Sunshine in the Valley

humor and encouragement from my heart to yours

Sometimes….

….life doesn’t make one lick of sense.

Have you ever noticed this?

Everything is backwards. Nothing is as it seems.

People get the opposite of what they wish for, and are the reverse of what we think… a lot of the time.

That which seems perfect is not remotely so, while that which seems unlikely ends in success.

Hopes and dreams of a lifetime are dashed in the course of a day.

The good die young, while the stinkers live forever. (you know it’s true! Don’t look at me like that! :P )

There is no limit to the pain which we may have to endure, or to the blessings we may enjoy.

The unthinkable does happen, frequently when we least expect it.

Yet in the midst of it all… one thing is sure.

God is still there. Still the same. Still truth, love, and hope in the middle of  the darkness. The one Constant in a world of perpetual change and confusion…and the Healer of the brokenhearted. He’s the One who knows when to draw the line of our sufferings before it becomes too much to bear, while walking beside us every step of the way.

Without Him, life would have no hope and no meaning. But with Him is fullness of joy… and a song in the night.

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Meeting the Duggars

Ok, so I have promised this entry for a couple weeks now, and have been reminded that I *still* have not posted about it, so here goes. ;)

On Resurrection Sunday evening, Lacey and I attended her church’s Easter concert. As we drove over, I expected to enjoy spectacular music and a worshipful service. I never dreamed I’d be meeting “celebrities”!

We had only been seated a few minutes, though, when word spread like wildfire that the Duggars were in attendance. Josie’s doctor was a church member there, and had invited them to the event! It was hilarious to see all the heads turning and craning to catch a glimpse of the TLC stars! ;) I was glad they were able to come, but did not initially plan to join the huge crowd around them. I figured they had enough company to last a lifetime, and didn’t want to be pesky.

The service was, indeed, enjoyable, and I was glad I went. I fully expected to just go on home, though, until Lacey came with surprising news. A good friend of hers invited the Duggars and a few other families to all go out for dinner, and she included Lacey and me in the invitation! :shock:

It only took about 2 minutes to decide we wanted to go. Seriously, how often does such an opportunity present itself? :D We were not about to miss out!

The two of us hurried on ahead of the enormous crowd heading to Cozymels, and informed the startled servers that there would be a group of 50 people coming which included the Duggars! The first thing they asked was “Are there TV crews?” The relief they evidenced upon hearing that there weren’t any was intriguing to Lacey and me…was this a good thing? Or…a bad thing? :P Hmmm.

Anyway, they managed to seat our entire group in a huge private section of the restaurant. It was kind of surreal. There were a few other large families along with the Duggars, so there were kids, kids, and more kids! The amazing thing? They were all so well-behaved. It was not pandemonium as you might expect. Everyone was minding their manners and behaving as good children should. “Controlled chaos” about sums it up. ;)

I was impressed.

The servers were scrambling to keep up with everything, and were awesome. There were a few mishaps, but we all reassured them, and I was so happy to see how everyone behaved in a Christian manner even when things went a little awry! Little issues like that can either make or break one’s testimony before others, and I hope those waiters saw Jesus in us that night!

Lacey and I sat at the table with Jill, Jessa, Joy Anna, and…oh rats. Two of the other little girls whose names just escaped me. (It’s a terrible thing to get old. :P ) They were very sweet. I noticed how each of the older siblings took care of her “buddy”, and even though it was late, the little Duggar toddlers did not fuss at all. It was really neat to see how well-disciplined and genuinely happy the kids were. The eldest, John David, kept his table in stitches, and I noticed how sweet his wife really is. They are all just good people. What you see is what you get.

I had a chance to talk more extensively with Jill later in the evening, and was impressed with her grace and poise. We had a delightful chat! I asked if it was hard sometimes to live with camera crews around all the time, and she replied that actually the film crew have become like family to them now. It really isn’t that invasive as one might imagine, because they have a relationship outside of the show: several of the staff have had their entire family over to spend the night at their homes! Isn’t that cool? Although it would still be challenging to have your personal life splashed all over the country, I’m glad that she seems to take it all in stride. They really are remarkable.

This is most of the group… sorry for the poor quality of the picture. I only had my iPhone that night, and for some reason it did not want to cooperate very well. :P Guess it was shell-shocked by the sheer number in the picture, ha.

Lacey enjoyed getting to know some of the girls too! It was fun.

Jackson is absolutely precious. Such a little charmer already! :D He was too, too cute.

It was an unexpectedly fun and spontaneous evening, and I really enjoyed meeting them all. As we parted ways, our lighthearted farewell was “See you on TLC!” :lol:

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In the midst of unthinkable tragedy…hope

I try to mainly post cheerful topics here on my blog… there’s enough gloom and doom in the news right now without my adding to it. However, last week I learned of a tragedy so severe that it has been hard to shake from my mind.

The Eshes were a family of Mennonite singers from Kentucky, well loved and respected by their church and community. A friend was to be married out of town, so all 10 family members–Mr and Mrs. Esh, their three daughters, son and daughter-in-law, two adopted little sons, and a family friend–headed out in a van to attend the wedding. But they never arrived.

A tractor-trailer rig crossed the median and smashed through the cable barrier, crashing head-on into the Esh’s vehicle. The two little boys miraculously survived, but every other person in that van died instantly. Every one of them. Eleven people. In that instant, an entire family was gone.

This was not the first tragedy to hit their family. Several years ago their oldest son was killed in a snowmobiling accident while serving as a missionary in the Ukraine. Last December, their home burned to the ground. And now this.

I can’t wrap my mind around a tragedy that unspeakable. These were people who loved God and served Him faithfully. One would “think” they would be the last folks in the world to experience such things. Yet no one is exempt from suffering, and for reasons unknown to any of us, He chose to allow particularly fiery trials in their lives before taking them home early. They are face to face with Jesus now, and will know no more pain. But I can’t imagine what their extended family and friends….and those precious little boys… are going through right now. To the world’s way of thinking, they should be angry at God. But as the following interview reveals, their faith remains strong even in the midst of extreme tragedy.

Talk about grace in the fire….

There is so much mystery, too. If you copy and paste the following link in your browser, http://www.wbko.com/news/headlines/89644927.html, you will find that there was another young lady planning to travel with them that fateful day. She had arranged everything with her friend, and then strangely forgot all about it until hearing news of the wreck. God intervened and kept her off that van, sparing her life. In my human reasoning I want to ask, “Lord, why not the rest of them too? Why did such a horrific accident have to befall that sweet family? I don’t understand!”

But the truth of the matter is, I’m not promised I am always going to understand. I’m promised that God is good even when everything my eye can see would seem to disprove it. As I’ve heard it said, when we can’t understand the hand of God, we trust His heart. I do not personally know any of the family, so I am on the outside looking in. This is not “my” trial, yet I know I can learn from it. My own faith has been encouraged to see the grace evidenced in the loved ones left behind. Please pray for them though; trusting God doesn’t mean that coping is easy.

I want to close with a link to a song the Esh family sang several years ago. It is beautiful, and the video includes pictures of them, a very touching memorial to a family whose lives–though sadly cut short– were wholly given to God to the very end.

Praise God they are home.

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