Friday, October 29, 2010

A little Autumn -

A little Autumn .... it hasn't been overly cold or wonderfully fall-ish here, but we are thankful for the little things. The little reminders that things change into beauty under God's loving hand. There is so much joy and yet so much pain and loss in Autumn for my family, and for dear friends .... having Thanksgiving coming without the promise of dear ones by our side, as they await in Heaven the wonderful spread of the Wedding Feast with the Lamb.

Yet we rejoice.

Because God will bring about all things in His time, and it will be so so beautiful!! Out of these present sufferings will come glory, and God will make beautiful what was our ashes!

I read this today in "The Loveliness of Christ" by Samuel Rutherford ... and loved it so.
"All the saints have their own measure of winter before their eternal summer. O! for the long day, and the high sun, and the fair garden, and the King's great city up above these visible heavens!"

How precious the promise of the covenant between God and His children!
How sweet the day when He returns to take us, or when He calls us Home! Until then .... how sweet the times when we see so clearly the beauty of His love in our lives through others and through His world .....

Our Chinese Tallow trees are deciduous, and so our whole driveway gets covered in fall leaves! It's so wonderful, because so many people in FL don't get to enjoy that. :)

This week, I baked pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread with a dear friend and I thought I'd share a few glimpses of our Autumn - making time. :)

The first pumpkin pie of the season! :) It was as good as it looks!

L. had these beautiful deep red carnations that had almost black in them, they were so dark, and in the light, they just looked like velvet ... they were amazing!!

In joys and in sorrows, our God is in control, and He never changes!
How beautiful to know we are forever His children and are redeemed wholly and fully!

Today I have banana bread just pulled from the oven, a clean kitchen, a car to wash in the nice day outside, and a barn dance tonight with dear friends!! :) Wherever ya'll are ....
Enjoy your AUTUMN!!!

With love and hugs,
~ Jean Marie ~

"If I come to heaven any way, howbeit like a tired traveller upon my Guide's shoulder, it is good enough for those who have no legs of their own for such a journey. I never thought there had been need of so much wrestling to win to the top of that steep mountain as now I find."
~ Samuel Rutherford ~

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So, so close -

About this time last year I was on a plane home from Boston, MA. I was sitting in the middle between a best friend of mine and my mom. Our short vacation to attend a wedding was over, and we were relaxing knowing that we were on our way home, and there was no more rushing to do. Just a few hours of peace and quiet together, and then we'd be home again.

We'd made the trip together, and spent three days together, but this was the first time on a plane we got to sit all three together, side by side. The plane lifted into the air, and as I had been doing the whole trip, I lifted my camera, and took a few pictures of my best friend, who, I believe, was unaware. This was the first time that she was able to have a window seat, and she was wholly taking it in, drinking in every detail about the gorgeous liftoff.

I took the pictures and my heart hurt. The connection of seeing her look out the window, expectantly, fully watchful, quiet, waiting for more .... collided with the realization of waiting for Jesus. Quiet. Expectant. Waiting for reality to turn back on itself and the nightmare to be over. Waiting for Jesus to make it all right, the expectation of joy restored.

I hope you don't mind, L. ... you are this blog post. :) I love you. ~ JM

The sun just streamed in through our plane windows, lighting up her hair and hands and everything ... and I just had to capture it. I felt like time was flying and flying by, and I had no hold on it, except what I could capture in my camera. I'm so glad I did.

I cannot look at this picture without thinking of the commitment and love L. has for J., her husband. They are devoted to each other, and their children, and it is beautiful.

After a few minutes, I knew I couldn't get close enough to take pictures, so I handed the camera to L., and told her to have at it. She could see, and I couldn't, and she'd take just as good (or better) pictures than me anyways. :) So she did. She sat there, clicking away, twisting around for extra glances. There was so much beautiful water. Sometimes, she'd breathe: "Ooh. Look", and Mom or I would lean over her and gaze down, and there would be an "oh my goodness" moment, because it was so unlike the coastal water and bays that we are so accustomed to.

A lighthouse in the cold waters and rocks.

With Third Day (off of L.'s ipod) songs streaming constantly through the back of my mind, I felt again how it was so surreal being on that plane, when our world had shattered a few weeks before. It was something we couldn't wrap our minds around, or even try. I look at these pictures and hear Third Day. L. and I listened to her songs going to Boston, coming home, and a few chances in between .... I hear the songs and I'm there again. How perfectly the lyrics fit our broken hearts. We ached for comfort, and found some there.

"Yesterday you found your heart was broken,
and tomorrow doesn't leave much room for hope.
Today you'll find that My arms are wide open,
and My heart, My heart is full of love, oh yeah ...

Come on let Me love you now, Come on let Me love you,
and hold you through the storms, I will keep you safe and warm.

Come on let Me love you now, Come on let Me love you,
and kiss away your tears, I will always be here ... Come on let Me love you."
"Let Me love you" ~ Third Day

We had seen the sun ahead, and seen its rays light up in silver on the water, making incredible reflections ...

but we couldn't see full west until awhile later, when the sky had darkened. The plane banked to the South, and we could see straight West.

The three of us gasped as one, and I whispered how "It looks like Heaven is pouring out", and L. agreed in a whisper back. Silence fell as we stared in awe. It was so so beautiful, and Heaven seemed so, so close. And my heart broke again. "Father", my heart cried, "we seem so close. Heaven seems so close. Just let us be there. On the other side. With you.". Heaven seemed so unbearably near, as if we could grasp the feathered clouds and SEE our way in, past the beams of yellow gold upon the cities below, as if Heaven was THERE, and we were so, so close to seeing and understanding and being where we ached and longed to be.

It was so, so beautiful. God gave us such a lovely gift on the way home, a time of sweet rest and beauty as we gazed upon what He works with His hands in His creation, and how very close He felt to my heart. His grace was evident .... and in His arms He bore us home to FL that night.

In His arms He has gently borne us; He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.
He has kept us safe, and stored every one of our tears in a bottle, He has held us and loved us, He has sustained us and carried us, He has been faithful and true.

.... and that's what I always want to remember about October 19th, 2009.
Mama and L. - I love you both always and forever, and I cherish the memories of those days.
~ Jean Marie ~

"What is His purpose herein, he knoweth best who hath taken your soul in tutoring. Your faith may be boldy charitable of Christ, that however matters go, the worst shall be a tired traveller, and a joyful and sweet welcome home: the back of your winter night is broken. Look to the east - the day sky is breaking; think not that Christ loseth time or lingereth unsuitably."
"The Loveliness of Christ" ~ Samuel Rutherford

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We ache for Thee -

"Lord, we ache for what is ... and what we miss. We ache with loss and we ache for MORE.
We stumble through emotions and memories and pray for comfort and rest.
We sit in the quiet that is so loud, and we work our way through these days.
We ache for our Eternal Home, we ache for understanding, we ache for Thee.
Lord, whisper Thy peace to our souls, and be glorified."
~ Jean Marie ~

Monday, October 11, 2010

Emmy Rae Day -

A letter from me, Jean Marie, to you: Emily Rachael.

"Dear Sweet Emmy Rae ...
Today is your 20th birthday ... although I don't get to see you today, I'm thankful that I am able to spend today knowing you are my friend ... and one of the best ones, at that. I am thankful that you love our friendship together and that we both are working hard at it, as hard as can be ... it's not always easy, it's not always sweet ... but it is always tempered by God's precious grace. As we keep God at the center of our friendship, He continues to grow us both and fire us ever towards the jewels of Him we are becoming, out of the coal and ashes of ourselves.

I am so so thankful for you.

I remember when Anna and I started bringing you into our activities and things we did together, and you stopped being "little sister" and more of "good friend", which changed into "best friend" as the months and years went on. :) The same thing happened with Olivia, and even though I have separate best friend relationships with the 3 of you, I'm so very thankful that God has allowed us to have so much fun as a group. We really have a wonderful time as the 4 of us!! :)

Or as the 17 of us. Or as the 25 of us. Or as .... the entire gang of who-all that gathers. :) Which I think is wonderful, and so rare at our age ... that we all get along and have a great time, whatever we do. :) I just love love love our gang.

I also love Jean Marie and Emily together.
There's been some very special moments ... and I pray for many many more together.

We laugh and grieve together, we sit and sing together, we just BE together.

We make impromptu moments the best. They pop out of nowhere and make me laugh hysterically much much later when I realize how the rest of the gang follows some of your crazy-hysterical moves. I love your exuberance!! (btw, this is one of my favorite pictures of all time, of the 3 of you, pretty much anywhere. Sound of Music, meet Strawberry Festival Day of Epicness.)

I love your sunglasses and I love our bros. and I love our chocolate bacon. I love that whenever we talk about Isaac and Lydiana getting married we get SO STINKIN' GIDDY that we almost get tears in our eyes, because it is so AMAZING, and God is so wonderful to bring them together to get married! AUGH!!!!
(ok. got distracted. sorry)

Emily, you are special. I just wanted to remind you. :)

Emily ... you move my heart. Sometimes when I hear you sing, its all I can do to not start crying ... or I'll just give up and cry. :) You will know why, and put your arms around me, and hold me until I get it back together. Thank you for being a comforting friend.

I love listening to you sing with your sisters, some of the best Kitchen Duty has been had in your house, singing song after song, the harmonies swelling, rising, falling, fading off ... and bursting forth moments later in worship. I love that. I love being a part of it.

I love watching your family perform and the interaction that goes on. :)

I can't help smiling when you do. You lift people's hearts when you flash brilliance in their direction. *blinding flash* I've been hit by the Emily!!! YAH!! (hahaha, sorry.)

I love watching you with the people you love best, your parents, your sisters, your friends .... seeing them shine in knowing how you love them, and how you serve them in differing ways.

I love that I get home and have 30 pictures on my camera that I didn't take, because you confiscated it and took hilarious pictures that I get to have without even being in the moment!! :D I love how stinkin' adorable you and EmilyCase can look. hahahaha! Gracious!

You are lovely, my friend. Again with the reminders. ;)

Emily, we haven't always understood each other. There have been times of intense pain between us, and we've both been at losses at how to fix it. God fixed it. I praise Him. It would hurt so much to lose you as my friend ... how faithful is our Father, and how good He is to us!

We haven't understood life. and why. We have talked and talked and gone around in circles and still sat in broken tears, coming back to the only thing we understand is that God is loving and good, that His will is perfect and holy, and we just won't ever understand.

We have had great losses, and we have grieved deeply. We have grown up through watching our families endure deep pain and hard times, we have questioned God and we have trusted God. We have sometimes given more than we have received back, and felt frustrated and confused.

God has been our fortress. He has sustained, held and led us. He is holy.

Today I realized that I spent time with you on your birthday last year, but it wasn't to party .... I'm not sure if you remember that car ride back from your church to your house. I do. It is all I remember from that day. I can remember your hand reaching back from the front seat to rest on my knee, and you keeping it there. I can see you looking over at Anna driving my car, exchanging that knowing and helpless look of grief, I can hear you whispering comfort to me the slow ride home. I can remember asking you to replay the song on my Chris Rice CD.

I didn't ever remember it being your birthday. And you spent that night comforting a friend. If I never thanked you, I'm thanking you now. It meant the world at that moment.

Thank you, Emily. Thank you so much.
I look forward to many many more joyous years of being best friends with you ... I pray God's immense blessings upon you and your family, the "garment of praise" upon your days, precious memories with those you love, and the fulfillment of Christ in every day, knowing His unchangeable love towards you as His child.

In summary, Emily darling ... I love you. Happy 20th birthday. :)
~ Jean Marie ~

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I would have despaired -

and the Jesus I love and adore is still worthy:
of all praise, of all honor, of all love, of all glory, of all trust and of all obedience.
He is still Savior, Redeemer, Father, Healer, King, Lord and Creator.
He is still faithful, merciful, unchanging, loving, giver of grace, gentle, perfect, and beautiful.
He doth not punish us, and has already forgiven all, has already paid for all ....
It has been a year .... and even through the darkest valleys I have known ....
He is God and He is holy.

"He will never leave us nor forsake us." (Hebrews 13:5)

"It is Well with my Soul" by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873

"I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage, yes, wait for the Lord."
~ Psalm 27:13-14 ~

(Psalm 147:3)

We wait, O Lord ... haste the day ... when we see the goodness of You, Lord,
in the land of the living ... we would have despaired, had we not our hope in Thee ...
You have borne our griefs, You have carried our sorrows, Your love wilt never let us go ...
and one day all these present sufferings will fade in the glory of Thee ....

"Lord, precious Lord that I love and adore .... we wait Thy coming day."
~ Jean Marie ~

D. & J. families - if I could possibly love you more than I did last year ... I do.

Friday, October 8, 2010

We wait -

"O my Lord, come over the mountain at one stride."
Tear the veil, shatter the glass, and bring us face to face,
side by side, only, ever, always .... with You, Lord.
We know Thy glory shall far outshine these present sufferings,
and so for thy coming .... we wait.
~ Jean Marie ~

I'm disabling comments for the next few days, you can e-mail if you'd like. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Colorado Part II -

Colorado. Its beauty completely awed and captured my gaze, my third trip in my lifetime, and I was blown away by the beauty of God's creation all over again. :)

Many times I found myself wandering around outside, no plan in mind .... just to be outside in the amazing cool or breezy air, the crunchy dirt, the thin grass, the waving wheatgrass, the rustling pines, the sound of the wind as it moved up and over and around everything ... so differently than it does here in Florida. Everything new, different and beautiful.

We so enjoyed our trip, even though I caught a cold, and Momma had a 3-day headache ..."these present sufferings" were nothing in the light of the joy we had there. :)

I loved being out in the stillness, alone, with just TIME to do nothing for a few minutes. It was so glorious to have nothing to do except be outside!!

My hair often tumbles down and around and into the picture, so this time I just let it ... I love the way it weaves around itself, and my boots in the background against the brown grasses.

The Colorado Rockies. Taken from a hill in Monument.

"The Truck", this old Chevy truck had a Montana plate, and I saw it twice, as we drove around downtown Monument .... I just loved the color and the ruggedness of it. :)

No matter the cold, I love to be in bare feet ....
Blue Jeans, Bare feet and grass stains. :) Pretty much sums up my outside time.

Momma Dear and I. Two days before we left, the evening light was glorious, and we took a few shots, I'm so glad we did, because they look so pretty! I will always love any Momma/Daughter shots we have. :) It was wonderful being in CO together!

The beautiful, glorious and long sunset over the midwest US from our plane window ... what a sweet sweet reminder of the beauty of Christ in all that He has made and has done!!
and so ... we are home. As of Tuesday night, we are home. :)

We had such a wonderful, blessed time in Colorado, thank you, P. family!!
Congratulations to David, Desiree and Ian .... we love you all so very very much.

Last night I sat all curled up in my airplane seat, wrapped in my Ocean-colored shawl, gazing out at the setting sun, the splashes of ponds seemed like golden tears to me, the lakes and streams on fire from the sun, deepening into darkness of night with lit cities and vast expanses of dark forests of trees .... and I sang. I ran through the list of songs that have meant the most to me over the past 12 months, have comforted me the most.

I sang softly and with the knowledge that God is our Father.

I could not help but reflect on the year past, and all the pain and grief and sorrow it has held, and the faithfulness of our God as Father, as Comforter, as Unchangeable Savior.

Being still, wrapped up in His arms of love, enveloped in it completely ...
just like I was wrapped in my shawl. The parallel was stark, and it was pure comfort.

How very very grateful I am to the Father who lovest us so!!!
With love to you all,
~ Jean Marie ~