It’s one of those things that you see in a movie and it seems so real, but then when it happens in real life it feels like a movie.
That’s all I could think as I sat next to my sisters in a crowded sanctuary, watching the Chief hand my mother the perfectly folded flag and tell her how much my father would be missed. The thought of her sobbing, and my 9 year old sister sitting beside her rubbing her arm, whispering to her that it would be alright, is almost unbearable even as I write nearly a year later.
Being the oldest of us 5 girls, I figured I’d be the strong one. I thought that I would be the one that would go and comfort my family and take care of the things that needed to be done so that my mom didn’t need to think about it. But when the time came… when I actually got there, I realized that I was useless. I had no idea what to do, no idea what to say, and no power to do anything to relieve anyone of their pain… or confusion… or even their responsibilities.
You know who was the strong one…Abbie. She was only NINE then! I watched her every moment, sit beside my mom and rub her back as she cried, hold her close while she tried to wrap her mind around what had just happened, and sleep next to her so she wasn’t alone. The more I saw Abbie and her caring heart, the more ashamed I felt because all I wanted to do was go hide in a corner and be alone. I just wanted to be somewhere else. Somewhere I didn’t have to watch the people I love the most suffering.
I…I hated it.
Why am I writing this right now? I don’t really know. I think maybe this is part of how I process grief. But also, my father’s death has made me so acutely aware of how wonderful life is…and how short all at the same time. I find that I’m seeing things in light of love; seeing the beauty in ashes if you will. I want to take it all in…because if I don’t I just might miss everything.
It amazes me how the Lord uses people in my life to show me how weak I am…so that I can also see where He intends to make me strong, and to inspire me to be better than I actually am. Abbie is not the only one who has ever been used like that to humble me.
Take my mom for example. She never once uttered a word about losing her husband being unfair. She lost the love of her life and yet I saw her set her own heartache aside in order to attend to the brokenness of her daughters. That’s amazing!
Aside from that situation though, there are countless people who have caused me to stand in awe of the Lord simply because of who they are.
My friend Rachel Gonzales. She is a prayer warrior, let me tell you. If I ask her to pray for something, she will…unitl there’s an answer. She prays for me in areas that I forget to pray for myself!
And Dave Gonzales…he really is a man after God’s own heart. I love worshiping through music with him. I tend to get caught up in how the “crowd” is reacting to our song choice, or how we’re sounding, or whether or not people are “getting into it”. But Dave is a lead worshiper. He goes to the throne of God with full abandon, unashamed. And we cannot help but follow suit.
Then there’s April Strahan. April would do absolutely anything for her friends. One time I was in the hospital about to have a procedure done that I have never had before, and I was talking to her on the phone about how nervous I was (to be completely honest…I was crying because I was afraid to go through it alone). “I’m coming down there!” she said. And then she drove 6 hours to be there with me. I want to be a friend like that.
Sometimes, it’s not even the big things that people do that astound me, it’s the little things they do every day.
Lucas Harger…I think he’s the most passionate person I know. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing; he doesn’t hold anything back. He doesn’t even serve coffee dispassionately!
Oh…Marcia Roorda and Sandy Landergien! They are both mothers who have severely handicapped children (along with several other children) and all I ever see in them is patience, grace, and prayer.
Miranda and Kegan Fregeau…their first born son died in Kegan’s arms at only 2 months old…their reaction blew me out of the water and straight to the feet of Jesus: “You alone are good! I will praise You even still”.
Oh that I would have an unshakable faith like theirs!
Eliot To…he sees a spiritual application in everything. Whenever I talk to him, I walk away with a new perspective on something. I wouldn’t be surprised if he perceived some sort of spiritual application in the Rubick’s cube!
And my dear John and Vickie Poust: they opened their home to me and welcomed me into their family without really knowing me at all. I lived there for 3 years before they would receive any money for rent, or food, or gas. All because they wanted me to be able to go to school and do missions, and because that’s how they chose to serve the body of Christ; by giving everything they had.
So why am I saying all of this? Where is all of this coming from?
Well, for one thing, I want people to know that they have made an impact on my life.
The last “deep” conversation I had with my dad was in his garage, and he told me he has always been proud of me. About a month later, while I was in Mexico with CTI, my family sent me a letter, and on the envelope my mom had written, “Your dad says he loves you and that he’s in Awe of you!”
I will never forget that! The feeling of knowing that I contributed something to his life is…priceless.
Now I know that some girl writing a blog, saying that you have enhanced her life, is vastly different from your father telling you the same thing. But, none the less…please know that you have greatly impacted me and my faith, and have caused me to chase after Christ with passion and full abandon.
The other reason I say all this…and the reason for which I mention those people by name, is not to put them on a pedestal, or make other people feel like they aren’t good enough for my little Hall of Faith here. Rather, I mention them so that the next time you see them, (or meet them) you might see the same things in them, and be as encouraged as I am. Perhaps the LORD will use them in that moment, as He has in my life so many times, to fan the flame of your heart…and to show you all the areas in which He desires to build you up…from weakness to strength.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work -Ephesians 4:16