Friday, October 31, 2008
The Ways God Speaks
For years before our 25th wedding anniversary, Vinnie and I dreamed of going on a cruise in Alaska. We knew that a trip of this kind would be expensive so we really never looked into how much a trip like this would cost. We knew we didn't have the money to go but we hoped that as we got closer to the date, maybe we'd find it. When we go to the year before that date, Vinnie had cancer. Medical bills and family affairs gobbled up what money I'd like to think we might have had. Who knows. When we knew Vinnie was in his last few weeks of life, it dawned on me one day that he might see Alaska before me - because he'd see it, if it's possible, from Heaven. I jokingly told him that I was mad at him that he could arrange to see it before me. He suggested that I go to Alaska myself with a small bottle of his ashes so I could say he took me along and then sprinkle some of the ashes in the ocean. My daughter, Shelly suggested to her dad to send me a picture! She's so cool.
I am amazed at the many ways that God speaks to us. The day Vinnie died, we had all the funeral arrangements on stand by. The funeral home and our pastor knew exactly what we wanted. All I had to do when he died was make a few calls, decide on days and times, and that was it. When we left Vinnie at the hospital, we knew the nurses were going to get him washed and ready for the funeral home. We went home to find his tuxedo that he wore to the last wedding he was at. We wanted him to go out in style! He looked so amazingly handsome when we saw him at the funeral home. He was finally at peace, with no pain, no more pain.
When I got home that evening, all I wanted to do was rest. I wanted nothing more than to rest in a quiet space, with no one calling me see how Vinnie was doing - just rest. The nurses warned me to get rest because it was going to be an exhausting weekend and the day after Vinnie died, I had one whole day of quiet. I recall laying on the sofa for a while and could see through the slats in the blinds. All of a sudden my daughter Michelle got excited because there was a hummingbird at the hummingbird feeder on the back deck!
Anyone who's known me for any length of time knows how much I love hummingbirds. My oldest daughter and her husband bought me a hummingbird feeder on their honeymoon. It had been on the back deck for weeks and never had a hummingbird at it once - not once. But that day, the day after Vinnie died, a beautiful little hummingbird came, flew around the feeder, feasted, perched it's little body on the side and hung around for the longest time - maybe five minutes. As soon as it flew away, I cried. I could not help be sense that the little bird was sent to us to be a comfort. When I told my daughter that I thought the bird was sent from Vinnie, or God to comfort us, she agreed; she sensed the same thing. A hummingbird never appeared at our feeder before and never came to the feeder since.
The funny thing is that as I was getting ready to go to the funeral home for the viewing, I could not find a pair of matching earrings. I do remember finding one hummingbird earring that I'd forgotten I had. And would you know - that I suddenly found the other hummingbird earring. It was the one that I could find a match to that night. Maybe it seems that I am stretching the idea that God would use hummingbirds to comfort one grieving widow, but it was a comfort to me just the same.
And I know now that it was God's intention to comfort me in whatever ways it would take. A few days after Vinnie died, my youngest daughter and her husband and I went to pick up my two of my grandchildren to spend the day with them. As soon as my grandson got in the car, he picked up something from the floor, I am guessing. My daughter took it away realizing that what he found was too nice to be played with. She asked me about it but I didn't know what she was talking about. To the best of my knowledge, there was nothing in my car. I'd been driving Vinnie around in my car for months (he was always too uncomfortable to drive) and he didn't like stuff laying around in the car. It had actually been clean for a while! (It no longer is now that he's not been here to stay on my back about it - sorry, Vinnie : ) !)
She began to tell me that it was a calendar with pictures of Alaska, but upon further examination, it turned out to be a calendar FROM Alaska! We were baffled! When I finally had a few minutes to look at it, I cried like a baby because the pictures were beautiful. I was sad that I would never go with Vinnie. I was baffled that the calendar really did come from Alaska, and that it came on a very sad day in our family - my oldest daughter was having major marital problems right after Vinnie's memorial service and we were relieving her of two of her children so she could take care of some affairs. We were all upset and this calendar showed up out of nowhere!
Over time, as I told this story to friends over the next few weeks, it became clear where the calendar came from. Apparently, several months before Vinnie stopped working, a lady at his office went to Alaska and brought back extra calendars with beautiful pictures in it. She asked her fellow workers if anyone wanted one to take home. Vinnie took one of course! He never told me about it. I never saw it before. I guess he either forgot or - well, who knows why I'd never been shown the calendar. I guess the answer to that is God. God saved it, hid it actually, in my car for months, I'd assume, until the very day and time I needed to see it. God comforted me and my daughter with this calendar. I am convinced He knew all along when it would need to be found. And when I thought there was nothing in my car to clutter the floor or seats, my grandson found it in a split second on the day it needed to be found.
Vinnie was right in his favorite saying - "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." He was not one to have long verses memorized from the Bible but he knew God's Truth and His promises and reminded me of them daily - even after he left us to go Home! God (and maybe Vinnie too?) has remarkable ways of speaking to us. Remember the story in my first post about how God prepared my heart to hear the news of Vinnie's cancer? This too is a way God spoke to me. It's so important that we don't get so caught up in our own emotions, affairs, and problems and listen and watch for God. (I am preaching to this choir!) so we can "hear" from God who does speak to us in a multitude of ways - maybe even daily if we have our spiritual antennas' tuned up!