Peace and love to you all.
Though we are having a bit of a tough day with the first Easter minus my dad, we have many, many fond memories to look back on to fill the day with color. Specifically, hunting Easter eggs.
For decades - and I mean that literally - Mom and Dad would 'contact the Easter Bunny' after church as my brother and I were forced to stay downstairs and watch TV as the bunny worked his magic. At a certain point, we would be called upstairs and view what had transpired. First, we saw our Easter baskets, stuffed with chocolate and things of that nature. They were the focal point. Then, though, we surveyed the upstairs rooms and saw splashes of color dotting many surfaces. Plastic Easter eggs, loaded with little treats as well, had taken over the house. My brother and I were bidden to divide the house in half (in order to avoid fighting...it was a necessary precaution) and begin tossing what eggs we found into a plastic bag we carried. From there, the search was on. Eggs would be behind pillows on the couch, on top of paintings or doorframes, jammed into plants or crocks, hidden behind toys or antiques, or just generally obscured from view. We hunted for as long as we could, spurred on by Dad's constant taunting of 'I can see three eggs from here' or 'Are you sure you have them all?'. Eventually, we called it good, went to the table, and began to unload our bounties. Jellybeans and M&Ms and Reese's Cups and malted milk eggs galore filled our plastic bags with treasure to last...well, theoretically days, but let's be honest, hours at best.
While that was that, by and large, there was always the second part of the hunt. Weeks, even months later, we could and did come across an errant egg that had been passed over in our searches, often in places that realistically did not provide a fair shot at finding them. We would laugh and celebrate our increased victories, but always sat with the knowledge that there still could be more out there.
Perhaps that's something we can take away from the day. That even if you feel that you have found God, that you have created a place in your life that perfectly fits what you believe your faith to be...maybe there is always more out there to find. Maybe there is always more that God wants from you. Maybe all it takes is time to find it. Like a Hershey's Kiss found in July, maybe you will find renewed faith or purpose at a time where you don't expect it. Wouldn't that be a treat?
May you all have a wonderful Easter full of love and family and the knowledge that Jesus Christ has risen again, and he has washed away our sins again and again through his sacrifice of blood and redemption!
I'll leave you today with a wonderful verse:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” — John 11:25-26
Peace and love to you all.
I'm going to be upfront and honest with you, as I feel that is what you all deserve. We are not doing particularly well. We're all tired. We're all ground down. We all feel like we're in a rut. It has been a month already since Dad's passing, but it has felt like a decade. The weather has not helped and will continue to not help as more dang snow is scheduled for this week. We're all simply over it all.
The way it feels to me is like we are on a boat that has slipped the line and is drifting off into the great unknown. Worse, it feels as if nobody has noticed that we are floating away, which is not a fair assessment. We have and continue to be blessed by love and support from everyone, but you have your own lives too! You have your own work and own families and own daily grind to get through and need to focus on that first. All the same, it feels like we are simply drifting without a way to go.
It's hard. It is. When the shock of the moment and the speed of the following necessities have worn off, you feel the knowledge of what reality is sink in finally. It's like a hole inside you, but the hole has ragged edges, so every time you try to do something, one of the edges catches and hurts. Maybe it's walking into the office and seeing the Legos he was so proud of sitting on the desk. Maybe it's looking into the kitchen nook and knowing there aren't going to be puzzles there for a while, if ever again. Little things. Little memories. They catch and hurt and hurt and hurt.
I don't mean to sound melodramatic. We find joy in our lives too. Every night, we talk about what was good about the day and we always, always find something, even if it's little. We have lots of hugs and jokes and we heal bit by bit. We just...know that what is missing will always be missing. It will never not be missing again. And that stings in a way that is not possible to describe.
In moments like this, Dad would also say 'let go and let God' and we are trying to abide by that. We are remaining faithful and praying for healing and comfort. It is slow-going, but we remain steadfast in our belief that God will get us through it, even if there's anger and questioning. We will endure with God on our side. Even if it feels like we're adrift.
I'll leave you today with an appropriate Psalm.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.
Peace and love to you all.
There's not a ton going on right now, to be honest. There are tough days and tough nights and calm days and nights as well. Different things trigger different memories and thoughts and we are just taking them as they come. I know that updates have become sparser and that will get better, I promise. It's just...we're tired. All of us. Mentally, physically, emotionally. Even now, we're tired.
Tired and stuck. We want to move forward. We're trying to move forward. And there are times where we feel like we are, but it's kind of like trying to get a car moving after it's been stuck in mud (or deep snow). You find little moments of success but, overall, you're where you have been.
That feeling reminds me of a story. When my brother and I were little and still living in Fargo (the first time), our family took a trip across the state to Medora. If you don't know what that is, let me explain. It's a cute little tourist trap in western North Dakota with a huge Wild West musical and Teddy Roosevelt exhibits and everything. It's cheesy but I remember the trip fondly. Mostly.
See, because my brother and I were little, we needed to use the restroom frequently and found ourselves needing to avail ourselves of the facilities at a nearby gas station. It was not a high-quality station, to say the least, and the room was small and cramped but ultimately functional. We did our business and went to leave. Here's where we made a mistake. We had been taught practically since we were able to understand directions to shut off the light as you leave a room. (Note: this lesson has been soundly lost in our older age).
We did so and tried to open the door. It did not open. We tried again. No luck. A few more attempts and that creeping, crawling dread settled in our tiny stomachs. We were stuck. Not only that, we were stuck in a pitch-black room with no way to know where the light switch was. That was when panic ensued.
We started screaming and crying and banging on the door, hoping that someone would hear us. It felt like an eternity before we felt the door shift and get yanked open with tremendous force. We rushed out and into our parents' arms as they tried to calm us down. It was miserable and terrifying but a quick trip to the nearby dinosaur museum and a little plastic velociraptor later, I was right as rain.
That feeling of being trapped, stuck, helpless, and in the dark...that's where we are now. We are stuck in that room, banging on the door, crying out for God to help us. And He is coming. The door is shifting just a little. We won't be free and in His arms quite yet, but we're getting there. We have those moments of hope and light peering into the darkness to keep us going. We have to be patient, something that is not a strength of my family. But we know and continue to know that God will open that door and embrace us again.
I'll leave you with a saying that spoke to me.
I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.