LA Trip–Week One

Several people have asked how our trip is going so here’s an update…  It has been a week since our plane landed in LA and it seems like just yesterday! We’ve been able to see many friends and family that we hadn’t seen for months and some we hadn’t seen even for years.  Noah got to attend VBS part of the week at Grace Community Church while I prepared for the memorial and burial. The cemetery was going to charge me $300 for them to obtain a burial permit; I drove to downtown LA myself and paid only $12!

The memorial service went well.  It was a beautiful and God-honoring tribute to Josh! Many of his poems were displayed, recited, and played.  Loved ones read aloud poems dedicated to Josh and the family.  Josh’s best friend & brother-in-law recognized his service in the ministry and presented the Christian flag to us.  Josh’s nephew and niece sang and played the last song they had played for him.  The church was packed! There were 300 plus people in ascendance.  Seven families came out from Arizona, another family from Colorado, a friend from Utah and one of Josh’s friends from his youth band came all the way from Florida! People were there that would otherwise never step foot in a Christian church.  The gospel was presented to everyone to God’s glory and following Josh’s example.  Thank you to Church of the Canyons for the amazing team of friends that put together a wonderful service!

Tomorrow morning at 10AM we honor Josh by burring his ashes at Eternal Valley Memorial Park.  Thank you to Dad and Don Seibert who helped pay part of the costs. Thank you to everyone who has donated to our family fund! God has provided above what we had anticipated! Praise God who provides! We are planning to move back to LA area in the near future. There is an army of support both from family and the church here!  I think God’s direction has been made pretty clear.  Please pray for the transition and wisdom as far as timing.  The boys’ are always heavy on my heart.  Your continued prayers for them are much appreciated too!

Anticipation

These past days have been so busy that I’ve scarcely had time to gather my thoughts down and blog.  There is constantly a “to do” list that doesn’t seem to ever get fully completed.  Yet, the most important thing is that ‘God’s will be done, as it is in heaven’.  Yesterday morning as I started to tackle my list and organized some of Josh’s stuff, I just ended up laying on the floor in tears.  I think it was in his plan–for me to spend some time mourning and crying out to him.  Thankfully I did finish homeschooling for the year and got all Noah’s grading done!! On top of that, Noah did great–he got straight A’s and scored well on his Stanford test. It amazes me because these past couples of months I’ve really hardly been able to teach Noah.  The only reason he was able to finish strong was because of a good degree of his own self-discipline and Katelynn teaching! She was such a wonderful blessing and would faithfull to help Noah with schoolwork–even Math! Thank you God for Katelynn!

I also thank God that I’ve been surrounded with loving church family and friends—whether in person, in cyberspace, or over the phone.  Thank you to those who have taken us out or delivered a meal!  Thank you all for your love, prayers and support!

One of the things I miss the most is having Josh here to talk to every day. We would share almost everything with each other.  Now, that he’s gone there’s a void in my heart.  It’s like being sick and on an empty stomach…I’m left feeling weak and empty.  At times like this, the Lord calls and equips us to come to him all the more in order to have Him fill our cup and even overflow to others around us.

However, it’s so easy at times like this to almost have a cloud come over us where all we can see is what’s directly in front of us—it may tempt us to despair and be self-focused.  I was graciously reminded by a friend that the trials we face are not about us! It just really hit me… all of this is about God and His purposes.  It’s hard when trials knock on our door to understand God’s ways and accept them as gifts to grow and stretch us. Yet, Scripture tells us to count them all joy.  His ways are not our own. We are not our own; we were bought with a price–the blood of Jesus.  I’ve resigned myself to trusting Him and resting in the not knowing.  In our weakness, he is shown strong.  Even though we may not know exactly what God is going to accomplish thru our trials, we can run to the arms of my Father who does know.  Plus, he loves us as his children with a ferocious love that did not let the cross stop him from perusing an intimate relationship with us forever.  He loves us with such a deep love that it’s truly incomprehensible.  It’s a love that is not based on anything we have to offer; a love that doesn’t even make much sense, as angles can’t even fathom it. It’s a love that is purely a part of who God is in his essence and being.  Even in our frailty and sinfulness, we can’t lose God’s love.  We may forfeit the blessing of being used by Him, but we will never lose His love nor be outside of His grasp.

The days pass quickly, yet the nights can go so slow as I may lay awake sometimes for hours trying to sleep. There are times, just as I’m about to fall asleep, I hear loud noises coming from the kitchen or unknown part of the house.  We are renting an old house in the country and we have some furry little mice and rat friends that make a racket at night.   Josh used to hunt them down with his pellet gun. It can be frightening to be a woman alone at night.  I’ve noticed that my hard days usually translate into difficult nights and I wonder how much of my anxiety is related to grief.  I read quote by C.S. Lewis that says, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”   So with God’s help,  I’ll continue to strive to overcome my fear.  The truth is God is my protector and sends his angels to watch over us at night!! As a grace to us, we also have neighbors and friends close by ready to come help at any time, and that there’s security that patrols this area every night.

The kids have their ups and downs too.  The other day as we were driving in the car and listening to Chris Tomlin’s new song  called “Home” on the local Christian radio station, the following words echoed through our ears and penetrated our hearts:

“Every tear will be wiped away
Every sorrow and sin erased
We’ll dance on seas of amazing grace
In Heaven
In Heaven

I’m goin’ home
Where the streets are golden
Every chain is broken
Oh I wanna go
Oh I wanna go
Home
Where every fear is gone
I’m in your open arms
Where I belong
Home”

As these words rang in our ears, Nathan exclaimed, “That’s where Daddy is!”

Praise God Nathan is excited about knowing Daddy is in heaven! Yet, last night he woke up at midnight crying out for Daddy.  It saddens me to not be able to do anything other than comfort him and hold him.  Even though Nathan understands Daddy is in heaven he is grieving in his toddler way.  Noah is also grieving in his own “big boy” way too. I’m thankful for moments where he opens up to me and we’ve mourned together.  I realize how much the kids need me there.

God has been leading me as far as where to go from here.  Although, I don’t know much of the details yet; some things have been made clear.  First, that Lord wants me to stay home with the boys (1Tim5).  Secondly, my desire to return to LA to be close to family, friends/mentors and a strong church.

We anticipate a good turn out for Josh’s memorial service June 24th. The service will be held at 10AM at Church of the Canyons. The address is 28050 Sand Canyon Rd. Canyon Country, CA 91387.

Prayer Requests;

(1) For our little family to grieve in healthy ways, be protected from all kinds of harm, and sleep well at night.

(2) For Josh’s memorial service June 24th to point other’s to Christ.

(3)  For provision for our family to relocate to LA (preferably, before fall/winter!).  We are looking for an affordable 2 bedroom apartment or guest home.

(4) For our Merlin Church family to be blessed with a new pastor and shepherd that will lead where Josh left off.

 

 

Coffee Break

 

 

Today I got to take a little bit of a coffee break (or tea since I’m not a coffee drinker) by myself thanks to our friend Catherine who graciously watched the boys for me for six hours! Thanks, Catherine & Martin! Most of that time I spent getting stuff ready for an annual garage sale at our church and making important phone calls.  However, I also got to spend some time getting encouragement from another widow who loves the Lord plus I got to take some time alone to get some tea and write a little bit.  For me writing is therapeutic and a way to journal this journey and hopefully even in some way encourage others.  It’s comforting to know that people love us to follow the blog and continue to pray for our family’s specific needs.

Memorial day was much fun! A sweet homeschool family invited us to the river to watch the boat races.  Noah picked up his favorite racer number 200 and was stoked when he won! The kids had a blast playing in the river with the other kids.  Thanks for inviting us, Christi! After the long weekend, Noah got back to work to finish school for the year.  I am behind on grading so that will be my next BIG project! This child has six subjects and everything gets graded and sent to BJU Academy of Home Education where they mail us back an official report card. It’s serious stuff.

The last few days I’ve been busy organizing our stuff and trying to get rid of as many things we don’t need as possible.  I’ve also been going through Josh’s stuff, which has been a blessing in disguise.  I’ve got a couple sort of visual memoir projects.  We’ve got a cute old cabinet where I placed personal trinket items that belonged to him like a pocket watch with his name engraved on it.  Another project entails a scrapbook and a Shutterfly photo collection of his fishing adventures. Thanks for the gift card Roxanna! Also, I found several Western Horseman calendars with Josh’s poems that I plan to frame. Noah is the same size as Josh so we were able to recycle most of Josh’s clothes and shoes which is great! A sweet saint from the church is making comfort blankets out of Josh’s flannels, which is so special.  Some days have been harder than others. Thursday was four weeks since the Lord took Josh home and that day cried and struggled with memories of him at the hospital. Tomorrow will be one month since the day of his death. Last night Nathan woke up missing Daddy and wanting PB&J so we looked at his pictures while he ate his PB&J.  We think often of how much fun a josh is having in heaven and talk about it. I hope the boys grow up with a high view of God and heaven as a result of all of this

Merlin Church has been so supportive of our little family. We see God’s loving hand in bringing us out here to such a loving family, and his provisions in how the church is taking care of us physical as well. They had invested in a retirement plan for the pastors here and to our surprise, this company is helping, even after only a short time.  The Lord has been very kind to us! Thank you Merlin Church! Also, a big thank you to all who have donated!  I wish I could write every one of you and personally to thank you! One day… I keep very busy during the day–or should I say the boys keep me pretty busy! Josh would always say we need to give the kids something to do so they don’t give us something to do. lol.  Noah mowed the lawn and is now the official gardener making some allowance money.  He is excited about that! I’m thankful Josh taught him that job!

Nights are more challenging as it gets lonely and temps me toward anxiety; however, I’ve been reading Psalms and spending time with my husband–Jesus and that has helped! I enjoy reading too.  I have a handful of really good books I’m currently being blessed by reading!

Some highlights from my readings:

“For who is like God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?–the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” Psalms 18:31-33

“It often happens that those whose loss is greatest receive the greatest share of grace, mercy, and peace. This does not mean that they never cry, of course. But they do not collapse. Those who only watch and pray and try to put themselves in the place of the bereaved find it almost unendurable. Sometimes they weep uncontrollably, for their imaginations never include the grace.” Elisabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness

“No one else will grieve exactly like you. Just because someone else feels a certain way at a given point doesn’t mean that you should. You’re a different person grieving a different loss. Even others grieving the same loved one as you in all likelihood will grieve differently.  You are you, your loss is different from anyone else’s loss, and you will grieve the way you need to grieve.” Kenneth C. Haugk, A Time to Grieve

“Rely on the One who will not fail you in any way or at any time. Rely on Him, Christ-follower. He will respond in grace and love toward you, and in His arms is comfort beyond compare.” Adam Holland, Anchored in the Storm

“Give thanks for every sunrise, For one will be your last.

Opportunities you have today, Tomorrow will be past.

Time doesn’t wait for anyone, As hours tick away.

Choose wisely how you spend your time,The things you do and say.

Live every day without regret, For something said or done.

Remember to count your blessings, Each day at setting sun.

Be patient and show kindess, To those you meet each day.

You may entertain an angel, Somewhere along the way.

Make every day count for something–Don’t waste a single one.

If you should die tomorrow, What will you leave undone?” Clay Harrison, “Make Every Day Count”

Our major prayer needs are the following:

1.) For the boys–pray for them to receive the gift of faith or grow in faith; and for them to be so convinced of God’ s love for them.  Also, for godly and encouraging friendships.

2.) For continued financial provisions–for God to make his will clear as to our future.

3.) For our family– to get into a good routine and learn to function in our new normal without Josh in a way that would make the best use of our time and honor God!

4.) For Merlin Church– and thier search for a new pastor–for a strong man of God to shepherd the flock Josh loved much and left behind.