The Fall passed by so quickly. The whirlwind of Andrew's beautiful wedding and reception in August quickly lead into moving Sarah into her first apartment to start grad school. Then school started for my younger crew and I struggled to calm my heart in the midst of all the "new normals" that had been introduced into my life in such a short time.
As the holidays, and new memories pressed upon me, that feeling of stuck continued. I missed out blogging about the fun, and sometimes stressful, details of the Advent and Christmas. It took all of my energy just to juggle the everyday with all the special details that time of year brings. I thought often of how I missed my blog, but the timing just wasn't right.
Two days after Christmas, our entire family joined my parents on their most generous gift of a Disney Vacation. I had done the planning over many months...planned out our schedules, restaurants, and fast passes. Tried to work out rest time, and older sibling time and couple time. Worried about everyone staying healthy in the time leading up to and during the trip. (I have a little PTSD over a former Disney trip where several members of our party was taken out one by one by a horrible stomach bug over the course of the vacation!)
The trip had lots of fun moments. There were a few moments that weren't as magical as others....travelling with 14 people to Disney at their busiest time of year definitely has its challenges!
Thankfully we stayed healthy until the day we returned home. Ellie ended up starting with strep throat, followed by Kate a few days later, and Peter a couple of days after that! We had a week and a half of "normal" followed by round 2 of strep for Kate(!), Mike and Andrew's birthdays last weekend, and Ellie coming down with the flu and being out of school for this entire week! And with school vacation next week, I'm staring at another week where there will be no "normal".
So, what made me feel unstuck? Simply, love.
And not just because it's Valentine's Day. I'm not talking about the starry eyed love of Hallmark romances.(although I love watching them!) I'm not talking about flowers, chocolates, romantic dinners or special desserts. (although all those are great too!)
I'm talking about the deep love that matters the most. The hug when you've had a bad day, walking a fussy newborn so you can (finally) take a shower, taking turns caring for a sick child through the night, driving to countless practices and games, spending time with a challenging teenager, heading to the store to grab that one thing you forgot so you don't have to, working so hard to provide for your family and praying just as hard for them as well.
Deep love is family and relationships. Deep love is highlighted at the more extreme moments in life, like births, weddings, and when someone is preparing to go home to God.
Jay's Grandpa, Ray, will be making that journey home at any time. Grandpa has lived 99 years but won't quite reach his 100th birthday in June. Grandpa has lived a life devoted to God and family. Very soon he will be reunited with his true love, Dorothy. The love that they lived for their 65 years of marriage, and the 10 years he has lived without her, will continue on in their 11 children, 30 grandchildren, and 27 great grandchildren(so far).
What an amazing legacy of love...
Grandpa's children, grandchildren and great children are blessed to have years and years of wonderful memories....especially his love of babies! Grandpa has always loved little ones. Even as his health has deteriorated, nothing brought a smile to his face faster than seeing one of his youngest great grandchildren. They always bring him so much joy.
|Grandpa, Jay, and his youngest great grandchild, Lyla|
Grandpa had a real love of learning and a very intellectual mind. He was always reading books about his faith. Jay has some cherished letters his grandfather wrote to him over the years about faith and family. As Grandpa entered into his 90's, dementia began to creep in, but his joy never left. He was frequently singing songs and hymns and reciting poetry and quotes that had been written on his heart. One of quotes he said the most will be hanging in our home soon thanks to the talent of my soon to be daughter-in-law, Marisa:
"To know and be known,
to love and be loved,
that is the essence of happiness."
On this bittersweet Valentine's Day, I hope everyone feels known and loved. Reach out and share that message to someone that might need to hear it today.
Please say a prayer for Grandpa and for his whole family. This Valentine's Day is certainly bittersweet, but I am so grateful that God gave us such a loving, faithful man as an example in our lives. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
|A favorite family pic of Grandpa and Grandma...pure joy!|