So many things have happened in the last week or so…
I returned from California where I spent a wonderful week with Julie and David and their five beautiful children. After the tumultuous year they have had, it was heartwarming to see Benjamin, Joshua, Hannah, James and Anastasia truly blending together as siblings. James was helping Hannah with her new cross stitch. Hannah tackled Anastasia with hugs and kisses. Joshua was teaching Anastasia to play the piano, while Benjamin did the same for James. It was fun to see them all huddled around a game on the floor, feet all intertwined and, with much laughter, breaking out into a wrestling match now and then. James’ and Anastasia’s English is coming along and communication is much easier. I loved it as they opened up and shared their hearts with me and a little of their past. I treasured my one-on-one time with the other three, as well, and tried to get a feel for how they were adjusting to the new family dynamics.
David and Julie have made a warm, comfortable home for their family and are grateful to the Lord for what they consider a new beginning in California for all seven of them as one unit. I am so proud of my daughter and her husband. They have sacrificed so much and worked so hard to do what they believe is God’s calling for them—to rescue the fatherless and give them a safe and loving home where they will have a chance to know the Savior and have not only a better life here, but eternal life as well. What they are doing is far, far from easy and only their obedience to God’s will and their love, along with the Lord’s help, enables them to do it.
Besides enjoying my children and grandchildren, I loved California! It was my first time in that state. They live within an hour of Santa Barbara, sandwiched between mountains and the coast. The climate is beautifully moderate and palm trees, cypress, fruit trees, and vineyards are all around. Their own front yard has twelve full-grown palm trees of different varieties, as well as several more that are almost half-grown. I am enthralled with palm trees!
The highlight of the week was our trip to the beach. We were all in awe as we climbed to the top of a sand dune and the Pacific Ocean lay before our eyes, with its mighty surf, and the sun reflecting off its surface. We watched in awe again a few hours later as the sun suddenly slid below the surface in a matter of seconds, and as the sky darkened, beautiful pink, orange and golden hues glowed against its backdrop. We picked up sea shells, drift wood and smooth shiny rocks deposited by the waves on the sand, and carried home our sandy treasures. Having lived in Colorado for fifteen years, it is difficult for me to choose which I love better—the beautiful majesty of mountains or the awesome power and expanse of ocean. What an amazing Creator to have fashioned them both!
All too soon it came time to fly home. It was sad to say goodbye, but then again I was eager to see Bob and Robbie. Robbie could not decide how he was going to greet me. Usually when I come home from an overnight trip, or even just from the grocery store, he is all excited to see me and whoops and hollers in his joy. The night I returned from California, there were little smiles interspersed among big pouts as if he was saying, “Hmm, I’m glad to see you, but where have you been?!!!”
There was no doubt Bob was glad I was home! He took me by the hand, told me to close my eyes and led me out to the living room. When I opened my eyes there was the Christmas tree set up and twinkling with lights (Whoo-Hoo!), a freshly cleaned carpet and a new wide-screen, HD television! (Our old fifteen year-old TV had been going out for months and we knew we would have to replace it soon, but Bob decided to surprise me with it now.) What a nice welcome home!
I had been on the mountain tops, but as a return to reality set in with all the hum-drum of daily life, it was the usual little bit of a post-vacation letdown. Oh, well. Christmas is coming and there is much to do… So much to look forward to and to prepare! So much to be thankful for as we remember Jesus coming to earth to be our Savior.
And then came Friday. As the news trickled in bit by bit about what had happened in Connecticut, our hearts were broken and the tears flowed. How could someone slaughter these little ones like that? Each of us thought of the children in our own lives and could not fathom something like that happening in our own lives. We grieved for the ones left behind, unable to even imagine the depths of the pain and sorrow they must be experiencing. The ocean depths of grief.
When I thought of those poor people I prayed that somehow they would feel the love of God and be drawn to Him; that they would feel the comfort and peace that only He can give. All I could think of were these verses from Romans: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39) If only the people of Newtown knew Jesus as their Savior so that they could experience that love! No evil, no tribulation, no power; from the mountaintops to the depths of the ocean, nothing can separate us from His love.