Oh, my dear friends ~
I have some ABSOLUTLEY WONDERFUL news! Practice has asked to become Perfect . . . and I have answered with a resounding “YES!!!!!!”
Yes, friends, Practice and I are engaged! We will be married the end of this summer in a very small and intimate ceremony that will celebrate the glory of ALL that God has restored to us and our children.
This past Friday evening Jim and I had the evening to have a date (with six children, two careers, two houses, etc . . . finding alone time can be a job in itself.) Anyhow, it was a warm, lovely evening and we had planned to go to his favorite haunt for pizza, then head back to his house on the farm to sit on the front porch and watch the sunset. He was running a little late after work and by the time we could leave to get pizza the sun was already beginning to set.
Jim owns some property that has a lake on it that they call ‘the pit.’ I had not been out to the pit yet, so we decided to head up to the pit to watch the sunset and then head to get pizza from there. We had such a wonderful time walking around the banks of the water, just walking, talking, holding hands and enjoying quiet time together. It was absolutely beautiful! So quiet! When you have always lived in a city – the quiet of the country is pretty amazing! The sounds of nature are incredible and I absolutely love it out there. Anyhow, it was out there, in that beautiful setting, that Jim got down on one knee and asked if I will be his wife.
It will be an honor! I am so in awe of God for His sustaining power in each of our lives . . . we have both emerged from such deep, deep pain. I am so in awe of God for His promises that are so true . . . as Romans 8:28 promises us that, “all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” My friends – that is what Jim and I represent in each others’ lives . . . that is what our marriage and new family represent to these six babies who have walked through pain that no adult should have to walk through. I pray, THAT is what our marriage will represent to anyone watching from near or far . . . that God IS good and His promises ARE true and He truly DOES redeem our suffering!
I have had an idea that this was coming . . . and about a week ago I penned the following blog . . . but felt that it gave too much away, and therefore I waited to post it until I could officially announce our engagement. But I would like you to see the emotion of all that we are walking through . . . there is SO much good! SO much! But the pain of losing Chad will never, ever go away . . . and so . . . I give to you the mixed emotion of widowhood, remarriage, and starting over ~
The past few days I have been in a funk. Just a plain ol’ good ol’ FUNK! It bothers me when I am like this – as I am generally a very upbeat person. So, when the funk comes I tend to begin to analyze . . . ask questions and try to figure out the ‘why’ of the funk. A year ago there was no question . . . it was an unending, penetrating, inescapable ‘funk.’ Well . . . a never ending weeping is more like it. But now, these days, the smile has returned to my heart and to our life . . . and while there are still days and moments that I weep for my beloved Chad . . . those moments do not define my days . .. our days . . as they did one year ago.
So, it has really caused me to take notice and ask “why?” Why this funk. I have finally figured it out. I share this with you so that you can follow the continuation of this journey. I pray that none of you will ever have to endure the horrible grief, shock, and pain that we have. But, unfortunately, the reality is that some of you will. I pray that my journey will encourage you. And so, I share with you my heart.
The smile HAS returned deep within my heart. And while so much of it is nothing short of the glory and faithfulness of God . . . this smile has a name. Many of you know that the name on this smile is Practice. If, at this point, you are confused . . . then please read back to my Valentine’s Day blog and it will fill you in. Anyhow, Practice has put a smile deep in the parts of my heart that I thought might always remain dark and painful. And, while loving Practice takes NOTHING away from loving Chad, it most certainly has taken the sting out of a life of lost love.
As Practice and I journey further into a life together . .. and as discussions of a life together begin to turn to reality. . . reality itself begins to set in. You see . . . I truly long for nothing more right now than a life with this wonderful man that God has brought into my life. The reality is that if Practice and I had TRIED to make this happen . . . if we had gone looking for one another . . . we never would have found each other. Our relationship IS a picture of the grace and mercy and glory of God our Father.
But there is another reality in all of this . . . as we discuss what a life together may look like . . . a sweet, new beginning will mean a certain ending. It is the door closing on my life with Chad. Not of our love, or our memories of one of the most incredible men to ever live, or of one of the greatest gifts God ever gave me . . . no, it does not mean an ending to those. But, it does mean an ending to our life together.
It means selling my house – the house that I will never forget finding . . . it wasn’t even for sale. One thing led to another and we signed the papers to sell our first home (the one we had all three of our babies at) at seven O’clock on a Thursday evening, got a babysitter and at nine O’clock that evening Chad leaned against a ladder in the basement of this house and began to weep. He pulled me in to his arms and said, “THIS is our ‘forever home.’ “ Huh. . . our ‘forever home.’
It means leaving the canopy of this dear, dear city that embraced us and loved us and poured out love to us in such tangible and meaningful ways after Chad died. In a way, I look forward to the anonymity of a new town . . . and I will CERTAINLY be in Midland often . . . but the memories here are sweet and many. It will, to be honest, be nice to jog down a road that doesn’t have a memory of running there with Chad – those memories are just too painful. There is a relief in starting over . . . getting out from under being “Chad’s widow.” It is such an honor to have been his wife and to be his widow . . . but in time, it also becomes a label that we cannot escape. I hope and pray you can understand that and not judge me for my truthfulness to you.
You see, the reality of our lives is that we have HAD to create a new life. We have had NO choice. Our choice would have been for none of this to ever happen . . . but it did.
I have LONG believed that God redeems our suffering. The Word of God PROMISES that He will take the bad that happens in our lives and make good out of it. That is the love of God at work in our lives! That is God’s goodness to us.
Now, enter . . . Practice. My suffering redeemed. His suffering redeemed. That is what we are to one another. Never could I have imagined that God would restore to me . . . love. Deep love! Perhaps a deeper love than I have ever, ever experienced . . . why? Because I know what it is to lose that love and I plan to savor and capture EVERY moment of it! I have told Practice that I WILL memorize every contour of his body . . . and I will . . . because I know what it is to bury that body with whom you are one and to have to walk away and NEVER, EVER see or touch or feel again. And so, I WILL memorize every contour of his body. I will cherish every moment I have with him. I will know who it is to be ‘Sarah,’ and will be ‘Sarah’ very well. For, I have learned who I am as ‘me’ and how to be independent and how to take care of myself. But, I will be so happy to be cared for again, and cherished again, and I will be so happy to settle in to being half of one. I will be so humbled to be a wife again. And so, I do believe that I will love more deeply than ever before . . . because I know the sting of losing the very love of my life. I WILL cherish every moment I have to be Mrs. Practice! I will praise God for His restoration and I will be faithful with the calling of ‘wife.’
The Chris Tomlin/Louie Giglio song Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone), has a verse I just love! I used to sit at the grave and weep as I rewound the song to play this verse over and over and over . . . it says:
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
I would listen to that over and over and over and beg God to please let that be true in my life – as I sat there staring at my husband’s grave. The song goes on to say:
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace
Unending love . . . that is what Chad and I had. Our love will NEVER end . . . and in many ways, it will shine brightly through Practice and I because I am who I am because of Chad and the love that we shared. But, while our love will never end . . . this chapter of our life WILL. And, as one chapter ends and a new one begins, there may be days of ‘funk.’ Days where the excitement and joy of ALL of the good that God has brought to my life right now is dimmed a bit by the fact that a very sweet and beautiful and wonderful and blessed chapter of my life is ending. I guess, my friends, this is what they call the circle of life.