Have you experienced how God can bring sunshine from shattered dreams? Stories throughout the Bible tell of people’s shattered lives and how God restored them in wondrous ways. Job’s story amazes me. Most of us have lost loved ones, possessions, health, even some friends, but what if we lost everything as Job did? His faithfulness and forgiving heart, even for the friends who didn’t stand by him in his time of need, show the character of a man who loved and trusted God. His story ends with God sending showers of blessings to a man who endured the enemy’s testing of a faithful man.
Ruth’s love story is a classic, one that touches hearts with lessons of sorrow, sadness, faithfulness and unconditional love. I love to read it and sing the song from the scripture that shares the depths of true love. Ruth vows that ‘whither thou goest, I will go, wherever thou lodgest I will lodge, thy people will be my people and thy God my God’. Her humble, honorable attitude in a situation when her dreams were shattered got God’s attention and her mother in law’s devoted love and admiration. Ruth was willing to do things many women would have refused or done with a bad attitude, like gleaning in the wheat fields, going back to her mother in law’s land and obeying her instructions concerning Boaz. Ruth made good choices in bad situations; she followed her heart, helped her mother in law, treated people kindly, was willing to go forth in faith instead of staying stuck in sorrow, and was blessed by God. Never would Ruth have thought she would marry again and give birth to a son who would be in the lineage of Jesus Christ. She had to go through the process to get to a place of blessings. Are we willing to go through the process with determination to remain faithful, positive, loving, and loyal to the Lord and loved ones? Do we strive to make the situation better instead of being bitter? Do we react to situations we didn’t expect to shatter our dreams with an humble, sweet spirit.? The stories of Ruth and Job serve to remind us that God is always with us. He can bring sunshine back to our lives when seasons of sorrow and suffering threaten to steal hope and happiness.
Winter 2007 was such a season in my life. My family celebrated our first Christmas without Tim. Mrs. Jane Kaleel came to The Learning Station bearing a special gift, a pewter ornament for our tree that told how Tim was celebrating Christmas in heaven that year. Her kindness to seek me out bearing a gift as a ‘wise woman’ still warms my heart. Every year I hang her ornament on our tree with thoughts of heavenly celebrations and visions of loved ones dancing on streets of gold. Her gift inspired me to give help to others in their process of grief or seasons of sadness. I pray for people stuck in sorrow, missing seasons of blessings God is waiting to send. Giving God your load of grief, sadness, bitterness, offense, anger, whatever distances you from living life closely connected to Him and those He sent into your life to love and cherish until death takes them or you away, is the only way to peace and happiness as you journey through life.
Tim’s mother and I were pitiful women that first Christmas without him here. She was sick and spent Christmas in the hospital. Her two sons took turns spending the night. I called Dwight the Saturday before Christmas and told him I would stay that night. It wasn’t easy. Our hearts were broken and spirits low as I settled down for the night in the chair beside her bed. I tended to her with God tendering my heart to a mother in law I never thought liked or understood me. I didn’t sleep much that night with thoughts of blessings we both had missed by not being closely connected. I softly cried and closed my eyes to ask God to forgive me and heal our hearts. When daylight came, I turned on the television; Joel Osteen was preaching about Ruth and Naomi. His message was meant for my mother in law and me that Christmas Eve. I wept silently as Joel told how love overlooks offense and binds loved ones in one accord when honor is given to God and to family. I rose up and stood beside Mom’s bed, wiping tears from her wrinkled cheeks and holding her soft, frail hand. I told her I loved her and she would be okay. She squeezed my hand and vowed her love for me too. That moment our hearts beat in tune with God’s love flowing as He intends for all families to experience. Mom and I share a close relationship that grows sweeter and stronger every day. Each time I leave her house, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for our closeness and the comfort we give one another through each season God blesses us to be together. If anyone reading this story is distanced from a loved one, especially an in law, please pray that God will work a miracle of love in your lives also. Just remember, He needs a little help from you. He often sends opportunities our way that we turn away, like the man who died and went to heaven questioning why God didn’t save him from the flood. God told how He sent a helicopter and a boat to rescue him but He refused their help. If someone tries to help you mend broken relationships, they may be a messenger from God, like Mrs. Kaleel and Joel Osteen were for me. Tender your heart, forgive and move on with the process, reach out in love, and look for blessings to follow.
God surely sent blessings I never dreamed would happen to me. James Vann lost his wife in 2009 to cancer also. He started coming to Tim’s Gift to New Beginnings, started by four widowed friends and myself to help people who are grieving. He heard about it from a Hospice nurse and good friend who cared for Tim, James’ wife, and his mother in law through their battles with cancer. James came to Tim’s Gift looking for help to deal with his sorrow. Ironically, I call it miraculously, the day he came to Tim’s Gift was a new beginning for both of us. Neither of us thought we could ever love again, but God had other plans. We were married on January 5th and are happy as two peas in a pod. We know God’s hand brought us together. We honor the Lord and our loved ones who stuck with us through our process of grieving and giving love another chance in our lives. We hope others see how God can heal broken hearts and bind families in love and one accord when He is the cornerstone. James and I hope people see how God can change any situation and bring sunshine from sorrow.
The sweetest part of our love story is that our families are closely connected. Before I ever went to dinner with James, I sought my mother in law’s blessing. We sat down at her kitchen table where the Spell family has made lots of memories. I opened my heart, as she did hers. What we shared that day is priceless, the love of a woman I am proud to call my Mom gave me her blessing and told me to give James a chance. She walked down the aisle at my church and took her seat on the mother’s pew at our wedding. I walked down the aisle on the arms of my two sons with James and his two daughters waiting at the altar. My heart beat with joy and thanksgiving to my Lord for these miracles of love in my life. James and I are thankful for God’s hand of healing and happiness in our lives. We look forward to sharing our sunset years together and helping people see how God can bring good from bad things that shatter dreams. May God bless each of you who have showered James and me with love and blessings in this special season of our lives.