There is always more on my heart than words can say, but I find journaling my thoughts or prayers a great exercise & makes a record to view of memories & our history - I invite you to join me if you can relate to authentic life.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Defining Moments of our Story (Introduction)

If you know much of our story, ( by 'our', I mean the Prairie family, including the spouses of Jerry & Audrey's descendants), you know that we have often been told we were living a 'Modern Day Job Story'.
I don't mind being defined, to an extent, by the trials in our lives and I hope and pray that God uses these events in our lives to be an instrument of growth for us, and help to others.
But, as I think about the many, varied trials, I realize that they can almost drown out the beautiful, golden moments that are also part of our story. 

So, I am starting a series called Defining Moments that expresses the moments that have happened in our family that is truly what defines us and shows joy that has come in the morning, as God promises (Ps. 30:5).
I may add some stories that share the trial that preceded the Defining Moment for the sake of explanation, but mainly I want to have a venue for remembering the outstanding moments during our times of sorrow. I want to praise God for the outcome of our trials and the things He has done through them. Those are what define us most.

Testing and trials may always have a part in our definition, and there are many stories of what has been learned through those. This other part should not be overlooked, though, because they are what shows the moments after the refiners fire.  They are what has kept our love for each other strong. They are what shows God's presence in our lives and they are what shows us glimpses of heaven.  They are God's gift to us. They are our true Defining Moments.....

How many brides get to have 5 men give them away on their wedding day? (One of the Defining Moments series)

(This was originally posted on facebook in January)

It was harder than I imagined watching my niece get married today without her dad there. First of all, I missed my brother and all the things I knew for certain he would say or do.  He would be so proud of his daughter, and he would be telling me (and my other brothers) how beautiful his little girl was.  He would have tears when he gave his daughter away. He would be putting his arms around his wife and telling her he can't believe their girl was a bride. He no doubt would have had one of his grandsons in his arms most of the night, proudly showing them off like he did when his kids were little.  :)

But, I also ached for my sister –n- law who didn’t have her husband by her side. I ached for the other family members who were missing their dad, uncle, son & brother. And, I ached for my niece who didn’t get to hear all the pride and love in her dad’s voice, especially when it came time to walk her down the aisle and say he gives her away to her husband to be.

But, something beautiful happened at that moment.
David, Sarah’s older brother, walked her down the aisle, after giving her a kiss on the cheek :). 
When the pastor asked who gives away this woman, David didn't speak  ---
Josh, Sarah’s younger brother from the groomsmen on stage, spoke up and said, “I do”.
Then, Ryan, her cousin/my nephew (Steve's nephew), stood up in the middle of the guests and said “I do”.
Uncle Mark (Steve's brother-n-law/my husband) stood up and said “I do”.
Uncle Tim (Steve's & my brother) stood up and said “I do”,
 and THEN David said “I do”.
Sarah had no idea that was what the men in her life were planning to do, but her tears showed what it meant to her.
As David stepped aside for Sarah to join Tim, her groom, I knew that Steve would have been pleased that his little girl had these amazing men to stand in for him.

ADDENDUM:  Joel, Steve's other living brother and Sarah's uncle missed the wedding due to major surgery. He was able to talk one week after, even though most of his tongue had been reconstructed and speech was unexpected for quite awhile. Within his first hour of trying to talk, which required much effort, he said with tears in his eyes, "I wish I had been able to be there to stand up and say 'I do' along with the other men. I love Sarah".     Because he wasn't there, he made a video, saying just that, to Sarah.  :)  Here's a link to that video:    video for Sarah   

Steve Prairie and small pic of Steve and Mark Prairie together

Mother of the bride and brother of the bride (Jan and David)

I love my niece so much - I can't believe I was living with them when she was born - and now she's married!

Josh, Ryan, Mark, Tim and David -- men who gave Sarah away

Josh and Judah, (Steve's son and grandson)

Mark and Ryan

My handsome brother :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy to Say Goodbye

I am so thankful today for how God closed the door on a certain chapter in my life. I am thrilled to say 'Goodbye' to this experience. I can't even express the lightness in my heart concerning this. The way God worked through this circumstance and has ended it on such a sweet note gives me renewed hope and strength for the other challenges that are still ongoing.
I am so grateful that He picks me up when burdens are crushing, because, even though I have no reason to struggle with trusting Him, I still fail at it.  I am so grateful that He is full of mercy and gives me encouragement when my hope is floundering so I can continue on, singing with words like in the song below.

I'm Still Yours by Kutless
          (link to youtube)

If You washed away my vanity
If You took away my words
If all my world was swept away
Would You be enough for me?
Would my beating heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives and takes away
If You take it all
This life You've given
Still my heart will sing to You
When my life is not what I expected
The plans I made have failed
When there's nothing left to steal me away
Will You be enough for me?
Will my broken heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives
And takes away
If You take it all
This life You've given
Still my heart
Will sing to You

Even if You take it all away
You’ll never let me go
Take it all away
But I still know

That I'm Yours
I'm still Yours

Friday, August 5, 2011

Grown Ups Need Hide-Outs, Too!!!

Why don't adults have forts? I guess I know the answer to that, because adults do have forts, of a sort. For some it's their couch (in front of their t.v.), their boat, their sports game, their computer, their hobbies, or maybe the bar..... there are plenty of ways to 'hide-out' I suppose (some healthier than others).

 But, I  would seriously love a real fort. One that is built high in a tree, in a large field with woods surrounding it, where I can't be found. One that's reminiscent of the hide-outs we or our friends had as kids.  (Just in case my secret hideaway was happened upon by someone else, I suppose I would have a list of rules, you know, for traditions' sake. The sign on the outside of my fort, though, would say, 'No phones allowed! No computers allowed! No negative attitudes allowed!'. I don't have anything against boys or siblings, so I wouldn't have to ban them :) , but with the way I feel sometimes, I would like a huge sign that says 'No Trespassing!')

 I would also seriously long to run away to this fort I have in my vision with a book, camera, rocking chair and little else. I want to watch the beauty of nature, pray, reflect, read and sip strawberry lemonade with no worry of time. I don't want to be interrupted or forced to head back into the battles this life can give until I am ready. I realize I am not a child anymore and that this is not realistic - at least the part about no time constraints - but it sounds so safe and refreshing.

Sometimes this life is just so full of burdens, trials or loss that I am discouraged, weary and want to run. Run away and hide. Run and rest. Run and forget. Hide and cry. Cry out to God.   As I say these words, I realize what I've been forgetting at these times, which is probably so clear to anyone reading this - and that is that I have a hideout already, as a daughter of God.  I'm ashamed to admit what a slow learner I am. Why do I continually neglect to rush to God when life's problems start piling up? I know that I need Him more at these times, but I don't prepare by seeking Him more and hiding myself in Him more, and the result is that I feel like I need to run away. Like I have to step away for a time out so I can breathe again. Don't get me wrong, I am not going to say that God wouldn't be ok with me having a fort, especially if it gave me a chance to spend more time in being still and listening to Him. I am just remembering today that if I was guarding my heart better, I would not have the need to run away. Someday I hope to have my fort, but I hope to use it for joy, refreshment, renewal of my mind and hiding in God. Not hiding away because I've neglected to run to God first, therefore refusing His strength and protection in the midst of stress.

Ps. 119:114  "You are my hiding place and shield."

Psalm 46:1 ESV
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
Psalm 46:10 ESV
"Be still and know that I am God."