It was a year ago today my cousin, Teresa, called. Her voice came through the phone lines, traveling over the miles, to share our Uncle Jim had died unexpectedly.
Throughout this past year, my mind has been remembering many, many memories of a very special man. He always had an ornery grin and delighted in seeing me. Always. I still go about my day expecting him to come walking up. He always made time to stop and chat a bit when he would see me on a job site. It is a lesson he left for many. He always made time.
The first memory I have of him is being home on leave from the Vietnam War over Christmas. He grabbed me up and threw me in the air over his head. I can still remember looking down at his grinning face, laughter bubbling out from him, as though I am looking at a photograph.
The war changed him. He didn't talk of it much, but I have heard throughout the years bits and pieces of the hell he endured. Before his marriage ended, there were two children brought into our family, Angela and Jimmie who became his pride and joy. I am so thankful for the relationship he shared with them. I am praying their memories will help their hearts during this painful time.
"I'll give you a new heart. I'll put a new spirit in you. I'll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart."
Honestly, there have been many, many times I wished for a heart of stone. A heart that couldn't, wouldn't, didn't feel. It would have made enduring so much easier.
But then, when I look at the blessings which cause my heart to over runneth - I am so thankful my heart is continually being transformed into one like His. To drink in deeply His pure and perfect Love.
"You'll be my people! I'll be your God!"
Our ABBA is the only one, the only way, to have a blessing during the pain. He is the only one who is able to fill the hole left by those we love in their passing. He is the only one who can mend our hearts, for He is the Great Comforter. The Great Mender. He made our hearts. He knows our hearts.
He also reminds me this place isn't what life is all about. This is only a temporary place and one day - one day - for eternity -
there will be no more death.
there will be no more pain.
there will be no more suffering.
There will only be completed and new hearts.