"For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling; I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living." Psalm 116:8&9

Monday, March 14, 2011

Layla's Birthday

Layla turned two this weekend. While I'm a big believer in celebrating birthdays, I'm not a big believer in over-the-top birthday parties, especially for two-year-olds. I understand the one-year-old birthday parties. There is much to be celebrated in conquering that first year of life - especially for mommy! And I understand birthday parties for 3, 4 and 5 year-olds. Those kids are old enough to know what is going on and enjoy/remember it. But the two-year-old party is different. The child doesn't really understand what is going on. There is usually a beautiful melt-down caused by too much sugar and over-stimulation. And they don't remember it. So, my old self would not have had a party for Layla this year. But the new me decided to throw a party.

Layla's birthday is exactly one week after Barry's death. So last year, Layla celebrated her one-year-old birthday with a mommy who was a complete and total disaster. I don't remember much of the day. What I do remember is this: my friend made Layla a cake, the presents she opened were not from me, and I cried - a lot. There wasn't a celebration of Layla, there was just grief. And it was so sad, because there is much to be celebrated in Layla. When God gave me her, He gave me a glimpse of what eternal joy will be like. Her tiny little body is full of joy and love. So this year, it was important for me to celebrate her. To celebrate all that God has blessed me with in her. To celebrate that during her first year of life, she had a daddy who adored her and in her second year of life, she had a heavenly father who protected her and blessed her in a beautiful way.

Saturday, we had a birthday party for Layla. It was small - just family and her two little friends. It was the first time I had a party at my house since Barry passed away. The kids played in a bounce house in the back yard. We had good food and laughed. There was no pressure for everything to be perfect. But, everything was perfect. Layla and I were surrounded by our favorite people, rejoicing in the precious life that is Layla Joy. It was another sweet picture of God continuing to heal and restore our family. I am thankful. (And fully aware that she won't remember a second of it... but I will!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

One Year

Today is the one year anniversary of Barry's death. All week long, my mind has been flooded with memories of the events that took place at this time last year. It has been painful. Many tears have been shed. And yet, over and over again, I have found great comfort and strength in remembering how the Lord worked in my life last year.

In the weeks leading up to Barry's death, God was preparing my heart for what was coming. A dear friend encouraged me to read A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper. My time in the Scriptures was incredibly rich and challenging. Friends were very present in our lives, loving and encouraging us. And once Barry went into the hospital, my mind began to recall passages of Scripture and the promises of God in a very vivid and powerful way. It was obvious that the Holy Spirit was pouring the truth of who God was over me - giving me strength and hope in the most difficult moment of my life.

So, in remembering everything that happened last year, I have found myself grieving and rejoicing all at once. I have been grieving over the tragedy that occurred, but rejoicing over the generosity of God in carrying me through it.

At the same time this week, God has also been reminding me of His generosity to send the Holy Spirit to comfort me. While conversations and details of what occurred last year are blurry, I can remember the exact timing of significant events - when we called 911, when he was transfered to ICU, when the aneurysm occurred, etc. At those times this year, the Holy Spirit was overwhelmingly generous to encourage me. He moved in the hearts of others to call, text and email at those exact times. They had no clue that they were calling to comfort me at the exact time I was grieving significant events. During the most difficult of those moments this year, literally at the exact minute, I received a very compassionate email and my doorbell rang with a delivery of flowers. Not only is God faithful to give us what we need, He is also overwhelming generous to bless us.

Before losing Barry and walking through this last year of grief, if someone had said the same things I am saying here, I would have smiled politely and commented on the goodness of God, all the while wondering how much was the work of the Holy Spirit and how much was just coincidence. Now, it seems so obvious - God is intimately and intricately involved in the lives of His children. He knows our pain and our weakness and He acts with compassion toward us.

One thing I am confident of - until God calls me home, my life here on earth will continue to be filled with difficulty and pain. It is the result of sin and living in a fallen world. But God is generous in each moment. He not only provided me with Jesus, whose death gave me the ability to be reconciled to Him, but He gave me the Holy Spirit, who reveals, directs and comforts me along the way.

Tonight as I remember the amazing life of my sweet husband, I am thankful. Thankful for each moment with him. Thankful for how he pointed me to Jesus. Thankful for how God blessed me with Barry and how He continues to bless me with Himself.

And just because I can, a picture of us in Israel...