Ginger and I have made it to the fall and every day we fall more in love and grow closer as a family. It was a crazy summer and looking back I wonder if we realized all we had done? We spent 5 months traveling back and forth between Phoenix and San Antonio, followed by the wedding in May, the drive to San Antonio, buying our home. I moved off base and Ginger moved from Phoenix. We unpacked and set up the house in 3 weeks (no small feat) then sent Boston and Greyson to camp. I took Nic and Anthony to Alaska. We planned and set up a second wedding in San Antonio, went on a honeymoon (this was the easiest part), started the kids in a new school, searched for a church home, oh and did I mention we had construction at the house from May till September? Amidst all this. life continues to become "ours" and God has done some amazing miracles right before our eyes. Some of them have come in the form of what is missing as much as what we have been given.
As Ginger and I laid in each other’s arms watching the movie, "Dan in,Real Life", about a man who lost his wife and meets someone else and remarries. (Not the comedy I thought it was going to be, but Ginger had warned me when we were dating to not watch it alone...good advice.) But it made me think of all I have been spared of. All the struggles of being a single Dad in the Air Force. Who would have been there to help with Anthony when I travelled? The nights of utter loneliness? The hopelessness? The thought of trying to "Find" someone else. Dating!! I had only dated once and that was Andrea 27 years ago. It would have been daunting and overwhelming and my life would be void of joy as I lived an isolated life in San Antonio. As I sat there seeing God's hand in my life by what did not happen I could not help but look at Ginger and see God's provision in what I did have. I held Ginger, ran my finger though her hair and she looked up at me with the loving eyes and smiled. I was home, I was complete and I realized I am a blessed man. It made me realize God had blessed me in many ways I had not usually thought about. It was only when I thought of the things that had not happened or I did not face that I began to see God's hand in the things I had been spared from.
As I continue to reflect on the events of the past year I see the obvious tragedies and the obvious blessings in our lives. But when I look a little deeper I see the absence of events as blessings too. We have become a family in a way that could only be the result of God's hand and the answer to countless prayers prayed for all of us. Prayers that may have been prayed over the last 2-4 years but are being answered now. It is as if we are reaping what so many have sowed. Thank you all who have prayed for this family. I love being the father of a big family. Don't get me wrong it is hard work and 6 kids keeps you busy, but there are times like last night that make it all worth it. Ginger and I were in out room with the twins watching "The Wizard of Oz." Ginger with Aspen in her lap and Annalise lying on the sofa with me resting her head on my arm. There was a peace in our home and I don't just mean quietness, but a spiritual peace.
It hit me as I held Annalise in my arms and felt her comforted in me. We were a family. I was telling a good friend earlier this week how humbling it is to hear the girls holler "Daddy" when I walk in the door. There is not a day or a time I hear that that I don't think of Troy; those were supposed to be his words. It was to be his joy in hearing those girls and seeing them run to him. I think of it when I look into Ginger's eyes and feel the depth of love I thought I would never experience again in my life. But all this keeps me humble knowing I am standing in for not just another man, but a great dad, father and husband. But God's plan did not stop there. Our family is far more than the 9 of us. His plan included a bigger concept of family.
Today as I drove Boston to his soccer game at 7:15 am! We talked about Troy and Andrea and the amazing people they were. But then we talked about the miracle that Troy's and Andrea's families are both from Wichita Falls. That also combined with Ginger's parents and Andrea and I all moving to Texas in the same year. What are the odds we would all be so close at that exact time? I believe the odds were 100% because it was God's plan. Because of these seemingly small events, our families are even more intertwined. It allows us to drive home for Thanksgiving and be with Troy's family on the two year anniversary of his death, (which happens to be Thanksgiving Day.) It allows Ginger's Mom and Dad to visit every month to help us with the kids. But most of all it allows grandparents to continue to be an integral part of the kids life. It allows for us all to be an even bigger family. God took what appeared to be the shattering of families and put the pieces together in an even more beautiful mosaic then any of us could have ever have imagined. Isn't it God's way to reveal Himself in what man sees as disaster? Like I told Boston today, God did not leave us even when it seemed He had. He can't leave us. It is not His nature or His character and He cannot change. He seeks us always and His words are true; He will never leave us or forsake us.
I have no idea what any of you are struggling with today, but I know we all have issues we struggle with. My lesson from this past week is first don't forget to stop and see what God is protecting us from. Sometimes it is hard to see or understand what God does for us in the events that never happen, but they can be blessings just as much as anything you receive. Then maybe, like it did for me, it will allow you to reflect on the many things God has given you. And don't forget to look in the smallest of places, like a little girl resting in your arms, a loving look from your wife, or just that moment of peace in your house in an otherwise chaotic day.