Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In Loving Memory Of Tom

,Today is June 6th, 2012 and our Tom's birthday.  It's been a year now since we lost him in the April 27th tornado, and we want to honor him on this day.  Also, we wish to thank God for His comfort and for what He has done and is doing in our lives.  We're including some pictures of what life looks like for us now and of what's been going on in our lives of late.  The above picture is of a couple of the boys and their pony and cart.  They hitch him up early every morning and load the wagon with feed and such for the animals they are responsible to feed.  I'm so very thankful for the example of hard work their father set before them in word and by example and very proud of them for the hard work they're doing here on the farm and ALSO for how they've been teaching their six year old brother to join them in getting the job done and of taking it seriously!  They are quite a team:)
This fella has a very tender heart and has a love for drawing, just as his father did.  He's been drawing pictures of buildings and animals on the farm and of people.  
She has such a love for animals and sweetens our lives with her laughter, stories, and the many and frequent bouquets of wildflowers she brings into our home.  She's also becoming quite the cook and an expert southern cornbread maker and farm girl.
Everyone works in the gardens, but I believe Abi loves it most.  She can often be seen working in and planning the gardens while Bethany loves planning the fruit orchard.  They've especially missed their dad during gardening season as he so loved planting and tending things and spent many a happy hour with the family there.
Jordan cut hay this month with Jim and Jack, his Percheron horses.  Everyone loaded the loose hay onto the hay wagon with pitch forks and the younger children stomped on it in order to press it down.  The wagon is being pulled by Tom's truck.  The truck was totaled in the tornado as were all our vehicles and was scheduled to be picked up by the scrap yard. Dear friends of ours asked if they could try and crank it.  They tried.  It cranked.  They drove off with it.  We had no idea what they were doing, but we assumed they'd installed new glass and maybe replaced some plugs and maybe beat out a few of the dents.  We expected it to look pretty bad but thought it would be wonderful to have to be used as a beat up farm truck, and the vehicle was special to us simply because it had been Toms. Instead, approximately nine months later, we were presented with the most beautifully restored truck you have EVER seen. A team of WONDERFUL volunteers made it look better than it did the day Tom purchased it at an auction:)
This is just part of our crew.  Other family members and visiting friends were busy preparing food and drink for the hungry.
They are storing the hay loose.
This is a picture of the hay being cut with a horse drawn hay mower by my oldest son.  I found myself in tears last Sunday as I observed him with his youngest brother so contentedly sitting on his lap during church.  Tom was so often seen with a little one at his side or sitting on his lap, and I can't tell you how thankful I am as I see my older children *being there* for their younger siblings.
There's always lots of weeding to be done in the garden and so many spiritual lessons to be learned.  After all, our lives and attitudes require frequent *weeding* as well, and isn't the Master a merciful and tender *Gardener* of our souls?
Libby took a break from loading hay and used creek water to give Little Man a new hair style. :)
The girls are back to making weekly batches of butter from all the milk we're getting, and we are grateful to be settled again and back to some of our old routines.
Found a little snapping turtle and wasn't sure how to hold him:)  He brought him in to show everyone and then let him go.
Tom's sister (my sister-in-law) and brother-in-law came for their first visit and to see for themselves that we are settled in a good place.  We had a wonderful visit and were very happy to see them!  They were actually here on the date of mine and Tom's wedding anniversary, and I was very happy to be busy on that special day and in such good company:)
My seventeen year old son made the trunk in the above picture as a gift for me on Mother's Day and one of my daughters painted it a distressed white.  I LOVE it and was so surprised!  Tom loved making furniture for our home as a hobby, and I didn't realize how much Jacob and others had learned from him.:)  Do you find yourself knowing less about where you're going when riding as a passenger in a vehicle rather than when you're doing the driving?  Well, when building furniture, Tom was usually the *driver* and the children assisted him and were more like *passengers* and pupils.  They made smaller pieces on their own and with his assistance, but never larger pieces of furniture.  Now they are showing themselves to be *drivers* and I'm realizing that they were really paying attention to their teacher:)

Life without Tom this past year has certainly been different for us, and we miss him greatly.  My friend Darby describes this past year as a time of bittersweet memories that come with the realization that it has been a year of difficulties and trials mixed with God's abundant blessings, and a year of lives changed in a multitude of ways.  She expresses her thoughts beautifully and is more articulate than I can ever hope to be.  I'd like to quote her.  "I have thought a lot about the Passover and how it relates to April 27th (the day of the tornado).  Remember that part of the Passover Seder when you taste the horseradish-the burning that brings tears, and choking?  The bitter taste that lingers in your mouth after the pain diminishes?  Sometimes, thinking about the tornado and all that the Lord brought about through that-losing Tom, starting over, y'all moving, changes, stresses, etc.  It was painful and brought-still brings-tears, and for a short time may even leave a bitter taste in our mouths, (not bitterness as a character quality, but bitterness of experience).  But the next step is to taste the horseradish with a little bit of Charoseth (the sweetened apples and cinnamon mixture).  You can still tell the horseradish is there, but the bitter taste and the tear producing root is overpowered by the sweetness of the apple mixture.  The Charoseth to the Jews represents the "hope" of freedom.  For us, it represents our hope in Christ, our final deliverance from the bondage of sin, and the resurrection of our bodies.  In the same way, looking back to April 27th, to me, is like the horseradish-it brings tears and sadness.  But remembering the hope that we all have in Christ and how we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good over this past year.  Well, that is like the Charoseth apple mixture that sweetens our experience and eliminates the bitter taste.  Our hope is in Christ, our taking refuge in Him, our tasting and seeing that He is good-enables us to look back with praise for His mighty working in all our lives".

As the days have worn on and the weeks have turned into months, we've found comfort.  First of all from the Lord and His people.  But also from the awareness that our God is sovereign and in control and that Tom lived the exact number of days ordained for him.  Psalm 139:16 says,  "In your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me".

My family and I are the recipients of a Godly legacy which is a wonderful gift to be treasured and passed on.  While our Tom is now with the Lord and we rejoice in that, we want to be mindful of the fact that those who've gone before us can still teach-even from the grave. As a mother, I want to keep alive his memory in the hearts and minds of our children.  Especially the younger ones.  The legacy he left of serving the Lord.  Not perfectly.  None of us can.  But with gladness and from a heart very grateful to God for His amazing grace in forgiving him.  A prodigal son.  His living and being an example of laying down his life for his wife and children.  Not just on the day of the storm, but as a way of life.  His transparency in sharing his struggles and weaknesses with his family and his ability to communicate to us that we are a team.  Not in competition with one another.  Pilgrims traveling to the celestial city together and in need of the encouragement and loyalty and prayers of one another.  Those are memories I want to keep alive.

I recently read Proverbs 31 and verse 12 stood out to me.  It says, "She does him good and not evil ALL the days of HER life."  It doesn't say that she does him good and not evil all the days of HIS life, but all the days of HER life.  My life isn't over yet, and I want to be loyal to the memory of my husband and to be used of the Lord in continuing the passing on of a Godly heritage and legacy, just as Tom would have wanted.  My children's desire is the same, and we covet your prayers.

I'd also like to add, as I know many of you ladies are married and have children, that I hope you will enjoy the moments.  We all experience, at some point, a final parting.  But when the time does come, our God is a faithful husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless.  I share my concerns with Him, and He always listens, and He never even falls asleep from exhaustion.:)  He alone is worthy of our praise, and He alone can enable us to leave a God honoring legacy, and He alone is ENOUGH to fill the longing of our souls.  He is ENOUGH!  Amen!

In honor and in memory of Tom.

Blessings from the family...