Monday, December 16, 2013

To love or Judge

A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor stopped by. Once again, it started with, don't think I am crazy. I love when it starts like this. Usually means something fun:)) She talked about the lamp on top of her mailbox. It is not powered by a switch, instead it is powered by the sun. When the sun sets, the light turns on. When the sign rises, it turns off. The night David passed away, October 26th, the light turned on at sunset a little before six. Normal right? The thing is, the light bulb had been burnt out for months. At this time, she did not know David had passed. She checked with everyone that she could think of that may have changed the bulb. No one. The next day, she found out David passed. She remembered the light. It crossed her mind. Was there a relation? She thought no more about it. Until the next night when it turned on again at dark and off at sunrise. It did this every night, until Wed. Wednesday the 30th the light did not turn on again. Two days ago, as I wrote this blog, I felt the need to look at David's cremation certificate. The day, Wednesday, October 30th. The same day, the light burnt out, the day his body was no more a part of this world.

I think about the weeks before David and I got married. Several people had reservations about our union because in their eyes we were unequally yoked. This perception of others grew heavy on me for years. I searched the bible on what it was that would give this perception. I too had this same perception. It has only been in the last few weeks as I grow in my faith, I learn more, I understand more then ever. Our marriage was only unequally yoked, because of my Americanized version of Christianity. Let me explain................... but first off.....know this is my own conviction. Not that of others. This has been a long journey for me and I am still transforming into the person, mother, friend, daughter God wants me to be.
The first 8 years of our marriage I would harp on David about my concerns from day one. It was a constant argument. What I believed a Christian to be. He would always come back with the same answer. Dana, I believe in God, I believe Jesus is the son of God. But, to ask me to go to the front of church to say I accept? I believe I already have. My relationship with God is one that takes work. And I am not going to lie and say it is perfect just so people will think we are equally yoked, because as far as I am concerned we are.
So, that was it. I loved him, I knew he believed. His way was not my way, but he believed. This started our marriage. This constant conversation that went the same way. For 8 years I had a perception of what a Christian was and is. I was that. I was the one who had it right, David did not. I prayed and prayed and told others to pray for David's heart, because it needed work. I would say his life never really grew closer to God those 8 years, but neither did mine. But, again, I was right.. Why? No not because I am always right:) I think I just heard thunder?:))  But, because I made a commitment in front of the church at the age of 8. And I was right. I was the Christian in the eyes of the Church, David was not.
Two weeks before David was diagnosed with Cancer we had friends over.  I can't remember how. But, in some way our conversation went to our faith. I was always the first to " defend mine." A friend looked at David and said,  How can you believe in God, when you see young children get sick and die in the hospital? Those are children? I was curious for David's answer. I mean what did David know? I never saw him attend bible study? He went to church with me Sunday. But, his faith was not mine. He plain and simply said, they aren't our children. They are God's. They are going home. Perfect, true, not a defensive word in his bone, just truth. And the conversation went on to faith and hope. Two weeks later David was diagnosed with Cancer.
David was always great at all he did. He prided himself on his amazing health, his work ethic, his expert shot in hunting, his dare devil non fear of skiing. Oh and his wonderful wife. You name it, David was good at it. And he had it all. When the Cancer was discovered. It was a shock. David? He never did anything that would harm his body or give him Cancer. How could this happen? To him? If you read David's first blog you can feel and hear his frustration on why him?
In that first week we prayed with the Elders of our church. David prayed in front of everyone, Lord, I know I will be in heaven with you, but I am not ready yet. I need more time with my kids. Of course this brought tears to all. It was then that I knew in my heart that David would be OK and in heaven and I was the one with the unwavering faith. Miraculously, God provided. He gave us two years of trips and memories. Not only more memories, but besides a scan, David showed no change in quality of life. Many will look at this and acknowledge that God heard that prayer, loud and clear.

John 9: 1-7 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

From that day on. David's life changed. He grew in his faith, he grew in his relationship with God. His faith did not waiver. You would ask him if he was scared, his response until the day he passed no. He always said Heaven will be beautiful and that he will never stop watching over the kids. He was a leader in his faith. When asked how people can pray for him, he would always respond, don't pray for me. Pray for your families.I remember our Pastor walking out of David's room a few days before David passed and saying, I hope when I pass, I am half the man he is. WHAT? Never in my mind did I imagine a Pastor to say this about David.
It has been in these last two months, that I have grown more then I ever have in my relationship with Christ. I have started meditation and have a yearning for feeling and knowing. I journal and anticipate so much on what the next day brings. I have started wonderful friendships with a native American,  and a Hindu. Did you know we have the same God? Did you know they also believe in Christ and the spirit? I didn't. In our conversations we have talked about the mysteries of God, the beauty of the creation all around us. About eternal life. We have developed a great respect for each other. We reference scripture. We talk about the gift of life, the reward of heaven. We talk about the ways God still shows David is watching over the kids and I. We have deep conversations on what it is to live your God given purpose and feel the presence of God. All of this has helped the grieving process and the joy in Christ I find despite my circumstances.

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

So, as I sit here.  And recall the question I was asked about David, 10 years ago. I wish I could replay it back and answer this time. I don't know? But, what I do know is God loves him and he loves God. And I do too. And in God's eyes that is what matters.

Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions
But instead...........

Galations 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

It was through our circumstances, David and I both realized what knowing God really does mean.
I encourage us all, as we go through this holiday season, to simply love. God does not need you to speak truth on your opinions. He may use you. But, he does not need you. So, when it comes to loving or speaking your faith or religion of truth, I believe the most effective and Godly way would be to start with loving first.

The kids and I have been overwhelmed with thankfulness for your love for us. Everyday there is a new item being delivered from people we know and don't know. Our tree has become a daddy tree:) You all have sent amazing ornaments made with pictures of our family.  It has also become an angel tree with the angel ornaments from those in the Waco community. But, most importantly it has become one that shows love from all of you. Thank you. It has brought us joy this season.  It has also given us the courage to spread joy to others in small ways. 

Tonight I go to sleep with the sweet ornament that came at the perfect timing.........

I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes and all of your cares
I'll even remind you to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you, You still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment, to stay in his grace
I came here before you to help set your place

You don't  have to be perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip, if you continue the climb

To my family and friends,
Please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you, In a new special way

I love you all dearly,
Now don't shed a tear
cause I'm spending my Christmas with Jesus this year.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Child Like Faith - a real true blessing

1. made holy; consecrated.
2. endowed with divine favor and protection
3. bringing pleasure or relief as a welcome contrast to what one has previously experienced
4. those who live with God in heaven

1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.
2. Expressive of gratitude: a thankful smile

Four weeks after David's passing. There has been no time to breath, with birthdays, anniversaries, thanksgiving and now Christmas just around the corner. I mean seriously? I could have handled a holiday like St. Patty's day? But, these are the real deal holidays. Holidays, when I, like so many others, sit there and count my blessings. For the past 33 years, my blessings? My family, my children, good health, my marriage, our home, the abundance of what we have. We were blessed? But, was I? 
If I was, the past 33 years. If I was blessed with all the things I mentioned above, then that means that this Thanksgiving, this holiday. I am not. I am not blessed because, my husband is gone. No, we are not divorced. No, he did not leave us. No, he is not on vacation. He is somewhere that is untouchable. He was not healthy before he left. By, our version of blessed. Our facebook version of blessed. My version of blessed a few years ago. You are blessed with good health? But, David was sick? He was dying? Was he not blessed? 
Absolutely not........he was the closest thing to God............which makes him the most blessed.

Thank goodness for A God that unveils himself on  the darkest of days. That shows me, he is not a God that gives house, health, family to bless. He is not a God that takes away, so that we may say, this God did not bless me. No. He constantly blesses us with his love. When we feel him, we are blessed. We have a choice to feel him and to be blessed. If it is in the things we rejoice, or the things we suffer. It is experiencing him that makes us blessed. How can we know true joy if we don't experience sadness. How can we experience the good of people, if we don't experience the bad? How can we experience good health, if we don't experience sickness. The beauty of being choose. Not God, you choose. You choose if you want to receive the blessing of his love in your happiness or your suffering. This season....This Holiday.....among the night tears of loss...... I wake up.....I feel.....I choose....And learn what really matters.........Life is a gift.......we have a God given purpose......and can say, I truly feel blessed. 

As many know, when asked about my ten year anniversary, my response... I survived. When asked about my thanksgiving holiday.....I survived. I miss David every minute. But, I am finding joy in each day and living. I am blessed more this thanksgiving then I ever have been, I have an appreciation for life that I never had before. I treasure it as a gift and a purpose. This Thanksgiving, I was thankful to be with David's family. I am thankful as this weekend opened communication on their importance in Audrey and Parker's life. That one day soon, Audrey and Parker will want to know more about their daddy. David's family can share this. That when Parker looks at his Uncle, he see's someone that looks a lot like his daddy. I am blessed with in laws because through them God has shown me, they grieve with me, they mourn with me and they find joy and the permission of it with me. Through the suffering and brokeness of death, God has shown me, the strength he has given me through them. That I am still their daughter in law, and death will not sepreate that. 

I will admit, I woke up Thanksgiving heart ready. But, as I looked at Facebook, my heart sunk. Beautiful family postings.... blessed for good health..... and I thought, this was me....this was us. But, then came the heart of a 3 year old to teach me the true meaning.  We sat around the thanksgiving table saying what we were thankful for. Twelve of us saying, Family, health, job, friends......and then came Parker's turn. He said, I am thankful for my daddy. Yes, thankful for a daddy that is not here. A daddy that was not healthy. But, Parker, unlike so many of us is probably the closet to the spirit then any of us. And their is no doubt in my mind, that although he endures the daily sadness and loss of his daddy, he feels his daddy. And he feels Christ. And for that Parker is blessed and thankful. His daddy. Something he can't see, or touch. But, he knows he will one day.The faith of a child. 

Matthew 18:3
And said, " Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 

David is blessed in heaven and the last four weeks we have been blessed, and say that and believe that:) with his constant presence. Because we know that is only from God. Many who follow us on facebook, know that I hesitated to put up Christmas decorations. Baby steps:)  Instead, I started a new tradition of taking Audrey and Parker to go pick out little tree's for their room and a handful of ornaments. As always, was amazed with Audrey's choices of cross, angel, green for daddy and the word peace.

As we drove out each morning after our decorations, I noticed a little leaf staying on a tree in our backyard. It stayed there for both cold fronts that blew in below freezing temperatures and high winds. One single leaf. Shaped like a heart. Every day, a constant reminder from a conversation I had with David before he passed, that he will always be watching over us.

Coming back from Thanksgiving, Audrey acknowledged Christmas was right around the corner. We all know, it is literally right around the corner. I reminded her of their already decorated Christmas trees in their rooms. She insisted we pull down our big family tree and do the outside lights. At first I told her, it was just too hard for mommy to do on her own this year. It was then I realized, how my kids are still processing. LIke it was no big deal, she asked me to call daddy in heaven because they have to have cell phones. Everybody does, right? After a heart felt conversation, I couldn't say no to the tree. I had to suck it up. And David, would tell me to also:) So, with some help from neighbors we got our tree up and decorated the whole outside with lights. Already looking like a beautiful Christmas. The best part of doing this, it was a high of 80 degrees. The next morning, I pulled out, all happy to start the day and of my accomplishments and I noticed........the leaf was gone. It wasn't a windy day, it was calm. It was beautiful. The leaf never blew in the windiest of days, but there in the prettiest and calmest of days, it was gone. And for once, felt David saying, You Got this. 

The day went on as one of joy, as I kept telling myself, you got this. But as night came, it felt lonely. My mind ran as the leaf was gone, symbolized David being gone. I cried to God for the strength for the next day. For just one more sign...just one more. I mean come on.........just one more. Again, this is when someone looking in probably says, COME ONE, haven't you had enough.  But, I am human:)  Today, I kept myself busy. My best therapy:) Planting pots, finished the last of the lights, enjoyed the 80 degree weather and an unexpected guest showed up. She introduced herself, Leslie. She said she has been following the blog and wanted to take a few minutes to talk to me. She said she bought me a gift weeks ago. That she didn't know when the right time would be to bring it. She talked to her husband about it. He said, just go over, it will be fine. She prayed about it. And like so many of us, she said give me a sign when the right time to take this over would be. As she sat on my porch, she showed me a box that arrived, weeks after this prayer. It was from Amazon. It held Christmas gifts for the holiday season. The return address.......David Hurst. Of the Millions of people that Amazon ships to and from, her return address was David Hurst. She needed no more and came over to deliver the gift. Little did she know, today was my first day to experience the no leaf, the you Got this, the first day after crying out to God...... please one more........... And there in my hands she handed my the UPS box for me to have and her gift, a sweet pillow that read...Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain. 

Taking Steps By Faith,

Dana Hurst