Though presently, in the midst of waiting for the next adventure, the transition seems very slow. It’s been said, “the days are long, but the years are short”, particularly in regard to life with young children. The past eight years has seemed more like a hundred in many ways. Army time will do that, I guess, at least that’s my experience.
In the past month, three friends had a parent pass away. This month marks the eight-year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s passing (I didn’t get a chance to meet her). My thoughts on the passing of time have been rolling around in my head for awhile. Adding to the real life circumstances, I’ve been reading Karen Kingsbury’s series on the Baxter family – full of all the real-life drama families face every day, but with a Christian worldview. Every trial and triumph is greeted with prayer and Bible study. I cried with the family as they gave birth to a child and hours later said goodbye. I cried with them as their mother lost the battle with cancer. I felt their overwhelming joy and thanksgiving when the lost returned to the faith. I have several of these books sitting in storage but never read them until my Grandmother let me borrow the “Above the Line” series. Then I was hooked, checking all the others out a series at a time at the local library. The books I have used to belong to my mother-in-law. Living in her house, imagining how she would have doted on Dietrich and Madilynn, the emotions are sometimes overwhelming. All of this to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about the passing of time.
I love to sing. Singing is probably my favorite act of worship. I have this in common with one of the above-mentioned parents of a friend. His family gathered around him in those last hours, singing praises to God, ushering him from this life with our imperfect voices, to the next, where angels rejoice around the Throne of the Almighty. While I waited for news and prayed for my friend’s dad and the family, the words of “Beyond the Land of Parting” rang in my mind.
Beyond this land of parting, losing and leaving,
Far beyond the losses, darkening this,
And far beyond the taking and the bereaving
Lies the summer land of bliss.
Beyond this land of waiting, seeking and sighing,
Far beyond the sorrows, darkening this,
And far beyond the pain and sickness and dying
Lies the summer land of bliss.
Back to the title of the post, the first line of the hymn “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand”. The words that have been rumbling in my head as the days and weeks and months of unemployment drag on, making the daily tasks more difficult. Okay, not all unemployment’s fault, some to do with the ages and stages of the kiddos, some to do with not having our stuff in our own place. I’m typically exhausted by 4:00, yet I try to remember they won’t be this age forever. I work really hard to remember this after the 15th stall tactic at bedtime from Dietrich. I REALLY work at it when Madilynn is screaming for no apparent reason for the third consecutive hour. In these inconsistent times, I’ve prayed more than ever, trusting in the One Who IS always constant. The second verse and chorus of the hymn, in particular, resonate in my soul (not because I’ve been forsaken so much as I am a little isolated and lonely, not being near any friends):
Trust in Him who will not leave you,
Whatsoever years may bring,
If by earthly friends forsaken
Still more closely to Him cling.
Hold to God’s unchanging hand,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand;
Build your hopes on things eternal,
Hold to God’s unchanging hand.
I want to leave this on an upbeat note. I do find comfort in prayer, Bible study, and song. I am learning to savor the cuddles and react more positively to the 25th question I don’t have the answer to. I am learning to just go along with the jibber jabber and be lead across the house or yard because these moments are fleeting. Even still, I hope to be soon experiencing these moments in a place of our own.