Sunday, March 16, 2007I woke up this morning with a different name, a different kind of contentment and a joy beyond measure. God’s promises became reality.
I thought back on my wedding day with a giddy blissfulness. Looking around the beautifully adorned room at our family and friends, I felt my life blessed. These were the folks who had meant the most to Kent and I throughout our life, and especially these past 2-3 years. They came from all over the United States and many from our hometowns. Though I wish I could take this moment and equally thank everyone individually for how much they have meant to us, I would run out of blog space and would continuously write for days.
Love is truly one of the most coveted of all emotions. We are social beings; passionate about seeking and discovering love in our lives. I was fortunate to be blessed with one amazing love, as was Kent. Though we were open to the possibilities, neither of us expected to find that type of complete companionship again. God had a different story in mind for us.
As I looked into Kent’s eyes on Saturday, I had such inner peace. I had confidence in our love and in our future as man and wife. Am I under the illusion that life from here will be “perfect”? Of course not, but I know that he is the one I want to go through life’s struggles with. I want his hand in mine as we maneuver the rest of our lives together.
Perhaps as widows we have a different outlook on life. We understand the temporal, as well as retain hope for the eternal. We recognize that life is short, but that it will be sweeter with each other than without. Through our individual grief we each have developed a deeper and abiding love. It is this steadfast love we long to share with each other. It seems like quite a price to pay, but I am grateful that God has reached down given “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3) and that we were each open to accepting the gift.
We bring different life experience and individuality to our relationship; seasoned with time. These life experiences have crafted us into the people we are now, yet it is because them that we are able to offer each other such unshakable love (Jer. 31:3).
All in all, it was a day of new beginnings—of counting our blessings and holding dear to our hearts those we love and treasure. I love the fact that by attending our wedding, our friends and family vowed to support our new life together. That means more than anything….yes, JOY does come in the morning.
Today is Easter Sunday. For Christians, this is THE Celebration---the Christian Super Bowl (as borrowed from our youth pastor). Without Easter there is NO hope. Without resurrection there is no anticipation for tomorrow, let alone eternity. The significance of hope found in the fact that our Lord is no longer dead, is worth more than five minutes on an Easter Sunday isn't it? It should not only be a portion of the message – it is paramount to the entire message for us today.
Christ IS risen and because of that fact, we are invited into a personal relationship with Him… Because He has risen, we anticipate eternal life… Because He has risen, we are victorious over life’s tragedies… Because He has risen, His glory is found in our trials… Because He has risen, we never face life alone… Because He has risen, we are granted peace…
Yes, the message of resurrection is what this world needs to hear, and is absolutely worth more than five minutes on Easter Sunday.
"I'm praying for you." I have said this or had it said to me a million times. Sometimes, it seems to have become trite. I wonder how many of us actually follow through and pray for the person we say those words to. The reason this struck me today is because this was in the closing of an email from a good friend. Normally, I would skim across the closing and move on to the next email, but because this email was from my friend J, I paused knowing full well that she meant what she wrote. See, I know she is a modern day "prayer warrior".
We don't hear that term used very often today. Perhaps it is because these saints of prayer are vanishing. I have been fortunate to have many "prayer warriors" in my life starting with my Great grandmother Stroman. When visiting her as a little girl, I remember peeking in her bedroom door. She would actually be on her knees beside her bed petitioning God out loud on our behalf. Some days she would call me in to join her. Of course my ADD would set in and within seconds and I would begin to "squirm", as she liked to call it. Finding it more than difficult to keep my eyes shut, I would eventually leave. These memories of my great-grandmother praying are a part of her legacy to me.
My grandmother Hancock was also vigilant in prayer and meditation. Her life was spent in ministry with my blind grandfather. She was a prime example of a life totally surrendered to her faith. Between the two of them, I know they logged hours upon hours in prayer for family, friends and the church.
Then there is my mother. Oh to have the discernment and grace that defines her life. Though I know it may be difficult to believe, I wasn't the easiest child to raise---I still am not. You could make an argument that this fact alone would bring her to her knees, but that isn't the case. No matter what trepidation life has brought my way, I KNOW that my mother has been praying for me—in that thought alone, lies great strength.
Mom doesn't take prayer for granted. She is a student of prayer. She extensively reads, writes and speaks about this topic. I am cognizant of the fact that my mother prays for me. She would never need to tell me because I know; yet she often verbalizes it to me anyway. She doesn't simply say, "I am praying for you." She says, "Marsha, I am praying that God….". Herein lies her resolve. She knows the secret. Praying specifically is as important as the act in itself.
We often disregard the power of prayer and the effects of meditation on our lives, yet I am positive that the prayer of Godly people in my life has been extraordinarily powerful and effective (James 5:16). Oh to be the kind of warrior of those faithful who have gone before me. I long to be worthy…
“I want to be them someday,” I expressed upon entering the locker room at the local YMCA. These older patrons are admirable. I am even jealous of them. I want to be as comfortable with my body as they obviously are.
They don’t have perfect bodies—far from it. They have lumps and bumps; gravity has certainly taken its toll, but they strut around the locker room as if they were Heidi Klum. I, in contrast, am in the corner of the locker room with the towel in my mouth covering my less than attractive body; the twenty pounds I have gained since my hysterectomy sits on my body like a ball and chain, while these women-totally naked- stop to chat. It is an enigma to me. How do you get to the point where you are comfortable with your body AS IT IS? I am not there yet.
I went to the cemetery today. It is the first time in a while. When I visit Don's grave I don't often talk to him outside of an initial greeting, but today I was compelled to do so for some reason. Snow was still on the ground and it was cold, but I felt warmth drawing me to his memorial. Approaching his stone, I spoke the familiar greeting, "Don, how are things at home?" I felt somewhat of a smile on my face as I thought of his heavenly home and the encompassing peace he must have.
I spent some time catching him up about the boys and how amazing they are doing—how I know he is proud of them beyond measure. I chatted about his mother and brothers and told him Chad was excited to visit them in Arizona.
I then began to discuss the "chapter two" I will begin to write in a few days. I expressed that I felt honored that God had chosen to bless me twice in my lifetime. I told him about Kent—how different this relationship is from the one we had, but how perfect he is for me at this stage in my life. I expressed my concern with instantly becoming a mother of six. I knew he would find that, in itself, humorous. There was no awkwardness in the discourse—like it was a natural flow of conversation. Through my tears of grief and joy, I assured him that he would always be the boy's father and the legacy that he has left them will sustain them for the rest of their lives. I promised to uphold his memory. I guaranteed him that Kent had no desire to be a replacement father, but felt honored to simply be a strong male influence in the boy's lives (I think Kent realizes he has a lot to live up to).
I am not sure anyone (except perhaps my widow friends and even they might think this a little weird) can understand how important this task was for me to complete today. I wasn't asking Don permission or needing any kind of assurance. I was simply building a bridge from my "chapter one" to my "chapter two". Not, in any terms, closing one to open the other, but fully recognizing and acknowledging the importance of both in my "life story".
About that time, a gentle breeze began to blow onto my face. The feeling gave me goose bumps. It's gentleness reminded me of that quality in Don. Was this Don's way of giving me his blessing? I stood, in silence, beside the grave for what seemed like hours, but in reality was mere minutes. As I turned to walk away, I experienced an immense calmness in my spirit--- the feeling that my "Chapter two" had been sanctioned. I left with immeasurable peace. The bridge was complete.
In two weeks I will become a stepmother. This realization just hit me today for some reason. Upon recognizing this fact, I immediately did what any other educated “soon-to-be” stepmother would do. I hit the Internet and Googled everything I could on the subject. I entered; “blended families”, “adult stepchildren”, “being a successful stepparent”, even “how to blend adult children”. If it could be researched, I read it. The conclusion of my investigation is that step parenting, although may have it’s own intricacies, is not all that different from parenting in general especially where adult children are concerned.
Though they are adults with lives of their own, I have grown to love Kent’s children.. They seem to have accepted me as I have them. I appreciate them as individuals and hopefully they have embraced me in the same way. One advantage to becoming a stepparent at this stage in life is that I get to be a part of the kid’s life as they embark on adulthood. Perhaps this is a good state of affairs
I wonder if they think about having a stepmother? I wonder if they have expectations or worries that I should be aware of? All of a sudden these questions seem to swirl around in my head.
I want Kent’s children to know that I love their father and by doing this I choose to love the ones he loves. I want them to know that I respect and honor the life they had before me and will always hold it in high regard. I pledge to learn more about each of them as unique individuals with exceptional promise. Most of all they need to know how determined I am to be the kind of stepmother they need.
I am not naive. I know that adult children like to make their own decisions, yet often their choices affect us sometimes in positive ways and at times in difficult terms. I know that any valuable relationship is worth the hard work it takes to grow. I know that there will be bumps in the road and times when the relationship will be strained, but I also am resolved to do what it takes to make the bumps less and the joys great. I look, with promise, to the opportunity to blend two families into one strong unit. I am gong from being a single mother of two to a married mother of six and grandmother of one-How blessed is that?