There are times in life when the questions are many more than the answers and this is one of those times for me. Often it’s not even about my personal life and the things unfolding there but about the lives of others and the things unfolding there. This has continued to affect my perspective in life for the better.
I grew up happy and relatively uninhibited by life because of the love of those around us. One family that was part of this happy and strong foundation is the Neimeyer family…Larry, Judy, Heath and Ronan. We lived in the same neighbourhood, carpooled to school, went on joint family outings and holidays. It was four adults and five children between the ages of 9 and 5 years. Wow…I see it in a different light now that I have a son in that bracket…mad respect to the folks…mad respect. I remember trips to Naro Moru River Lodge and Naivasha, meals at each other’s homes, playing in the back yard till night fall and being dirty like crazy. The thing that stands out from that time was the warmth, love and family. For about five years life was idyllic, and then came end of primary school and boarding school in high school and we lost touch.
Last year I met Uncle Larry at a restaurant and we joked about how great it would be have coffee soon and catch up. Even as I had every intention of doing so, it didn’t happen as life took on a life of its own. I reconnected with Aunt Judy on Facebook and found some really amazing photography she was taking. Here’s a secret… pictures of scenery and plant life have me hooked without trouble. Anyway, we would chat and I have indeed used some of her pictures in my articles. What none of us could conceive was that 2014 would throw a curveball bigger than a football field.
Early this year Aunt Judy was diagnosed with cancer. It hit hard because I was so used to her sunny disposition and energetic pace in life I didn’t know how to take it. I watched from the side-lines for a while to see if this would change and to my amazement very little changed. All I saw was courage and encouragement for all of us and when she was down she asked for prayers for courage and strength. Every post I saw and still see celebrates life and the daily good. Everyday meant that there was something to smile about. Then I say the most amazing thing I have ever seen…My Tribute from Uncle Larry about all Aunt Judy’s attributes from A to Z. I cried. I cried because of the depth of love and commitment that this had taken to put together. I cried because I had never seen something like this done. I cried as this amazing celebration of life, love and companionship. I was totally blown away
One Tuesday my sister Tibaga and I went to see them at home. The only thing I can is that it was like time travel. The house is the same one we used to go to with the same warmth, love and welcome. I could see all of us running around, through the kitchen and sitting round the side and back in. The colours were what I remembered…it was like coming home. The heart and soul I remembered from this home was thriving…it was a strong healthy heartbeat. It was true to who I knew Uncle Larry and Aunt Judy to be. The only difference was Aunt Judy isn’t well in the body but her spirit is on fire.
There is a certainty that amazed me. She talks about how excited she is to see people come through her doors. She keeps you in stitches about things that have happened in the last few months. She talks about how we will all certainly die. She talks about songs she wants sung at her funeral. Yet, she is deeply concerned about brining joy to those around her. They shared how they take cards with them when she goes for chemo because they need to share the peace they have found. They talk of nurses and doctors also need the encouragement because they have to deal with frequent losses of their patients. They talk about how everyone there struggles with the pain regardless of creed or faith. It struck me that as they share these stories they smile at each other, finish each other’s sentences and are at peace. It is amazing. We could have stayed there for a couple of days but we understood that she needed to rest and we needed to get home.
It was surreal to see the new depth of understanding of life on display in front of us. It wasn’t denial or simple acceptance. It was like a mantle they have accepted with joy and expectation, walking through and working through the pain everyday yet still looking for the plans and purpose of God in everything. Everyday Aunt Judy posts something on Facebook that keeps us abreast of her progress and following her has taught me a lot in the past few months and left me with more questions than answers as is usual in life.
I am left wondering:
- Am I so clear, certain and confident in my relationship with God that nothing will shake my belief in Him regardless of the circumstances?
- Can I honestly tell God when and where it hurts and allow Him to heal it or help me deal with it?
- Am I eager to follow in His footsteps even when I can’t see the way ahead?
- Is my heart and soul so connected to God that I see the hurt and pain in the world and do something about it?
- Is my heart so connected to God that I can see good in all circumstances and celebrate it with Him?
- Do I really believe God’s word that:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
My heart is still working on these questions. This year I have seen more people I know leave this world than any other year in my life and so the questions are asked over and over and linger a lot longer now. Yet I choose to rise and put my hope in God for where else can I go.
If I raise my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come?
My help comes from Adonai, the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip — your guardian is not asleep.
No, the guardian of Isra’el never slumbers or sleeps.
Adonai is your guardian; at your right hand
Adonai provides you with shade —6 the sun can’t strike you during the day or even the moon at night.
Adonai will guard you against all harm; he will guard your life.
Adonai will guard your coming and going from now on and forever.
Psalms 121 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
All images in this post courtesy of Judy Neimeyer