother or granddad that died and still I feel loss.  Loss mainly for those that are still here and suffering - really, really suffering because they loved a man that sincerely loved them back.  It's so rare in this messed up world.  Christian or not, young or old, rich or poor - to have someone that loves you sincerely is a rare gift indeed.  Alan Sr. loved his wife.  He loved his children.  He loved his grandkids.  They loved him back. 

Attending a funeral is one thing.  Getting everything prepared, living in the house of the deceased one's loved ones, trying to be helpful but also trying to stay out of the way - nothing could have prepared me for the last week.  Still I think the worst is yet to come in a lot of ways.  Last week we all had each other and sweet Chloe to distract us and make us laugh.  This week you're just alone with your memories and a few latent cards or visitors. 

Still there is light.  Light in the eyes of a friend who picks you up from the airport, takes you to your car an hour and a half away, refuses any payment for gas and then gives you homemade cakes, breads, cheese, fruit, chocolates and meat from his wife that is meant to sustain you over the next 24 hours when all the shops are shut. Light when that same friend and your pastor help to jumpstart your car that has died while you were away by rolling it down a hill.  Even when that friend was missing his own leg he was still willing to help. Light in the hugs and concerns of those you see at church that ask you how you're doing and really want to stay and hear your answer.  Light in the family that kept your dog on no notice and took care of arrangements for your pickup and gave you fresh fruit from their garden when you got home.  Light in a mom and dad and two sisters who offer help, love, lots of prayers and anything else really you could ever need.  And most importantly light in the eyes of the man God gave you for a husband who even though he's hurting as much as you've ever seen him hurt takes the time to tell you at the airport, "I don't care if we live in England.  I don't want if we live in Germany.  I don't even care if we live in Georgia.  My home now is wherever you are."  Despite it all we trust in a God who really does care.  He really does love.  He really does have a purpose and plan for our lives and it's at these times we really feel it.  Putting one foot in front of the other.  That's what we'll do for a while and that's ok.

The day of Alan's funeral my devotion, Day by Day with Billy Graham said this,
"Title: Jesus is our Comforter
Christ is the answer to sorrow.  When Harry Lauder, the great Scottish comedian, received word that his son had been killed in France, he said, "In a time like this, there are three courses open to man: He may give way to despair and become bitter.  He may endeavor to drown his sorrows in drink or in a life of wickedness.  Or he may turn to God.  There are thousands of people who have turned to God, but you may be still carrying your burdens.  God begs of you, "Cast all your care on me, for I care for you" (I Peter 5:7).  You who must go through the valley of the shadow of death, you who must say goodbye to those whom you have loved, you who suffer privation and misery, you who are unjustly persecuted for righteousness' sake - take heart, take courage.  Our Christ is more than adequate for sorrow."

“The death of a beloved is an amputation.”
C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Good-bye summer, hello fall! :)

Well since I last wrote, we wrapped up a great visit with Alan's family and sweet friends in England.  We also managed to sneak a couple of days in Holland at the end of our trip just the three of us which was really, really nice. Here are some pictures of our time away.

So what's next...

Well, this is currently what we're planning for the fall:
The Loft (Continued construction work) - ongoing each week
MOPS and the Faithbook Club - Tuesday and Friday mornings with Chloe as well as play dates, moms nights outs and other events
Jesus Abend's at SAM for Alan - Monday evening in Waldorf and Friday evening in Sinsheim

Cell Group for Mary - starts Wednesday Sept 18th
Euro Intent Ground Team - last week of September
KurbisFest at the CVJM - end of October
The wedding of Jonas and Elisabeth (our third German wedding) - end of October
Teen Missions Team from Australia and New Zealand - Dec 27th - Jan 18th
Our apologetic style book studies will continue in the New Year as well as more language study for us both.  We've also applied for more Edge teams for next summer and are hopeful to receive a team from our sending church in Georgia as well so there will be planning and details to organize for that. 

The most fun thing we're doing right now is experimenting with a new bread maker that we got four years ago for a wedding gift but have never used. In Germany we figured out we spend nearly 3 Euros a day (and sometimes more!) on bread for our family.  A loaf of bread in the bread maker costs roughly 60p.  Sooooo we will save over 2 Euros a day or roughly 60 Euros just on BREAD - AND it's sooo nice to have hot bread each morning.  I can have my 100% whole grain breads and Alan can make his white bread and we're both happy.  I wish I knew how easy it was to use.  I would have started a long time ago!  Right now Alan is in the kitchen making his first batch of hot cross buns.  Last weekend he made homemade pizza dough.  I would LOVE to retire from the kitchen and let Alan take over.  Maybe he'll take after his dad and become the chef in the family! One can dream... :)
Other than that Chloe continues to grow like a weed.  She's successfully given up her pacifier during the days now and gets rewarded with various treats (like the swimming pool with daddy today).  She can open our apartment door now with the key, is talking a ton and got her feelings hurt for the first time when a not so sweet girl at the playground was mean to her and said she wasn't allowed to play with them (in German but still Chloe understood fully).  Her little eyes welled up with tears and she looked at me like, "momma, what did I do?". :( I felt terrible for her but know disappointments and sadness caused by the selfishness and insecurities of others will be something she must learn to live with.  I told her after that just because the other little girl wasn't sweet doesn't mean Chloe shouldn't still be sweet and that sometimes people just aren't nice and that makes us very sad. Even at two, she seemed to understand.

Alan and I would love for Chloe to have a little sister or brother so pray that we can before we get too much older!  I fell chasing Chloe the other day and was reminded of how old I really am. Ah well, we're young at heart (or you would think so if you were a fly on the wall in our house sometimes.  Our favorite thing to do lately is all lie in the "BIG bed" and Chloe from the middle takes turns pushing daddy and mommy onto the floor. We laugh and giggle and tickle each other, play hide and seek and just let joy fill the house.  We honestly couldn't feel more blessed.  
Some prayer requests as we sign off.  Pray for us as things kick start again at our church next week and as the fall approaches.  Pray for friendships to be developed for us and for Chloe.  Pray for a house we can move into with a garden that is close to our church but also cute and safe for Chloe.  We are grateful for you all!