Thursday, August 30, 2012

God's Love During The Hard Times

Donna Mae Shick
May 10, 1937 - August 10, 2012

As a little girl if you asked me where was my favorite place to visit, my top choices would be Aunt Donna's house!  Aunt Donna had an amazing two story home that was built by my Uncle George and cousin Scott.  My favorite was the downstairs, its an open floor plan has an additional kitchen and my favorite was a sunken living room.  I played house in there and loved exploring.  There were always treasures to be found.  The house sits on a hill which leads to a beautiful lake where I swam for hours and hours.  Where I spent hours tipping the canoe (yeah, could not keep it upright) and where I enjoyed being a little girl.  Aunt Donna loved what I loved; shopping, animals, family, laughter, life.  I love taking my boys back there to swim and build their own memories as well.  I love talking to her on the phone, she always had a way of making me laugh.  She loved getting letters in the mail and I loved getting them in return.  

When the news came of her death I was overwhelmed with grief.  Suffering a sudden loss fills you with the regret of I wish...I wish I would have called last week, I wish I would have mailed this card, I wish I would have had one more chance to say "I love you".  I was unprepared for the grief that flooded my soul.  Thanks to my precious family who rallied around I was able to go to the memorial service with my Mom (her sister), brother and youngest son.  
Welcome Home
 Walking into a home of a loved one who was there one moment and gone the next was again overwhelming.  Walking up to the door and seeing the welcome mat made my heart sink.  In the past that mat was always a welcome sight but this day it was a reminder of just how sweet Heaven is going to be.
Take off your shoes Rachel!
When I walked into the house the first thing I saw were her shoes by the front door.  Among the tears I had to have a good laugh because they were a reminder to me "Rachel, take off your shoes" which she always reminded me to do when I came into the house.  As I walked through the house I was reminded time and time again how she was simply living life and then was called home.  Her jewelry on the bathroom sink from her shower, a half emptied glass of water next to her medication, a bottle of hair spray on the counter, her Bible on the end table, magazines she enjoyed.  It was difficult to be in the house and not have her give me a big hug and although I knew she was gone I expected her to bust out in laughter making everyone in the room smile.  The quietness was hard.  

When I went to bed that night I could hear her laughing and saying funny things that always made me smile.  When I was in the bed I was thinking of all her favorite things, and in my mind I was planning on going to the store to make her a goodie basket to leave as a surprise when we left.  As I was dreaming I then had to come back to reality and realize there was no need to leave the basket, as we were there to say goodbye.  I felt a pain like I have never felt and as I lay in the room where I slept many times I began to cry and beg God for His comfort during this time. I asked Him to please show me that Aunt Donna was there with us and most of all I begged God to show me His love.  Little did I know just how much love he had in store for me....
Her love for antique cars and a favorite color
The next day Colleen (my cousin) and I went to take a table to the church for the flowers.  When we pulled up to the church I met a dear sweet lady named Martha who said "Oh, Rachel, I feel I already know you, your Aunt Donna loved you so much."  When we went to the car to get the table my cousin froze as she watched an antique car drive by at a very slow speed.  As her eyes welled up with tears she said; "Mom loved antique cars and that is her favorite color!"  Knowing my prayer the night before I felt a special hug and knew she was there with us, giving us her love as we carried her favorite table into the church.  
Her Love Sign Is A Dime

That afternoon my heart was filled with compassion for my brothers and sisters who could not join me.  I was texting them through out the day and I had them heavy on my heart, I knew they wanted to be there too.  As I was cleaning out a dresser in the guest room my heart was heavy for my sister who sacrificed so I could be there and yet I knew she longed to be there as well.  As I was cleaning out the drawer I found photos of my boys, cards and countless treasures she kept.  When I reached the bottom of the dresser there was yet another sign of God's love.  My sisters love sign is a dime and there in the bottom of the dresser drawer was a single dime.  God knew my heart was heavy for her and he left me that treasure so I could tell her; "God loves you too Sissy and you were a special part of Aunt Donna's heart as well."    
His Love Sign Is A Blue Bird
Later that night I was packing up some dishes she left for me and my youngest son was walking through the house.  I could see he was struggling and I asked; "You okay, Buddy?"  His eyes filled with tears and he started to cry.  He said "Mom, I just want to have her here one more time to see me swim.  I did not get to see her much but my heart hurts."  We both cried and I told him "Why don't you look around to see if you can find a small trinket to take with you as a reminder of her love?"  Aunt Donna loved elephants so he found a little elephant but it was just not the right thing.  We finished packing and when I walked back in the house I said; "Oh, Caleb, come look!!"  There sitting on the entrance table was his love sign from God, a small little blue bird.  He hugged me and I said "Caleb, God loves you so much.  Aunt Donna had no idea when she put this little bird here you would one day need it."  His heart was filled with joy and again I felt the mighty hand of God, pick me up and say "Rachel, I love you too."  

Black Squirrels Can Also Be a Love Sign

The cell service was not great at Aunt Donna's so I would go sit in the car where I could make a call every now and then and text.  I called my sister and as we were talking a little back squirrel kept running around the van.  I was laughing because it was just going nuts running around the van.  I told my sister about how funny it was acting.  My sister said; "What color is he?"  I said; "Strange enough black, I've never seen a black on before!"  She laughed and said; "Did you know Aunt Donna's love sign was a black squirrel!"  Oh, my heart jumped for joy over another treasure from Christ.  No one knew my prayer but God did and in His gracious way gave me joy unspeakable and full of Glory. 

Mom, God Loves You Too!
During the memorial service I was able to speak of the hugs I had been receiving from Christ over the past few days and how during the darkest of times Christ can fill your heart with such comfort and joy if you just ask him.  I pointed out how over the past few days God answered a prayer in a magnificent way and although my heart was filled with grief over the loss of Aunt Donna, Christ came, picked me up and carried me through.  After the service our youngest son was blessed by the stories of God's grace.  He felt bad that even though I saw many blessings I did not see one red bird (my love sign).  As we were traveling home we stopped at a gas station and he and his Uncle went "shopping".  He came out with a little bag and a HUGE smile.  As he got in the car he dropped his bag and when he opened it up his treasure was broken.  Tears began to puddle in his little eyes and I knew whatever it was in that little bag was an important treasure.  His Uncle jumped out of the van and said; "Lets go fix this problem!"  They went into the store and both came out with big smiles once again.  As we got ready to leave Caleb said "Mom, wait a minute!"  He handed me a little white shopping bag, crumbled up with little boy hands and said; "Mom, I wanted you to know that God loves you too!"  Yes, I had to fight back the tears as I saw what was inside.  A little red bird snow globe.  Oh, I'm telling you, if you don't have a love sign you're missing out on a true treasure trove of blessings.  God wants to share his love with you and what better way then a personal sign between you and Him.
Aunt Donna, you will be missed
As I came home and was reflecting on all the memories of Aunt Donna and how Christ was so present during out trip, I remembered I had snapped a photo of the beautiful flowers my cousin so carefully picked out.  When I posted the photo here I again began to cry as I notice the cross in the background.  I did not notice it when I took the photo and I'm not sure where the light is coming from (I'm sure a window) but as I saw its illumination it was just another reminder to me of Christ love.  I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to go to the funeral and find comfort through Christ.  Yes, it was terribly hard to say goodbye, but Gods grace is sufficient for me.  

Romans 8:38
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love.