"Isn't it beautiful?" says Caroline as she looks at the Ozark mountains out her window as we roll down the interstate.
Caroline is 5 years old. How did this happen?! And to add to my shock of leaving preschool times behind I tried to add her Lilypie age ticker to the top of the webpage and they don't even make them for kids over the age of 4! Wow. She is growing up.
Every word I type I am dutifully, carefully choosing. I am hyper-aware that dear Hannah's life on Earth ended at age 4 as her heavenly life began.
The end of January continued to be as trying as the beginning. The month ended with my 33 birthday and Tyler's 90 year old grandmother passing away. To attend the funeral we drove down to another world, yes...south Arkansas. All joking aside, I didn't realize how pretty and peaceful it is there. Thomas' mom is from the same area as Tyler's grandmother so it was a very reflective time for all of us as I laid eyes on the place where these remarkable women spent considerable time. Listening to the eulogies from Tyler's family it all struck home, yet again, how no matter how old you are when it's your time to go, your life is guaranteed full of trials and joys. MaHolly, as the family called her, became a widow at the age of 37 with 6 children to raise. Talk about difficult times. Her children grew up to have her strength and also face trials and joys of their own. Two of her own children went on to heaven before she did. One of those being Tyler's mother.
The day of MaHolly's visitation also coincided with Caroline's 5th birthday. After what our family has been through, birthdays and holidays hold much more weight than they did before 2009. So having these two events on the same day was...interesting. I feel I know Tyler even better now that I've seen the house he and his siblings played in when visiting their grandmother and also by meeting extended family, hearing many stories that had not been retold in quite a while. Then 2 weeks later was Hannah's 7th birthday, she spent it in heaven.
|Caroline with the blocks her grandpa and daddy made her for her 1st birthday. Such a blessing for her to have the only birthday gift her dad got to give her, and they were made with his own hands.|
|C and Aly|
|Caroline's work from bible class: Jesus saves WHEN we doubt. Because we all do doubt. Just like Peter.|
I want to be more like that. It seems the last few weeks instead of waking up welcoming each day, I wonder what trial it will hold. This isn't how I'm supposed to live life to the fullest as Thomas' life motto was. I'm well aware of it and I have every confidence that I will bounce back with a vengeance and persevere, but it takes vigilance. Vigilantly reading the bible, vigilantly praying and vigilantly giving God the worries or doubt that creeps in. The paradox is that it sounds like a lot of work, but in all actuality it causes me to be FREE. He takes on my burdens and His yoke is light.
I just wish I could be like this 100% of the time, but alas, we weren't meant to be perfect here and I am for sure not. He uses our imperfections to teach us, to draw us closer to Him because He wants to have a relationship with us, not be a magician for us.
|An electrifying day. Unicorn is always in tow with Caroline.|
He knew as my ladies church group AND Thursday night bible study girls began our new study of the book of James that He would be teaching me that I have big areas to gain wisdom in.
He KNEW I couldn't handle learning all I am suppose to in one horrible month, He knew that it takes each of us a lifetime to learn lessons, He's slowly revealing them to us in a way that He knows will make us more powerful for Him. He will not break us past the point where we won't fulfill our purposes. He's got us in His hands the whole time, whether it feels like it or not. Feelings are deceiving, His promises are not.
As I had tears streaming down my face in the car, even before hearing Caroline remark on how beautiful our surroundings are, I realized right then why for over a month she has been singing over and over and over a certain song. She asks me to sing it multiple times a day, she asks me to play it on my iPhone and in the car. She sings it herself. "You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek, You are my all in all."
(Caroline singing "All in All" a week ago, while Thomas knocks over a lamp as accompaniment.)
Hello, Bonnie. This is God. I've been telling you every day multiple times a day through my amazing, sweet, sensitive, daughter of God, Caroline that: "You are not strong, I am strong and that's all that you need. I am your all in all. Quit trying to be strong and when you are weak--which you are,all the time--I am YOUR STRENGTH.Quit giving yourself credit for being strong, It's me and I will never cease to be your strength." (Since we have a close relationship, He can tell me harsh things and I know it's for my own good :-) )
|Daddy Thomas at age 5|
|Caroline age 5|
I have such a thick skull. Thank you, God for opening my ears. I've been praying to see you for about a month (and you have shown yourself in many ways), but I haven't been praying to hear you. I get it now.
Yes, Caroline, yes it is beautiful. Life is beautiful. Even when circumstances are not. Even when we feel down or beat up by life, the reality is Life is Beautiful because God gave it all breath. He knew the trials we would face and He planned a life preserver for us in Jesus Christ. Thank you, God! Tomorrow morning I may wake up and clap for having another day here to spend with family and friends.
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
|Joy: Mimi, C, and Poppy|
P.S. It took me a month to memorize these verses, maybe now that I've blogged about them I can memorize the next 8 this month!
|Joy. (Thomas and cousin Tate)|