As I wrote the first line of this paragraph and metioned mercy and grace, I was just then reminded of a funny story. Troy and I first took and then taught the popular Christian parenting classes, "Growing Kids God's Way". One of the overlying goals is to encourage parents towards Biblical parenting. Reproducing God's Word and His behavior towards us in the way we raise our children. As Troy and I grew in our relationship with the Lord we became more and more aware of His gift of grace and mercy when we truly deserved punishment or consequences from our sin. So we achieved to pass that same principle along to disciplining our kids. There would be times we would tell them we would extend grace and mercy to them and they would not receive the spanking, etc.. One day when Boston was maybe 2 or 3 I went in to spank him for something or another and he pleaded with me to "put the praise and glory on him". I had no idea what he was talking about. Then I realized he exchanged praise and glory for grace and mercy! Of course I couldn't stop giggling and at that point just couldn't spank the poor kid.
I believe only a fellow soujouner in loss can truly understand this word picture. After Troy died, I felt like I opened my planner and everything EVERYTHING was erased. Everything from my plans for the holidays that year to my plans of Troy's big return from the desert to who would now walk Bella down the aisle at her wedding someday vanished. I had already begun mentally planning Troy's welcome home from Iraq reception at the airport full of family and friends. The kids would be holding a "Welcome Home Daddy" sign covered with their little handprints. I had all but bought the craft paint. We had just finished cabin plans for our land in Ruidoso, NM. Blank now. We were moving to Kansas that summer and I was already finding us a house on base and looking forward to some much-needed family time and exploring St. Louis and Kansas City. I was planning my after-holidays starvation diet so that I would have three weeks to get skinny and sexy for Troy's return. I was going to show him I had lost some of that baby fat I had before he left. He was going to be really glad to see the new me! Now the new me was a drooping widow looking down at my life's empty calendar, into my children's sorrowful faces and up at my God who had just erased it all. If I could paint a portrait it would be of this picture. But instead of God holding an eraser He would be holding His plans for me in one hand and reaching out to me with the other, sun rays beaming from behind Him. There would be a few rays peeking down through the thick dark clouds over my head. The scripture below the painting would read;
It is the nature of GOD'S grace to fill the spaces. As I sat in church this weekend with both my precious friends, Tami and Amy who were in town, I remembered God's grace upon me even before I met Jim. These two women were the most actively, daily involved in caring for me and the kids after Troy died. They were not Troy nor are they Jim. They did not replace a husband or a father but they were pure goodness, pure love to us. Unequivacably the merciful hand of God making His very real presence known to me in those months while still preparing His next plan of putting Jim in my life. He's a busy God. He does this for everyone! He is behind the scenes working working for His glory and our benefit. I was angry with Him for a long time. Thinking Him cruel. Thinking Him neglectful and uncaring and uninvolved. Then I read a book that made a powerful impact on my thinking at that time. The book is titled "Second Guessing God" by Brian Jones. One particular chapter gave me more hope than all the books I had read prior. Here is the jest of it and I do paraphrase his words:
"Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen."
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."