A Week of Loss, A Week of Love

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Tim McCarter and Dick Willingham

How could Maggy and I (and the rest of our family) thank you enough for the many many encouragements that came our way? There were comments on this blog, emails, phone calls, hugs, Facebook messages, a Group Card, Tweets, and more.  We feel surrounded by love and support and give God the credit for the way He is working through all of you.

As with most of our ‘firsts’ this past year, the anticipation of the day was worse than the actual day. Our pain was tempered by the love shown as we were surrounded by family and friends. We had a family gathering at John’s grave last Thursday and spent some time together there. Maggy read a few poems. She read cards from my sister Charlene and nephew and wife, Harvey and Missy. She read a beautiful poem given to me by Jerelyn Smith’s sister not long ago called The Broken Chain (see below). Tim McCarter, the minister for the Cleveland Church of Christ came to share a message of hope and prayer with us. He spoke at John Robert’s graveside service, so this seemed fitting.

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Maggy on the New Bench

One of the sweet blessings we enjoyed was placing a bench at John Robert’s gravesite. This bench was donated by the Ladies Bible Class of Forsythe Church of Christ  (and maybe some who aren’t in that class).  It was a beautiful act of consideration and compassion. We also hung some windchimes on a branch that stretches over the bench. Our grandchildren Claire and Blake picked those chimes out and they are beautiful.

I returned to Monroe Friday. My Uncle Mickey and Aunt Sissy brought my mom over from Vicksburg, where she had driven a few days prior. It was great to visit with them. Uncle Mickey helped identify some of the plants in my yard, which I appreciated. We also compared notes on our dogs. They have a dachshund as well.

We’re so glad that mom is here and we’re enjoying her presence so much. She and Maggy get along so well. Mom’s brother, Uncle Ray, came Sunday and went to church with us. So we had quite a pew full with Nicole, Blake, Claire, Ray, mom, myself, and Maggy. Mom enjoyed her first LifeGroup experience at the Enlow’s Sunday night.

Billie and Coca Cola Cake
Billie and Coca Cola Cake

If you didn’t notice a few posts back, I mentioned Coca Cola Cake! I happened to mention that recipe in Sunday School. At LifeGroup Billie Teague walked in with that Coca Cola Cake. That was so funny and I tell you it was absolutely delicious!

I want to mention also that we recieved nearly 30 cards of prayers and support in the mail over the week.  Several of those came from a very special lady in Gulfport. In a gift of thoughtfulness, compassion, and love she made at least 20 home made cards, addressed envelopes, stamped them, then gave them to people and asked them to send us an encouragement. These cards were elaborate with ribbons, stamping, appliques and lots of crafty skill. I could not have made them. I am amazed at the love she showed in this act. Thank you so much Sarah … God sure works powerfully through your heart.

We had a number of cards from our dear friends at Central in Pascagoula. There was a precious card from the Youth Group at Orange Grove that many of them signed. It had a picture of the pavilion at Gulf Coast Bible Camp on the front, and on the back was a picture of John Robert leading singing in that pavilion.

So there have been lots of blessings over the past week and I will just have to thank God for all of the joys He showered on us as we mourned our loss. And as I list all of these things (and surely I have not remembered them all), I am also mindful of the hurt being experienced by others. I would guess that many do not have the beautiful church family we have experienced. I would like to be used to help others through this dark journey, even though I do not know how. We will begin an ongoing GriefShare group on June 1st along with Royce and Carol Ogle. More on that later.

I hope you read my post called Cheryl’s Heart. There were no comments, but I understand that. Cheryl and many others are hurting and suffering through these losses. Incredibly just last week two teenagers from Ouachita High School lost their lives. Both of them were killed just as John Robert was, in pedestrian / motor accidents. My heart goes out to the families of Jason Eppinette and De’Varia Sanders. In an adjacent parish an 11 year old boy drowned while trying to save his cousin. These things just keep happening. No matter what else we see all around us, we need God to open our eyes to the broken hearts and mourning people surrounding us. Trying to make it through a day without the one you love is a very specific kind of pain.

So like all of you, we make it through each day looking for God’s work and blessings, and longing for a time when we will no longer say goodbye.

The Broken Chain

We little knew that morning that God

Windchimes At John's Grave
Windchimes At John's Grave

Was going to call your name.
In life we loved you dearly,
In death we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone;
For part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.
You left us peaceful memories,
Your love is still our guide;
And though we can not see you,
You are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken,
And nothing seems the same;
But as God calls us one by one,
The chain will link again.

Thanks for reading,

John

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