|This is a picture I took of a small potted tulip blooming on my back porch. It's amazing how something so simple can be so beautiful and reflect a message so much bigger than itself.|
Life happens. It does. We get caught up in it. Whether it sweeps us off our feet with joy, drowns us in its business, rocks us to sleep in its monotony, or smacks us in the face with its abruptness, life happens.
For those of you that know me, I have been drifting high on life since experiencing the birth of my third little boy, Gracen. He has definitely swept our family off our feet. That boy is pure unexpected joy, straight from Heaven. I believe he is living proof of the power of prayer. Man, life is good. God is amazing, and we couldn't be more thankful. I have spent the last nine months since he was born thanking God for his undeserved, extraordinary gift, trying to figure out how to live my life in a way that reflects my indescribably ginormous gratefulness and thankfulness.
Then a month ago on a Saturday night, my husband and I had a much needed date night. Finally, a night to hear each other talk, something we don't get to do often with three boys fighting for air time. On the way to dinner I got the phone call. It was my dad. His sister, my aunt, my Uncle Jimmy's wife of fifty years, the mother of four of my cousins, wasn't feeling well and had lost a lot of weight. She was in the hospital. Cancer. It was all over her body. It was incurable. There was nothing doctors could do. My aunt was 68 years young. A week later, she was gone.
Bam! Life smacked me in the face. Just like that. Like a huge splash of freezing cold water first thing in the morning, I was awake! As obvious and cliche as it sounds, the news hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't stop crying. I was overcome with guilt.
Now, let me back up and give you a little background and personal confession on my guilt. I come from a divorced family. My parents split up when I was 6 years old, and it was not an amicable split to say the least. The split rocked my family, immediate and extended, to the core. Don't get me wrong, time did heal things for my sister and me, and we were able to accept our situation for the better. But, time also created distance, especially from our dad's extended family. Life goes on. We grew up, and I have added to our family tree. But, the undeniable guilt that welled up in my throat when I got my dad's phone call was most definitely from the fact that I let a woman, my aunt, go from my life without letting her know how much I respect, admire, and love her often enough. I sure hope she could feel the power of my prayers and my family's prayers, if nothing else.
When bad things happen to good people, I find myself grasping for understanding. Do you ever do that? As many times as I have searched for answers, I have yet to come up with a good answer for suffering. But what I have come to know, Beth Moore, a woman with a true gift for sharing her faith in Christ, explains beautifully.
The truth is, God uses change to change us. He doesn't use it to destroy us or to distract us but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion, and destiny (from So Long Insecurity).I am awake. God. I am listening. My aunt's life, from its very beginning to how she came to be with You so soon, is full of Your loving purpose. To me, my Aunt Carolyn was full of warm, tight hugs, ridiculously delicious southern cooking, sweet smiles, kind words, and a humble, serving spirit. People were lined up out the doors of the funeral home to pay their respects to this quiet, loving lady, daughter, sister, pastor's wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, neighbor, and friend. Carolyn Highsmith lived a life "clothed with strength and dignity (Proverbs 31:25)" that can only come from a deep faith in Jesus Christ. Her faith, her life, is an inspiration, a legacy.
I am inspired by my Aunt Carolyn's story. For all of us that knew her, Carolyn Highsmith will have a lasting impact on us, making us better in just the right ways. In my case, I am reminded how precious family is. Life is unpredictable, uncertain, and busy, but that is life. That should not be the way it is with family. We need family in our lives to give us unconditional predictability, certainty, and a place to be still. It seems to me that family is God's way of wrapping us up in His arms when we need it the most on this Earth. Family, by it's very nature however you define it, is a comfortable and familiar stronghold of roots, despite personal differences and the chaotic world around us. Family offers us refuge at just the right moments. Family roots allow us to bloom in our own ways, in our own time. Thank goodness for family. Thank goodness I was lucky enough to have Aunt Carolyn in my life.
A side note to my family near and far, blood related and adopted- you are all near and dear to me. No matter how much I see you, how often we get to talk, how different or alike we are, you are a huge part of the woman I am and the woman I will become. I pray for you and think of you often. I love you, and I am thankful for you. And yes, I know I am terrible at reaching out to everyone. It's really the balancing act I struggle with, I believe. Nonetheless, I am a work in progress, and I promise to keep working on it. I hope you can love me anyway!