Once again, it's been awhile since I've carved out time to update our lives. I'm writing from Trinidad, after spending three days of R&R on the island of Tobago, prior to doing a marriage conference for Trinidad-Tobago Urban Ministries this weekend. We're feeling refreshed, relaxed, and deeply indulged by the God of all creation who has outdone Himself in this part of the world. The beauty is breathtaking, from the incredible sunsets to the undersea life, all of which display boundless creativity and attention to detail. The heavens and earth do declare His majesty and glory. We are blessed beyond words.
The month leading up to this was breathless—in very wonderful ways, for sure. The day after "Worth It", I flew to California to hang out with Kari and the kids while Gabe attended a conference with several pastors from his church. What a joy to waken every morning to the very scary roar of a little "monster in the making”—and to end each day reading books and praying with our precious west coast grandchildren. In between, we did what mothers do: feeding, cleaning, going to the park, feeding, cleaning, playing in the backyard, feeding . . . you get the drift. I was amazed when Gabe returned that we had scratched nothing off our "to do" list (paint a room, teach Kari to sew, decorate Ana's room) and we were pooped! How easy to forget how much energy and time it takes to run a household with young children. I loved every minute of it and considered it a great privilege to have received the invitation from Kari.
|Superman and Wonder Woman kept us entertained and going during the week I spent with them.|
I was equally privileged to be invited to join Lisa and the UCLA women's basketball team and staff for their end-of-the-season celebration/awards evening. I felt so blessed to have been in town to accept the invitation from Head Coach Cori Close, and even more blessed to enjoy the evening. Lisa has tirelessly served this crew of 16 student athletes, 9 of whom have been re-habbing injuries or recovering from concussions, etc. When one athlete said, "Were it not for my angel Lisa, I would never have played any time this season" a murmur of affirmation and confirmation was audible in the room. She has made a great transition from JMU to UCLA and loves working on a staff that is very Christ-centered, from the top down. Very, very cool.
|UCLA Women's Basketball Head Coach Cori Close leads the team with a commitment to Christlikeness. What a privilege for Lisa to work for her!|
I took the train to San Diego on Monday, April 14, to spend the next week with my mom. It's hard to express how meaningful that week was to me for so many reasons. First off, it was juxtaposed with the previous week, during which I lived in the midst of new beginnings, new life, the genesis of life's spectrum. Being with my 84-year-old mom—who is learning to live life as a new widow—was rich, instructive, and oh so fun!! She does make 84 look young! Both weeks were filled with hope, life, trust, and love, which apparently are no respecters of age. The most notable difference was seeing life through Brandon's 3.5-year-old eyes, which were full of discovery, expectation, and virgin delight, and my Mom's 84-year-old eyes, which were full of reflection, wisdom, and contentment. Precious moments all around.
Mom and I hit the road daily, doing errands, eating out, and getting things done. We watched "Jeopardy" and "The Wheel of Fortune" nightly, had visits with all the San Diego sisters, and talked, talked, and talked—interspersed with laughter and tears. We reminisced about my dad with great thanksgiving and acknowledged that his absence was profoundly noticed and painful. We also talked about how thankful we are that he is with Jesus and no longer captive to his broken-down body and mind. It was such a privilege to spend these days together.
Our wonderful week continued when we took the train to Santa Clarita on Good Friday to spend Easter with the Garcias and Lisa. Paul also joined the gang, after having spent 10 days “introverting” and getting lots of things done for Home Improvement Ministries as well as a few household tasks. He was at least refreshed, if not also rested. Such a happy reunion!!
What a spectacular weekend we had celebrating the Resurrection! The Easter production at Grace Baptist Church was so well done, as it presented the earthly life of Jesus using scripture as the "script." Their Easter service was right up our alley as it included the great Easter hymns of years gone by. Since sacred music has been such a huge part of our family tradition and there was nothing my father loved more than having hymn sings around our family piano, we all thought of how much he would've loved the service. The memories brought tears, and then the realization that singing hymns of praise is probably what he's doing non-stop now, brought smiles.
|Great Grandma Essie is well loved by Baby Ana and Brandon.|
Between those "big" events, we baked, played baseball in the yard, rocked a sleeping baby, discovered Easter baskets and had an egg hunt, took photos, enjoyed the Garcia's traditional Saturday morning breakfast of donuts from the local donut shop (which Gabe and Brandon fetch early in the morning), had a yummy Easter feast which started with artichokes and ended with strawberry cream pie, and reveled in being family by blood as well as by spiritual birth. It really couldn't have been a sweeter time.
Sending my mom back on the train alone was the hardest part. We're all still adjusting to her being alone. But she's strong and her confidence is in the Lord, and He will give her what she needs when she needs it. So blessed.
Four generations together, doing life, learning from each other, loving beyond differences posed by age and stage. These weeks have been a microcosm of family ministries, of why we do what we do to connect families and strengthen marriages. How sweet to have the natural laboratory of our own family fleshing this out!