Seven Years of Sorrow, Seven Years of Hope

me and livThis is the day. Seven years ago today our daughter Olivia went to be with Jesus.  Each year I spend this season thinking about our lovely, happy brave girl. She was a gift from God. This is where my thoughts have been.

There is a time after losing a loved one when panic sets in. I read about this in CS Lewis’  A Grief Observed and I have felt it myself. It is the time when you realize you are moving inexorably away from when you were together. First it is a small gap of hours or days and then one day you realize it has become a chasm larger than the Grand Canyon which, by the way,  was crossed by a Wallenda. There is no crossing this. Not in this life.  And you want to go back to the time when it was only a day or a week since being with your dear loved one, or back farther when even though she was ill, she was there and breathing and a smile might come now and then and the loss was not so permanent.

I was sitting by the grave of our daughter a few years back when I felt this selfsame panic, the feeling of leaving behind the dear presence of Olivia. And I do think it was God who comforted me with His truth. This is not the end. This isn’t all there is. Remember the future. Look ahead.  You are moving away but you are also moving toward – toward the kingdom that shall not be shaken where God will wipe away your tears. Forever.

I thank God for making us with imaginations.  Sometimes when I run I am filled with thoughts of heaven and God and grace and majesty and my hands go up in happiness and worship. I picture Olivia in heaven. She is sitting at the feet of Jesus with her hands on the ground behind her as she looks up into his face.  She is having a marvelous time, love and laughter and light abound. And I imagine that with my hands outstretched and hers on the floor of the heavens as she listens to Jesus …..almost our fingers touch.

One day they will. In that unshakable kingdom where tears are wiped away, the chasm dividing us will be no more. My morning run today mirrored my thoughts. It is a cold, bleak day. The tears flow, but the comfort and hope God gives is present too. The winter sun shines. I know spring is coming.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Vivian Walden

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2014-01-24 10.17.27Great is Thy faithfulness oh God my father;

There is no shadow of turning with Thee.

Thou changest not; Thy compassions they fail not.

As Thou hast been thou forever will be.

So says that glorious hymn I’ve sung for as long as I can remember. I sang it. I believed it, or so I thought. But in the last seven months, I KNOW I believe it. God’s faithfulness has been exhibited in this little Russian family as he has healed, helped, and heartened in innumerable ways.

Today, as I made my daily drive to school, I wasn’t alone. A Russian sprite was tucked firmly in her seat as she chattered along to me…asking questions, telling stories….all in English. As she rushed into the preschool room, after an absence of one month, she threw her arms wide and shouted,

” Ms. Lynda!” As if to say, here I am and really, didn’t you miss me?

I smiled as I continued on to my office. Our little Sofya (or Sofia L as she likes to call herself now) is firmly settled in her new country. She chatters on in English scarcely pausing for breath, and I have to remind myself this is the same girl who arrived just seven months ago chattering away in Russian.

One month ago her sister, Mariana, made her appearance…..perfect in every way. I will never forget sitting in that waiting room at 3:30 AM and hearing a quiet voice say,

“Mum?”

I turned and quickly walked to our son-in-law, who threw his arms around me  and burst into tears of joy, relief, thankfulness.  I will also always remember that wonderful nurse who, after examining Mariana, approached the foot of Noel’s bed and stated in firm, clear tones,

“Your baby is perfectly healthy. She is perfect.”

And then, today, a young mother stopped by the school to pick her little girl up. She carried a baby in and showed her off….a perfect little girl who is growing by leaps and bounds.  As I watched her share her blessing with the staff and students and accept the admiration of her lovely baby, I stepped back and swallowed hard.

Yes, God, great is your faithfulness……as You have been, You forever will be..

Snow in the Desert

2014-02-03 14.01.392014-02-03 14.02.052014-02-03 14.01.45Today I attended a Winterfest in the desert. It was a warm, sunny Arizona day, but I was with ice skaters, polar bears, and an igloo. You see, today I visited a classroom extraordinaire. After teaching a unit on winter and polar animals, this magnificent teacher planned a winter day in Arizona. It didn’t just happen; preparations had been going on for a month.

The children’s excitement built as they saw their igloo taking shape and made milk carton polar bears. Snowflakes appeared, dangling from the ceiling, and icicles hung from the corner ‘treehouse’. On the long awaited day, paper plates were taped on stockinged feet, miniature hockey sticks and miniature goal posts took their place  as the children played a game of ice hockey with a nerf ball as the puck . Penguins stood quietly watching and since the air conditioner was turned up to full strength, they had no worries.   A snowball fight ensued with paper snowballs….planned chaos and spontaneous joy with polar bear ice cream to follow.

This is true learning. These children will never forget their adventure into northern climes —- the animals, the sports, and  the teacher who led them there. And over it all hangs the knowledge that the wonderful God of creation made it all. Whether  desert or  winter wonderland, He is the Maker.  God has blessed these children by placing them in a splendid school with a splendid teacher ……… twelve wonderful explorers being led on a glorious journey into the world of learning.

As an educator, it  is almost too wonderful to imagine. As a parent, it is beautiful to see. At this blessed school, it is an everyday occurrence.