Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Holding on to Hope

Really, that's ultimately what God gives us: hope.

These past few years have been so challenging to me. Kind of like a roller coaster of trusting God. My brother's death. Birth of Meredith. Mike becoming a pastor. Unexpectedly expecting Jeffrey. Moving to Montana. Joy being so sick. Unexpectedly expecting Morgan. Grammy's sudden death. Joy's sickness resulting in death.

All of that in seven years - really most of it in just five years.

I remember seeing a stress test once where you gave yourself points for the things that had happened in the last year. The most points, the higher the stress level and the greater the possibility for stress induced illness like depression. Let's just say that my score is very high right now!

While I know that I am prone to depression - I've been there before - it's not fun nor pretty...somehow this time I seems to be holding on. To what? Peace. Hope. God.

All synonymous. God is Hope so He becomes Peace.

Today is the anniversary of Grammy's death. Just two years ago. Elizabeth Thompson. She was an amazing, feisty woman. With a great sense of humor. I wish I could find the picture I managed to catch of her when I was seventeen. She used to push her dentures out of her mouth to make a funny face - but only when the grandkids were looking. Our parents never really believed us (or maybe they did it was just all part of the fun). I used to try and prove that she had done it. One day I sat while she played with one of my younger siblings and managed to "catch her in the act". And that was before digital. I had to wait for the film to be developed and hope that I had caught her.

We took a trip to NJ two summers ago to see family. It really wasn't a trip we could afford. I've gone over that trip in my mind many times, trying to think how we could have done it without going into debt to do it. My only answer is that I regret that we hadn't been wiser with our money before so that we could have spent saved money to take that trip. However, I do not regret that trip. Even when the bill is still being paid.

That trip was to "introduce" Morgan Elizabeth to Grammy. Even though Grammy was weak, God made Morgan small and Grammy was able to hold her. We stayed for three days. Each of my kids spent time - just them - with Grammy. She wasn't really sick - she sat on the couch in her green pants and orange top, with a tissue in her sleeve and a rubber band on her wrist - just in case.

She had gone to take a nap the afternoon that we were leaving. I really didn't want to wake her up, but knew if I didn't I would hear about it later. We went in and gently said good bye. She patted each of the kids and said good bye, calling them by name. Her hugs were sweet and smelled like Grammy. It is a good smell.

We loaded up the van and drove to Philly to drop Mike at the airport. Looking back, that was the crazy part of the trip. The part where after the fact you think, "Why did I ever think that was a good idea?" He would fly back to Montana and I would drive back with the six kids - Morgan being two months old. After I dropped him at the airport, I went through McDonald's drive thru to get the kids some dinner so we could get some miles under our belt before bed. I ordered and then my phone rang. It was my mother. As I accepted our drinks, mom told me Grammy had died. The poor McDonalds worker was unsure how to deal with this woman accepting her food who seemed happy and polite one moment and in uncontrollable tears the next.

I pulled over and handed out food, then walked behind the van and called Mike. What was I supposed to do? Go back? Go get Mike? Keep driving?

It was very difficult to make the decision to keep driving. Mike had to go home. I couldn't handle the kids in that situation and I'm not sure the kids would have handled it either.

The very cool part was that my grandfather was concerned about me driving back. We talked all five days - several times a day. That is a memory I will cherish.

It rained for the first three days of the drive. It was as though God was grieving with me. Or for me.

There were so many little reminders of her all along the trip. The tiger lilies along the side of the road, that really should have bloomed earlier in the season. The rubber band I had slipped on my wrist while at the house and couldn't bear to take off just looked back at me as I drove with my hands on the wheel.

And the song, "In Christ Alone" that would not leave my mind and seemed to show up on the radio every time I found a local station.

And now, just like I had to wait for the film to be developed to see if I had "caught" Grammy, I am waiting for my life to develop. Except this time, I know God has won, that He has a perfect plan, and that that plan has included everything that has happened on my roller-coaster. I really don't get it, but I can have Peace because He knows the outcome.

There are so many times when I can be going about life as normal and all of the sudden something jumps in front of me to remind me of Grammy, or Joy, or Jeremy. It never goes away, and I don't want it to.

I don't want to become used to life without them. I want the constant reminder that God is in control - that He has won - that He knows the plan - that He wants the best for me, for my family - current and family to come.

I am grateful for the heritage and example that my grandmother shared.

I look forward to seeing her again. To tell her funny jokes. And to borrow a rubber band.


Heasleye said...

Oh Jenn...hugs to you my friend. What a wonderful tribute to your Grammy and to God's gentleness you have shared. Thank you for being real. Hanging on to His hope along with you...


Deedeeuk said...

My dear friend! I'm reading through tears as I await a similar phone call any day now.

Your Grammy was a dear and wonderful lady! I will never forget her trying to teach Matt and me to swallow vitamins!We were staying with her while Mom was in hospital having the next one of the family. Your Grammy didn't have any chewable vitamins in the house and we didn't know how to swallow grown up vitamins! We must have drank a gallon of OJ trying to swallow those tablets that morning! Too funny! It is crazy the things we remember isnt' it? She was just so patient and so determined that we COULD do it! LOL!

I wouldn't want to walk this road without Christ and don't know how others face getting up everyday when they don't have that hope in Him! (((HUGS)))

Trish D said...

Oh, Jenn, I'm definitely praying for you. Thanks for sharing from your heart; life is certainly not easy, but what a blessing to know that God is in control of it all.

"...but I can have Peace because He knows the outcome"


nicole said...

I'm so thankful of God's reminders throughout tough times and thankful you have been able to see those reminders through your five years of stress...and write about them. Thank you for sharing and making me teary eyed this morning.

I hope you encounter more reminders today. Much love to you today.

Anonymous said...

Love to you Jenn- Thank you for the reminder to just keep rememebering!
Carrie S

Dona said...

I have been your occasional blog stalker. But, I wanted to tell you in response to this post that I can relate. totally relate. My mom passed away 2 years ago at the age of 54.
Maybe God is trying to get my attention again because last night I came across a blog that spoke volumes to me along the same lines as yours. The author is a pastor in Australia. Check out his blog. jesusandmark.citywestchurch.com.au

Ivy Six-Pack said...

Thank you all for such wonderful words! It is amazing how God works. He really allowed me to "muddle" through my grief over the past two days and then today He said, "Time to do life!" I have been running most of the day with little time to have a "pity-party". He is so GOOD!

terri said...

Thanks for sharing this. You're a good woman, Jenn. :)