Can you remember one of your loneliest times?
Reading my Maxwell Leadership Bible and remembering Tim and me buying it at a 2003 Women’s Leadership Conference at my church stir this story. Tim was there as a deacon. I remember watching him help people that day with such pride and Donna Landes snapping a picture of us sitting together on our special pew. Lonely times often creep inside my heart when I sit on that pew today.
When they do, I remember Paul and think on things that are lovely…like times we worshiped and watched our little boys grow up for God, when we held hands and witnessed them being baptized, when Tim wore bedroom shoes to church when he was so sick from chemo, when friends sat with me after Tim passed away, when James took a seat beside me on that pew as my husband, when all our blended family joined us for worship one Sunday, when James grinned like a possum (he loved that little saying) and stood with other Veterans in our church to be honored, when he put his arm around me one Sunday and whispered, ‘I love my God and I love my wife’! For these precious memories and plentiful blessings, I sit on our pew with unspeakable JOY and everlasting LOVE…even in lonely times!
The setting is serene this October Saturday morning as I write on my daybed with windows open and geese honking. My backyard is alive with signs and sounds of a new season that show God is still in control. Water flows from the fountain my Sunday School class gave in memory of Tim.
The pineapple atop the fountain was broken and water wouldn’t flow when James came into my life. Sitting in this very spot on Saturday mornings writing stories before heading outside to help James, I would watch him meticulously care for our yards. Remembering Tim finding this house and bringing his sons and wife here, I reflect on our first season in this home, I could see Tim and our sons peeling toilet paper from bushes and dogwood trees throughout our backyard. The house had been empty for years before we bought it and endured tons of toilet paper from pranksters having fun. It wasn’t fun getting rid of the remnants of their play. That’s the way sin is; it leaves a mess to be reckoned with if the owner of the home (heart) does not continuously clean (prune) things that can destroy the beauty and blessings God intends for His children to enjoy every day.
Today, water flows freely from the fountain in our garden because James cleaned it out and made the broken pineapple like new again. One Saturday morning, James promised a surprise and kept me in suspense throughout breakfast, mowing the lawn, and putting out pine straw. We worked together and enjoyed seeing the fruit of our labor. He pulled his dirty gloves from his strong hands – that could fix anything and tenderly hold me tight – and told me to close my eyes. When I opened them, he held what I thought was a new pineapple for the top of our fountain. James shyly shared the story of how he took an old milk carton and broken pieces of the original pineapple, poured in some mixture he came up with to mold it, let it sit in the mold until ready to stand on its own, painted it the silvery color, and hid it inside our shed until just the right moment to share it with me.
Looking out my window as I write, the memory of my jumping up and wrapping my arms around his neck warms my heart. I kissed him all over his smiling face, professing my love and appreciation to the man God sent to love and cherish me and almost making him drop his prized pineapple. He placed it atop the fountain with me clapping and singing God’s praises for opening our hearts to love again and for James’s ability to do things with perfection. James beamed with pride as I held his lean body close to mine when water (which had not flowed for years) spewed forth from the pineapple he took time to remold and make in the image it was before being broken.
That morning seems like yesterday as do memories of many times Tim, Cameron, and Clint worked and played in our backyard that looks lonely this morning. Only the sound of water dripping from the three tiers of our fountain, lawn mowers humming in the distance, birds chirping ‘it’s time to head south’, and falling leaves signaling winter is coming keep me company as I write the story God sends for people in lonely, trying times when they feel broken and tempted to give up!
I worked on this story four hours before falling asleep last night. This morning, the story was gone because I failed to save it. Feeling forlorn and lonely at the same time, the enemy pounded with every trick in his dirty, devious book…’why do you keep writing love stories, people don’t read them, look at the bad God sent in your life, you’re alone, writing takes too much time, who cares about you and your stories anyway?’… and I rose up with anger toward the angel who wanted to be God, who was thrown out of Heaven, who knows his time to tempt and torment will soon end, and I spoke words from God’s Word and my heart. “Get behind me Satan; leave me alone – for me and my house will serve the Lord.” God cares about me and all His children, He’s my Best Friend, my Lord; He is the beginning and the end and life with Him at the helm is happy everything…even in lonely times!”
Next week, I will share the rest of the story about how God’s love lifts you and me from lonely, painful, places and brings goodness from our Gethsemanes!
Becky Spell Vann is the owner and operator of Tim’s Gift and The Learning Station.