It has been a rough week with having everything we own in the first floor of our house packed up and moved into storage and our family moving into a hotel for an unknown length of time. As we were heading to the hotel on Wednesday for our first night there, I got a call from my Dad. He told me that my Aunt Elaine had passed away earlier in the day. I was shocked and saddened.
And I felt guilty as those regrets of "Why didn't we go visit them more often" popped into my head. It is times like these that we realize just how important family is and how we are only blessed to share their lives for a short time on this Earth before they are called back to be with their Heavenly Father.
I have a special place in my heart for Aunt Elaine and Uncle Broox for helping me find Christ in my life. I have vague memories of going to Broadmoor Baptist Church when I was little but at some point we stopped going. I didn't really grow up with any sort of a spiritual relationship. We probably saw Aunt Elaine and Uncle Broox about once a year and every time we visited with them they would talk to me about Jesus and encourage me to read my Bible and go to church. They gave me a little white Bible which I did read and I still have that little Bible today.
After I grew up and moved out of my parents' house, Stuart and I would still get to visit with Aunt Elaine and Uncle Broox occasionally and they still continued to talk to us about Jesus. Stuart was already a Christian but I never heard him pray or talk about going to church and I never saw him read the Bible. I wanted to believe but just reading the Bible wasn't enough for me. I felt like I had my life together and I was doing just fine. I didn't really think I needed "the crutch" of a higher power in my life.
But my aunt and uncle never gave up on me. Every time I saw them they let me know that He was there for me when I was ready. Over the years I found myself talking to them more when they would bring up the subject and really listening to what they had to say instead of just nodding and hoping to change the subject.
Then one day as I was rocking my newborn baby boy in my arms, I felt so humbled and so blessed that I prayed. For the first time in forever, I prayed. I prayed a prayer of gratefulness and I prayed a prayer for guidance in raising the little angel in my arms and for building our little family to be followers of Christ. I felt totally in awe of His power and grace and I could so clearly see how He had been there in my life over the years even when I didn't acknowledge Him at all. I realized that I didn't have my life together at all. I just struggled a lot and stubbornly fought battles that He had already won for me because of my own prideful ignorance. It was an amazing moment that I will never forget. After that we started going to church and reading the Bible again. I accept Jesus as my Savior and was baptized in 2009. We are a Christ-following family and we are raising our children to know the Lord and walk in His path. I am forever grateful that my aunt and uncle kept planting the seeds so that when I was actually ready I would be able to hear His still small voice.
Rachel had a dress rehearsal for her dance recital on the day of my aunt's funeral. With the stress of the flood and living in a hotel, I hated to add stress to her by making her perform in the recital after missing the dress rehearsal. I was going to drive the few hours to the funeral myself but we prayed about it and we talked with each other as well as with Rachel's dance teacher and decided that we needed to go to the funeral as a family.
So we packed up the van and headed to Louisiana. Along the way, the kids made up the most amazing song! It really touched my heart to hear them worshiping in their own fun way. I just had to catch this video of them (if you are reading this in email you will have to click through to the actual blog post to be able to view the video):
We made it over just fine and enjoyed some time visiting with my family and their friends and loved ones. There was food and fellowship and lots of love for my Aunt Elaine.
We changed into our fancy clothes and headed to the funeral. I had not packed anything fancy for the kids when we packed up our suitcases to move to the hotel. However, we were blessed that a friend of mine had just offered two dresses that she was passing down and I still had them in the van with us. Rachel was excited about them both and picked the most frilly one to wear to the funeral. She also wore her sunglasses and Great Wolf Lodge wolf ears on the way but we did make her leave those in the car once we arrived at the funeral home.
The service at the funeral home was sweet. Although Rachel had only met Aunt Elaine once before she started crying during the service. I tried to comfort her but she just sobbed more so fortunately the family section was close to a quiet room so we scooted out of the pew quietly and I just held her in my arms for a while until she calmed down. She is such a sensitive little girl. She didn't want to talk much but just kept saying that she felt so sad and that her body was just making her cry. It was really touching.
After the funeral we headed over to their church for more good food and fellowship.
Both of the kids really liked spending time with my cousin Elizabeth. It really meant a lot to me to see them spending time with family members that they don't get to see very often.
Of course, I had to have lots of pictures of everyone and I think my Dad was all done at this point. He was worried that we were making the round trip there and back home all in one day and he just kept saying that it was getting late and we needed to get back on the road before it got dark. Once a daddy, always a daddy even when the kid is grown and on their own.
I will miss my Aunt Elaine greatly but her memory and love will remain with me forever.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and they staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head wiht oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.