Posted in From Al & Libbie, Updates at 6:55 am by Libbie

Eowyn is turning in one of her term papers today! Hallelujah!


Hello again at last

Posted in From Al & Libbie, Reflections, Updates at 2:00 pm by Libbie

I haven’t written anything here for more than a month, although I have wanted to at different times and have frequently felt badly that there has been such a long silence. This afternoon I have a little time, so I’ll write as much as I have time to.

Where to start?

It has been a month of seeing the Lord be faithful and good to all of us and of knowing his nearness. It has been a month of missing Al. It has been a month of walking one day at a time and of handling whatever comes at us with faith that the Lord will work everything out. It has been a month full of little, personalized blessings straight from God embedded in our days to remind us of his love and care. It has been a month of alternate laughter and tears, often intermixed, and of being thankful for each other and for the many people around us who love us and hold us up—in prayer and otherwise.

We are discovering the obvious truth that there is no short cut through grief, no “efficient” was to grieve that minimizes its pain, and that if there is a temporary way “around” it, taking that path is unwise and only postpones having to eventually, inevitably deal with the pain. You just have to walk through it. So we are doing that, one day at a time. And the Lord is walking with us.

There have been some minor logistical bumps along the road, sometimes clustered in such ridiculous concentration that it becomes comical, but it has been good for me to have to deal with them. It forces me to (a) trust God that he will sort out the snarls, presumably each one before it compounds the next, (b) find out that I can in fact organize and handle the financial/business/administrative details of life that have never been not my strong suit, even when they are out-of-the-ordinary and a bit complicated, and (c) know that we have a myriad of friends with an array of skills who can help me out if I need it. There is no doubt that I am growing stronger in the midst of this, which is a good thing. (Lest you worry, Al had good life insurance, and Westminster has been very generous as well. Even after Al is gone, he is providing for us!)

We drove to Florida the week before Easter to be with Al’s family, and it was great to see them, as always. Alden got to go deep sea fishing with his granddad, he and Eowyn got to spend time with their cousins who are roughly their ages, and we got to see two of Al’s siblings and their families, including a great-niece who is a year and a half old and cute as a button.

I think we all wondered whether it would be hard or just odd to be there without Al. There were a few times that we were acutely aware of Al’s absence, like when we took a picture of the whole family as Al always insisted that we do. [Side note: actually, taking pictures and movies now is consistently a pinch of grief for me. That was so important to Al, and he did it so incessantly that one time when the kids’ friends came and stayed with us they commented that it was like living on “Spycam”! So now when I take pictures I instinctively do it for Al, momentarily thinking that it will be fun to take them home and show them to him. But then I remember that he’s not here to see them, and then I have to re-think why I’m taking them—for posterity, of course, as he always did.] But mostly it was just good to be there with family.

The drive, while long, was good too. Honestly, we really like road trips. They are a good time to be together without other things interrupting or competing. Everybody brings some favorite music and we get some interesting mysteries on CD to listen to, and it’s just fun to be off on an adventure together. Plus, this time around Eowyn had her driver’s permit, and all the states between here and Florida except South Carolina said she could drive in them, so she got in about 20 hours of highway driving experience, which she was very excited about. I have to say, she’s pretty competent now at the whole business of on-ramps, changing lanes, etc.

The weekend before we went to Florida our daughter-in-law Lauren’s family invited us to to stay with them in Vermont and use some passes they had to ski at Killington. We usually ski once a year in the Poconos, but I had always hoped that someday Eowyn and Alden could ski together with Alasdair (who LOVES to ski) and maybe someday they would even get to ski in New England. Both dreams came true at the same time. What fun! That’s what I mean by the Lord placing personalized, tailor-made blessings in our days. It was a great time with Lauren’s family (who are delightful people that we love) as well, and we were able to stop and see my parents on the way home, which was a special treat. So, we skied on 3 inches of fresh powder one Sunday and swam in the Florida warmth the next. What a life full of blessings!

Eowyn is still digging out of make-up work. Only the two term papers are left, and she’s making progress on them. Last weekend she spent 10 or 12 hours on Saturday on one of them and can see the end of that one in sight. Hallelujah! Hopefully in the next several weeks she’ll finish them both and be free of that weight. We can’t wait!! It was definitely a thorn in her side (and her cousin’s) that she had to spend parts of several days in Florida working on schoolwork, and she was becoming a little bitter as well as discouraged. But when that state of heart reached a crisis the following week, Alasdair was an invaluable help in talking things through with her and helping her bring her heart issues to the Lord for forgiveness and healing. His helping her was such an incredible encouragement to me and a perfect answer to prayer. Again, the Lord’s individualized care for us was so precious to see.

This weekend both Eowyn and Alden are participating in a 30 Hour Famine organized by World Vision to raise money for and awareness of kids around the world who are literally starving. Alden got fired up to raise funds for the famine and has been tireless at it. I think he ended up raising over $500! By tonight all the youth group will be very hungry and tired, but it’s a wonderful project that both Eowyn and Alden believe in very strongly.

Alden has been enjoying winter and spring soccer too. Last week he scored 4 goals in their indoor game (which is unusual for him), one of them a header, and last night he had a really pretty goal too. He is starting to feel more comfortable, I think, although he still occasionally has down days when he doesn’t want to go to school or anywhere. This summer he has the opportunity to go to Spain with a friend and his family, which should be very exciting. Eowyn will be going to Guatemala with Food for the Hungry, which she’s pumped about too.

There are just a couple weeks left of the term at Westminster. It will be nice to have that behind me. The course I am taking and the one I’m auditing have been great, though. In one, the professor reminded us that when Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…?” he was asking the wrong question. The real question was “Who was God?” And the answer was that he was the I AM, the creator of heaven and earth, the self-sufficient, independent God who had all the power in the universe, and also “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” who committed himself to his people and made and kept covenant promises to them. If THAT God was with Moses, he could do anything that God called him to do. That has been good for us to remember on days when things seem hard, or discouraging, or overwhelming. All he asks us to do is walk with him, and if we’ll trust him in that, we cannot fail.

Another time the professor was talking about the Trinity, and the two natures of Christ—human and divine—and other things we can’t quite wrap our finite minds around. Even in heaven we probably won’t fully be able to understand how those mysteries work, but I assume they will at least be clearer. I was musing about what it will be like to actually see God on his throne, to look at Jesus close-up, human yet exalted and glorified… And then I realized that Al is already doing that. He always loved things that were big enough and deep enough that you couldn’t exhaust your exploration of them, so I know he must be endlessly delighted in standing in God’s presence and just taking in his glory.

Anyway, I find that an awareness of Al’s absence is always there in the background of my mind, even when I’m not specifically thinking about it. It’s sort of like a large piece of scenery on a stage where you’re acting. You might not always be looking at it, or interacting with it, but it’s always there, giving a certain cast to the scene. The only time I completely forgot about Al’s death was when we were skiing (probably both because it was so much fun and because I’m not a great skier, so I have to pay attention to what I’m doing!). I was surprised at one point to realize that I hadn’t thought about Al in a couple of hours.

What I pray is that in the same way that a constant awareness of Al not being here anymore stands in my consciousness, alternately more and less forcibly, an awareness of God’s love, and care, and majesty, and holiness, and kingdom purposes for this world will be constantly present in my mind and heart. I want that to be THE piece of scenery that gives the definitive cast to the stage I live my life on and that colors everything I do, and say and think as I go through any given day.

Well, I’ve run out of time. I hope this finds you well and enjoying the blessings that flow from the empty tomb. Thanks for checking in on us. Sorry it took me so long to get something posted here.