Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Abundant Grace

     Luke came down a few nights ago to inform me that I hadn't written in so many months and days.  I forgot the amount quickly but asked later how he even knew that.  "The blog. Mom, I have been reading the blog, how else would I know?"  I cringed and he asked if he wasn't suppose to read it.  I quickly answered that of course he could read it.  I wrote it for almost anyone to be allowed to read, I just hadn't thought about the boys reading it.  Levi piped up to say he was reading it also.  Ian chimed in to see what he was not getting to read that the older boys were.  My stomach sank as I tried to smile.   "That is fine, really, it is your story, you should be able to read it."  I must have not sounded convincing because for the past three days Luke and Levi have peppered me with questions as to why I have stopped writing and why I seemed hesitant for them to read back across the years.
     I wasn't sure why, so as I stumbled through my answers, I started asking them questions.  "Luke, there is so much written about such hard moments, intimate details shared, your name and words for anyone to read. Doesn't that bother you?"  He smiled easy and answered "Why would it?  It is all true."  Ugh.  "Levi, don't you think we should just keep it to ourselves now?  Don't you care that it is all out there? "  Levi shrugged and replied "Honestly mom it helps to know that people know our story.  I think it can help other people in hard times. That isn't why it is comforting to me, it just is."

     We started a family journal the night after Jeff's memorial.  I wrote down in pen how we felt, what we hoped for, how we hurt, what we wanted life to look like.  I wrote for days until my finger knotted and my palm ached.  We decided to write each month.  We answered four questions each time.  What was the hardest?  What was the best?  How had God surprised us? and  What we still hoped for?  Twelve entries for twelve months.  In the beginning the entries were bursting with grief and hope.  Then they became desperate and worn.  Now they seem grateful and calm.  It has become a record for only our eyes to read and remember.  I guess that is why I thought so little of the words here and everything I had already typed out.  I have not gone back and read our story as it unfolded here.  I haven't been brave enough yet.

     A year ago we said goodbye to one of the greatest men we knew.  He was 37 years old, nine months into cancer.  I remember thinking that was exactly the amount of time it took to knit him in Margaret's womb.  By 4'o clock I climbed the stairs to tell my sweet boys that their dad was finished with this earthly race.  I was so sure of Heaven on that day.  So completely sure that all was true.  That we had not believed a fairy tale to ease the pain of suffering and the goodbye.  It felt as though a thick curtain had been pulled aside and I glimpsed at what was more real than the stairs I climbed up.  I spoke to the boys of God's great love, of His promise of provision and protection.  And as we navigated through those first weeks it felt like we were walking  through a thick fog.  We woke up with aching hearts and sick stomachs.  I wrote down prayers for a way back to Scotland.  I wrote down our utter need to be go back to what we had.
     The time slipped by as we stayed in Jeff's childhood home.  The house in Scotland got packed up as I wept out the first "Why does it have to look like this?" One of many to come.  Three bags were delivered, and later five more.  I watched as the boys dug through what was familiar trying to smell the house and country it was shipped from.  We continued to pray for a job, a house, and all that would be needed to fill it.  I met with women who let me pour out my heart like water.  Who always listened and always reminded me of who God was.  Of whose I was.  My identity faltered without the framework of Jeff, marriage, Scotland, and Young Life.  I felt muddled and lost.  I felt afraid.  If I seemed strong or certain it was not in myself, it was in a God who was good and would keep me from drowning.
     And as the weeks slipped into months my heart grew heavier.  As more seemed to be stripped away I stumbled as I led the boys.  Always writing in my  journal, always searching scripture, always trying to outrun the "What a waste..." and "if onlys..."  that woke me in the night.  It was six months in that the boys saw me crumble into myself.  I had prayed daily for joy as my strength, for a home and a soft landing place.  I had worn myself out begging for Scotland.  I could still tell my boys with that God was good, that all was real, that what was to come was better than what is.  I just had resigned myself to hurt and aching until I finished the race myself.  I was wrapped up in the hard and empty spaces without Jeff.  The boys saw me falter and fail but they also saw me continue to choke out broken prayers for His provision and joy.
     These are how our days look now.  Since the last time I have written I have stumbled awake at 6am each day.  I sip coffee and read with Zoe still sleepy and snuggled next to me.  We sit on a blue couch surrounded by beautiful things that were not mine six and a half months ago.  At six-thirty Ian stumbles down the stairs to snuggle with a happy dog and mom.  Ian wakes up chatty and so thirty minutes later I am still saying "Yes, and then what?" as I send Zoe up to wake up Luke and Levi.  We eat breakfast and dig out clean socks from a laundry basket in the hallway.  By seven-twenty I turn from a happy "Did any one have dreams last night?" mom, to "Please get your shoes on.  I really would like to get to school before seven-thirty" mom. We wave goodbye to Luke and Zoe and walk or drive (depending on the
weather) the three blocks to school.  Luke bikes each day, no matter the weather.  For the next seven and a half hours I am teaching, loving, correcting, laughing with, encouraging, and caring about twenty-one First Graders. Ian is number sixteen in that line up of twenty-one.  He tells me when I knock one out of the park or when a lesson is lacking pizazz.  When I am walking my students to Gym I sometimes see Luke or Levi in Choir.  When I walk my students to lunch I know I will see Levi in Gym.  I always try not to do the toothy grin wave.  When I am lining my students up to leave Luke walks towards me to say goodbye. He never leaves without saying goodbye.

     Luke bikes home and Levi, Ian and I head up to my class to tidy up and set up for the next day.  We tumble in at 4:45pm to Luke and Zoe looking out from Luke's bedroom window.  I stare at what is in the fridge and try to use my art degree to be creative and conjure up a suitable dinner.  By seven-thirty I am pretty sure it is bedtime and the boys are pretty sure it is basketball, Lego, t.v., or run around the house like a wild man time.  We pack lunches and head upstairs for Ian to read to me and then I to him.  We all read ourselves to a sleepy state and I turn off light saying prayers and good nights.
     And then we do it again.  This is the calm harbor we have landed in.  This is not what I expected or could picture as I wrote in the family journal that very first time.  This season I am focused on two things outside of understanding that God is present and good in our lives.  Those two things are to love my boys fully and to love my students fully.  It is a season where I drop the ball constantly on any other court than those.  But, it is a good place.  It is a good place to know that we are exactly where we are suppose to be.  Our hearts still ache for Jeff and Scotland but we go to sleep at peace and wake up in joy.  I do not know where the next year will take us but I know we will run the race differently now that we know who is waiting at the finish line.
     There has not been a single day in this season that I have felt I had to walk this alone.  Thank you for the cards, notes, artwork, prayers, love, and support.  You have stretched our hearts bigger in this process and we are so grateful.
                                                          Much love, Becca


  1. Blessings to you and the Boys Becca...ILYM

  2. Love you, Becca, and we love your courage and grace. Your sons are learning courage and grace from you. Thank you for sharing your (difficult) story.

  3. Love you, Becca, and we love your courage and grace. Your sons are learning courage and grace from you. Thank you for sharing your (difficult) story.

  4. Becca, thanks for the honest look at life and faith, and thank you boys for encouraging her to write!

  5. Thank you so very much for this update. I know it took courage, yet hope it provided at least some form of additional healing. I hold on to a few precious things whenever eternal doubt arises, and all too often lack for perspective when trying to get the kids out the door for school. You have offered deep help and insight into both, and I am grateful. Again, thank you.

  6. Becca,and Boys.Thank you for your story a new year a new chapter. Your boys are growing and learning from you and as you all move on to a new journey your writing gives each person that reads it understanding into God's plan and that each plan for each of us is different but just as important. Thank you boys for encouraging your Mother to continue to write, .God bless each one of you.

  7. "I could still tell my boys with that God was good, that all was real, that what was to come was better than what is. I just had resigned myself to hurt and aching until I finished the race myself. I was wrapped up in the hard and empty spaces without Jeff." I heard about you through family connections, and read through your blog, having walked a somewhat similar road. These words you shared rang true and deeply resonated - they put voice to a reality that I have found hard to quantify. I hope you do keep writing...Matt

  8. Becca, You and the boys are never far from our thoughts and prayers. When Jeff entered glory it seemingly sent a ripple effect of God's love across the world. We are thankful for your family and continually pray God's staying grace to guide you and the boys.