Even when Jonathan was in college, I can't think of a time when two months passed without seeing our son. And, in the last four or five years there was never a time when even two weeks went by without seeing him. Except for his years at Baylor, Jonathan was always part of our daily life.
There are tolerable moments, but still no tolerable days. To be perfectly honest, both Pam and I have expressed the feeling to one another more than once that if Jesus could take us now without causing pain to anyone else, we would welcome that. It is no way to live. Still, God has given both of us great reasons not just to live, but to hang on to the hope that joy will return to our lives.
We have always been a close family, and I always thought a family that did not take our relationships for granted. But now, I can definitely say that there is an even greater appreciation for the simple things and for the time that we are able to spend together.
Three or four times a week I use my lunch hour to go on dog walks with Dani. Sometimes Pam is able to join us as well. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we are just content to be together. We have seen a lot of cool things on our walks -- baby ducks, Canadian Geese, water snakes, lots of turtles, and most recently a bunch of baby Armadillos. Check out this video of Jonathan's dog, Ulysses, and his encounter with the Armadillos. Jonathan would have laughed until he cried at this.
Christian returns home from India on June 3rd, and we are incredibly excited to see him! I know that living in India has been a great experience for him, but the house has been impossibly quiet without him. His absence has added considerably to our feelings of loneliness. I am so glad Christian will be home on Jonathan's birthday.
Its funny, but Pam thought she was so brave when Christian left for India. The picture I took of Pam, Christian and Tommy at the airport told the real story. Its an expression that I am afraid both of
us wear far more often than we realize.
The other thing that keeps me going is that I can see clearly that God is not done with me here. More and more I see the people around me beginning to "get it." It is not so much anything I am doing as it is just people talking about the true character of God and encouraging one another to engage in the struggle to become more like Jesus.
Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to get breakfast with a few of the guys after our Saturday morning Men's Bible study. What a joy our time together was! During our time together not once did anyone talk about what they needed God to do for them. It was all about the privilege of being involved in what God is doing in the world. It was a group of imperfect men, who will no doubt continue to be imperfect in their execution, but who approach the Kingdom of God with humility and with pure hearts. And, I will take that any day.
5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.
Nehemiah 8:5-12 (NIV)