No-Good-Rotten Anniversaries

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by Heather Spring

There are good anniversaries and ones that feel… ummm… well, not so good.

Holly and I wanted to write a little something for those that might be in the same boat as we—the “man-that-day-really-stinks boat.” We said goodbye to James and Scott on August 1, 2000. And ever since, that day hasn’t been the same. We’ve traveled to many a place, sharing our story, and we’ve met many others that have their own day—those no-good-rotten days that linger on the calendar, staring us in the face, begging us to crumble under the pain they symbolize.

We’re sharing this post on our “day” in hopes that we can speak a bit about what we’ve learned over the past 13 years regarding difficult anniversaries. Wow, I need to pause for a moment…
Has it really been 13 years?
God is good.

Four years ago, on this particular day, I was nine months prego, and had this amazing moment with God. My no-good-rotten day had actually snuck up on me. That was a first for me! On top of that, some of my good friends were throwing me a baby shower to celebrate Zachariah’s soon arrival. I had agreed to this?! What was I thinking? (a.k.a. baby brain) This all occurred to me on my fifth trip to the bathroom that night. (a.k.a. baby kicking bladder) So all of a sudden I sat there, wide-eyed, in shock that I had not been dreading the day. In fact, I was planning to celebrate on this day! Woah! Talk about God’s redemption at work. As my head pressed against my pillow, in the wee hours of an August 1st morning, I started running through my usual pattern of “anniversary” thought. I recalled what I had done that morning in 2000. I cringed again about the argument James and I had before he left the house. I remembered watching the clock for his return so that I could apologize. I thought about how I went to bed that night not knowing that he was already holding the hand of Jesus… his faith had been made sight. I recalled the waiting, the watching, the bargaining with God, and the “whys.” I remembered the moment when our worst fears were made reality as over 24 hours later we received the news that there had been an accident.

Sigh. Deep breath.

All these memories were running through my mind on that morning four years ago as I curled up underneath my covers. All this remembering created a very odd feeling in me, to be honest. I sat there going through the fatal turn of events, just like I always seemed to do on that day, yet at the same time, my heart’s voice whispered, “Lord, is it okay that I’m remembering?” As quickly as I had uttered those words, another memory transported me to my past. I was on a hillside. I could almost feel the stillness of that dark night as I stood questioning God. Etched into my being, alone before the King of Kings, I came to understand comfort that is not of this world. A broken and desperate widow experienced God’s nearness that proved He indeed loved this seemingly insignificant human being.  He spoke over my life in my darkest hours. Grace upon grace.

“God, I’m remembering… is that okay?” You see, I was conflicted. I almost felt guilty about reminiscing. A few inches to my right was my husband Dallas. I could hear him inhaling and exhaling. I couldn’t be more thankful for the gift God had given me in his companionship. And then to my left was a monitor that hummed with sounds from my son Noah’s room.

“Lord, You have never left my side. Your plans are completely beyond my wildest imaginations!” I said, as I ran my hand back and forth on my round abdomen that cradled Zachariah. “Lord, Is it okay that I’m remembering?” Sometimes you can’t help but sound like a broken record.

In God-fashion, at the perfect moment, He answered my question with a question. (Another one of His specialties.) “What does the name Zachariah mean?”

I was silenced and awed as I recalled my many Google searches, desperate to choose the perfect name for our little boy. I responded, “Zachariah means God remembers.”

GOD REMEMBERS!
GOD remembers!
God REMEMBERS!

God spoke into my August 1sts and wanted me to know that not only should I remember; but I need to understand that He remembers. He remembers those moments even clearer than I do. As I close my eyes and mentally walk the roads of my past, I dare not miss the moments He carried me… us. His otherness still leaves me speechless. And as I linger on each moment in time, He desperately wants me to understand that His love for me has never failed, that He is enough for ANYTHING that I would and will ever walk through, and that He is a God that doesn’t forget. And as I remember, I can rest in the truth that He remembers me… the gal that gets it wrong more than she gets it right. This heart wanders, only to be reminded that His cross is more than enough.

You know I had thought Dallas and I chose Zachariah’s name… but we didn’t. He did. God picked it out and blessed me with the revelation that the sweet little smile I would come to know is actually a daily reminder that God remembers.

It might sound odd, but I can’t stop thinking about Easter today.

Easter is really the only thing that I can think of to compare to tough anniversaries.

Good Friday: complex emotions over the death of one you love.
Saturday: grieving, processing, holding out hope for the promises spoken about Sunday! We wait and hope—believing that LIFE will come from death!
SUNDAY: Our hearts leap as the day breaks on Easter morning and we celebrate the empty grave! Christ completed what He was asked to do on the cross. ONLY GOD could tell death to “shove it!”

August 1 is not the end to our story… or James’ or Scott’s. It’s part of the story, but the story is SO much bigger than that! There are places in me, and maybe you, that beg us to get stuck in our Fridays. We mourn. We don’t move on. We can’t look forward. We get stuck in the pain, trapped in the sorrow of Friday. But we can’t miss out on Saturday! I know Sunday’s the BIG day, but a lot can happen in us on Saturday. It’s a testing of faith—of living out what we believe—of hoping that indeed Sunday will come! We cling to the promise that He will come for us! There will be an end to our suffering, the injustice, the tears, and the horrific news stories! Sunday will be AH-MAZ-ING! But we can’t miss living anchored to hope while we endure Saturday.

With all that said, we share with you 3 things to think about on your no-good-rotten day(s):

1. Remember your Friday. Don’t fight the desire to remember or “busy” yourself in an effort to ignore this natural response to loss and disappointment. If we strive to disengage our heart, we miss moments of growth. So go ahead: remember, talk about it, re-live moments. BUT… don’t get stuck in your “Friday.” At some point, you stop looking back, and you set your eyes forward.

2. Make Saturday your Thanksgiving. You might think it would be a hard thing to do on a day that your heart is so heavy, but I promise thanksgiving is key. Whether it’s mental or you choose to sit down and put pen to paper, once you begin a list of thanksgiving, you may be surprised at how quickly you’ll see the presence of God even in the midst of your darkest day. Gratitude is good for the soul and it is healing to recognize, verbalize, and credit the hand of God. When we focus on our pain, we can get jaded and angry. Thanksgiving opens up our eyes to see life from an entirely new perspective. While you dwell in your Saturday, awaiting the promise of Sunday, build your faith by recognizing the blessings all around you.

3. Set your heart on Sunday. I’ve spent some anniversaries lingering on #1 waaaay too long. I’ve wallowed, licked my wounds, and drug others down with me. If you are a believer, then get this IN you: THIS IS ALL TEMPORARY! This is not our forever home! Eternity is set in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11). Do you feel it? Let the promise of Sunday usher in peace as you are reminded that the suffering we endure here on earth will be incomparable to the hope and glory that will be revealed on Sunday! (Romans 8:18)

Lastly, we wanted to highlight 3 anniversary surprises:

1. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I don’t. Don’t feel bad either way. Most of the time I don’t and it surprises me, it might be because I’ve cried off and on the week that leads up to this day. My emotions are on !HIGH Alert! the entire month of July and then when I expect total meltdown, I have a peace that passes all MY understanding! He’s good like that.

2. Irritability. That’s just a nice way of saying that I can be a bit grouchy and easily angered leading up to my day. (Holly more so than me—just kidding!) Little things that shouldn’t be a big deal suddenly become a BIG DEAL! I call it “subconscious grieving.” I’m thankful for a God that understands our weaknesses and brings healing and freedom from even a July-hot-head. It’s been good for me to understand this “anniversary surprise” so I can fight against it. My sweet hubby and children have shown me much grace and love as they live with this sporadic “side-effect”.

3.  You don’t have to hide. You might be surprised by this, but it’s okay to let others know that a painful anniversary is coming up. I’m not saying you need to post weird, mysterious, FB statuses, but I am saying call on a friend. Be vulnerable. I know you might say, “different strokes for different folks,” but the fact is God calls us to community. We need one another! Don’t wait for someone to magically “remember” your hard day. Invite someone in. Maybe it’s someone you know really well, or maybe it’s someone who “knows” what you’re going through because they’ve experienced something similar.

I know this is a longer post than usual, but I hope that it encourages you on some level today… or on your no-good-rotten day! He can REDEEM your Friday!

If you don’t know our whole story, here’s a link to the book, Dancing On My Ashes. OR Go here for to purchase the book!

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Dancing On My Ashes | The Story

2000 was a life changing year for us. There were moments we didn’t know if we would survive, but God’s love rescued our hearts. For those out there that are hurting, confused, angry… there is hope. Real hope! Our lives are evidence of that hope and a God that is real and His love that’s healing.

Feel free to connect with us on our facebook page: DancingOnMyAshes

To order the book:

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Video made by: Rob Lyons Productions

Honor Your Father

by Heather Spring

I wrote this last year as a tribute to my Fathers. As this Father’s Day approaches I couldn’t stop thinking about this post, so thought I’d edit/update my tribute and share it on our blog…

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The Bible says to “honor your father” (Exodus 20:12). Well, it would be my pleasure to do so… right now! I often get teary-eyed for a few reasons on Father’s Day. The main reason used to be because I miss my daddy. He’s been in Heaven for 13 years… probably only feels like a few moments to him, I’m not sure, but for us time stands still at times when we feel the weight of our loss. Here’s the only picture of “us” that I have. For those of you in a large family you probably can relate. I have many pictures of my dad, but this is the only one that’s just us. It’s priceless.

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(Here’s me and my dad! Can’t wait to see him again.)

There’s so many things I’d like to talk to my dad about. I wish he was here to see all that’s happened since his death. I would love for him to know what God has continued to do in our lives because of the legacy that he began in us. Maybe he knows… he probably does. But what I wouldn’t give to be sitting next to him and sharing stories, sharing laughs, and sharing some ice-cold gummy bears.

The great thing about my God is this, when I lost my earthly father, God opened my eyes to see that He was and always had been my Father. So whether I had someone to call “Daddy” or not, He loved me. I totally get the verse in the Bible that says, He is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). As alone as I’ve felt at times, strangely enough, I have never been alone. (And then if that wasn’t enough, which it really is, but He went another step forward and has placed men in my life that “father” me. So, I continue my “honoring” by introducing you to Jim Brill.

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My late husband, James, left me with the most precious gift – his family. They have adopted me. We have held one another’s hands through our darkest hours, and I truly cannot imagine my life without them. When I lost James I remember saying that I couldn’t fathom ever marrying again! I remember vividly the day that Jim told me that not only were he and Penny praying for God to bring the right person into my life, but at some point he would be honored to be the one to walk me down the aisle! In tears I said, “That will never happen.” On November 6, 2004, Jim walked me down as I married Dallas.

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Can’t thank God enough for giving me another father – Jim Brill.

What a beautiful picture of grace, redemption, hope, and love. I thank my God every time I remember this amazing gift of my father, Jim.  Happy Father’s Day, Jim!

So… if that wasn’t enough! My mom fell in love and married, Bill. We are still celebrating God’s timing and his divine plan in our lives. Bill has been a reminder to me personally, that God hears our prayers and we can fully trust Him. Daddy Bill’s presence has brought about healing and laughter within our family. I adore this man and love the way he loves my mom. He signed up for a lot when he married her (haha), there’s a lot of crazies in this family (you know who you are), but without batting an eye he’s loved us and adopted us as his. We’ve adopted him and he’s adopted us. I feel like he’s been a part of our family from the beginning! That kind of love is from God! Happy Father’s Day, Bill!

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Daddy Bill or Papa Cary, as Noah likes to say!

You’d think I should be done with all my honoring…. but I tell you, I’m one blessed girl, because it doesn’t stop there. I have yet another daddy! For those of you that know my husband you know that it’s just not fair that he’s mine. He’s one of those guys that you would say is almost too good to be true. I bet some of you are shaking your heads with me. Well, there’s a couple reasons that he’s sooo great… two of those reasons: Earnie and Loretta. Amazing, Godly parents that raised him to love God. Not a love of religion or religious activities, but a love of a God that is real and alive.

When God allowed me to take in the fact that I was to be part of this family I was overwhelmed! I had always heard people complain about their in-laws and here I had two sets of “in-laws” that I adored and had a sweet relationship with. I am honored to call Earnie my father! Yet another reminder that God knows what we need and who we need in our lives. I am learning so much from watching him! He is selfless with those in his community, devoted to his wife, and the ultimate papa! Happy Father’s Day, Earnie! I love you!

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Earnie and I smiling over some throwed rolls!

So, like I mentioned earlier… Father’s Day has always been one of those days that I get teary-eyed. I have to admit, I think I always will, but not simply over the father that I greatly miss, but now over the way God fathers the fatherless. If you scan the above pictures, it’s obvious, I am loved. Every good a perfect gift is from above! None of this has happened by chance or because I’m lucky… it’s because I have a Father that is Love.

Some of us visited my dad’s grave site last month.

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My mom calls this photo: Life Goes On

We miss him.

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Death is hard and I desperately long to get on with the reunion! It’s hard when I’m trying to explain to my boys who their grandpa was! Or to my husband, for that matter. There have been times I’ve said, “You see that guy over there, he kind of laughs like my dad.” or “The way that man tells jokes, that’s exactly like my dad.” I’m desperate for them to KNOW him, because I know all of my boys would have LOVED him! But until we are all together again we settle for these moments in time where we pause and celebrate and remember and then thank God for the breath in our lungs, but more importantly LIFE ETERNAL!

So, may you be encouraged today. Maybe you, like me, don’t get to sit in the same room with your dad building new memories. Maybe you can’t pick up the phone and call him. You can’t enjoy the way he laughs, tells stories, or smiles. Maybe all you have are memories and pictures of what once was. Or maybe you do have an earthly father but for many reasons you don’t have a relationship, and as Father’s Day approaches you find yourself grieving. I’m praying for you today. I pray that your eyes will be opened to His great love for you and the men that He’s placed in your life to father you! May we all honor the Father of all fathers! We have a Heavenly Father that will never leave us and will always speak truth over us (even when the truth hurts). One who loves us with an unconditional love that forever is working to make us whole.

Thank You, God, that all my earthly dads want to be just like You!

Happy Father’s Day, Jesus! You indeed are the ULTIMATE FATHER!