Friday, January 1, 2010

A Bittersweet New Year

New Years Day--typically a welcome breath of newness and hopes for a better new year.

But for my family, it was a day of vainly wishing time to slow down to give us just awhile longer. It was a day of shedding private, quick tears in darkened hallways and behind closed doors. It was a day of wrapping ourselves in a few final loving embraces and mental snapshots of a brother, son, grandson, nephew, and uncle before he and his wife go to make a new life far away from us.

For my family, January 1 meant the last day before letting go of my brother, Johnathan, and his wife, Liza, as they follow God's call to sixteen years of service as a chaplain in the Navy. And around bowls full of gumbo, we stopped time, just for a moment, to treasure what could well be the last time everyone is together in one room.

A lot can happen in sixteen years.

And although his words will never say it, he knows.

As he plays with my daughter, his eyes say he already knows the pain of the many sweet little girl hugs and "mwah" kisses he's leaving behind. He knows the rough and tumble games with my two boys will no longer be a part of the Sunday afternoon routine. He knows Grandmother hugs may not be here when he returns.
And yet, this is what we as Christians do. We give up what God asks us to give up because the call is sacred.

But we still cry and mourn because the road Christ asks us to walk is not easy...and because we are still made of flesh.

Letting go is hard.

Sometimes I think it's harder on those of us left behind because we don't have the busyness and excitement of newness spreading wide before us.

We're left to gaze upon the empty seats across the Sunday table, to answer little boy questions about where Uncle Johnathan is...all the while wishing we could go with them, too...if only God would call us to do so.

Tomorrow before my children's heads even leave their pillows, Johnathan will be high up in a plane on his way to a 5 week training in Rhode Island and then on to South Carolina for another training. Then, he'll come home to get his wife and together, they will start their new life in Washington D.C.

Pray for them. Pray for my parents. And pray for me.


  1. Please know that you and your family are in my prayers. I am sorry for the loss you all are feeling but also smile because they have the courage to step out and follow what God has called them to do.

    May God reveal himself to all of you in new ways during this season of change.

    Blessings to you and your family....

  2. I pray that God will give you strength and peace. As hard as it is to be separated, how awesome that your kids get to see what an awesome sacrafice their Uncle is making because of His love for God - what a testimony. God bless you & your family.

  3. I have a huge lump in my throat. My heart aches for you.

    I cannot fathom what you must be feeling. Praying for His grace to cover you. To cover him, all of you.

    Jennifer, somewhere in the midst of the busyness that you find yourself in over the next months, I hope you know that--if only a small part of His plans for you--you are indeed ministering. He "IS" using you. Right here on this blog. Right here in my life.

    I pray that you find comfort in that.

    On a completely different note--as soon as your blog popped on the screen, Sophie said, "let me see Wyatt. Where's Wyatt."

    I'm dumbfounded that she already recognizes your blog. You're bringing smiles to her as well with those pictures of those sweet kids.

    So sorry for your heart's ache. Praying your Saviour wraps His loving arms around you and that you feel comfort from the One who is acquainted with grief.

    Much love to you!

  4. Oh, I agree. It's definitely harder on those left behind. They cling to the memories, whereas the ones moving ahead have so much newness to grasp. But you still have each other, and you'll always have gumbo...

    Praying for you!

  5. Jennifer, thinking of you in these hard days, and praying. Of course, praying.