Can you believe we are ending the month of July? How has summertime slipped away so quickly? Finally, I write the July 4th story that showered me with fireworks from Heaven. Please read with an open mind and believing heart as I write words He sends and hit send without scrutinizing the story.
Getting things in order at The Learning Station and Tim’s Gift Inc. so that I could get to Topsail and spend some time with our neighbors whose mother, my MeMaw by choice, is expected to pass away anytime, took longer than expected. There were Sonshine visits to make before leaving town. Two close family friends who lost loved ones were on my list. As I sat on the front porch with Rebecca and Joey Warren and his mother, we talked of why things happen as they do. Rebecca’s 34 year old brother would be buried on July 3rd. As we held hands and prayed, a gentle breeze seemed to settle with a peace that God had taken her brother from his painful health problems and ushered him into paradise. Death hurts no matter how blessed it seems in certain situations.
Heading out to visit Lynn Webster’s mother and daddy was next on my ‘to do’ list. However, due to more things to take care of at work than time allowed, I opted to get on the road and make the visit to see Mr. Sutton when I got back from Topsail. The lesson I have learned over and over in my lifetime reared its ugly head once again. “Do not put off until tomorrow what you should do today.” Mr. Gus, the precious man who loved my boys when they attended Kids Only, and let Clint ride his tractor when he climbed over the fence on a spring morning in 1986 and headed for the farmer that he (and the other kids) loved like a father, passed away while I was writing a story for this column at Topsail on why things happen as they do. Pausing to remember him and his dear family brought a peace that only comes from God. My thoughts included ‘only if’…only if I had taken time to go by and share a prayer and show that I cared. I could imagine the celebration feast happening in Heaven as I sat on our daybed and typed my heart out about how good is our GOD…and He is good all the time even when our broken hearts grieve with pain that paralyzes and plummets us in a state of shock…even when we knew death was coming!
The ‘me’ time at Topsail was needed, actually it was ‘me and God’ time that I was soaking up like sunrays streaming through my open blinds! Unloading my cooler, I stopped to read a magnet’s message on my refrigerator…”Your life is a love letter written by Jesus. You’re a giver of grace, a carrier of hope, a bringer of blessings wherever you are.” This reminder set the tone for three wonderful days of writing, praying, singing, remembering, realizing I wasn’t ready to take James’ clothes out of our closet, walking on the beach, visiting MeMaw, sharing meals with the Fussells and the Spells, freezing corn, figuring out how to go forth and fit in a world made for ‘couples’ without my husband, James, by my side, praising the Lord with a deep and devoted love and trust that He’s got me, and just enjoying this time together with Him and friends He has put in my path.
Settling on the daybed with my computer, I started to write. Then, I stopped and remembered buying this daybed when a furniture store in Clinton went out of business in 2001. I put it together myself with plans to surprise Tim. Ironically, the surprise came when Tim arrived with amazement that I handled this “man’s job” all by myself. I was proud as a peacock until he sat on it and the day bed fell to the floor. My hard work backfired, but we shared a memory that still brings laughter to my heart today. I can see Tim in the middle of that mess reaching out with open arms to hug me even though I didn’t do it right. Isn’t that so true in our lives. We don’t do all things right, but true love overlooks mistakes and makes the most of the good, the bad, and the ugly. God’s loving arms are always open to love us – even in our messes.
When we share happy times even in hard times, we understand the blessings of everlasting love. Failing to secure two little screws caused the collapse. Lesson learned…read the instructions and test it before your husband arrives. Memory made…laughing, loving, and redoing it together the right way is still etched in my mind.
This daybed has witnessed lots of laughter and tons of tears. For years, I sat here and wrote stories and sought help from God. Looking over the sound, I would watch the sun slip into the water and wonder what the rest of my life would look like.
In 2011, God sent James Vann to Tim’s Gift and blessed me to become his wife on January 5, 2013. The daybed where I would sit and write and commune with Christ became a special place for James and me also. Today, I write and remember the first time we sat here and realized our hearts were being opened to love again. We thanked God for a new beginning. James would hold out his arms and wrap me up close to him as we watched sunsets together and thanked God for our love…and His. James told me in this very place that he would never stand in the way of anything God had planned for me to do. I told him we made a great team and God could use both of us. And He did!
Why do things happen as they do? We should not dwell on or worry ourselves sick trying to figure it all out or wonder what could have been done differently. In His way and time, God will take care of and reveal reasons for the things we ponder in our hearts. I miss James so much but find peace in knowing God knows more than me and called James home in His perfect timing. The pain we carry when a loved one leaves here and life must be readjusted does not go away but becomes a dull ache that God replaces with joy as only He can do.
Wherever I go, it does not seem right without him here. I move from the daybed, to the couch, to the recliner, to the porch, to my bicycle (and leave his standing in the shed alone), to church (where we sat on our special pew with his arm around my shoulder), to the empty coffee pot (he always served me a cup every morning), to our prayer journal (where we wrote names in each morning and prayed together before work, to bed (where we kneeled beside each night to pray and climbed in to hold one another, talk, and share the beautiful love God ordained for a man and woman in His Word). James’ heart was big and our love is eternal.
Why do things happen as they do? I cannot answer that but can testify to LOVE…love of Father, family, and friends. I look forward to sharing the love stories that color my world with His love and the love of those He sent to share my journey with. I encourage you to tell or write your own love stories so they can be preserved and passed on.
The rest of the fireworks story to follow in next week’s column!!!!!!!
Becky Spell Vann is a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent’s Faith & Family section and owner of the outreach ministry Tim’s Gift.