In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Friday, May 24, 2013

Real Life Miracles

Not many people loose their spouse at such a young age.  It is nothing short of a big, fat tragedy.  Even the most optimistic optimist would have to squint pretty hard to find the silver lining in scenario like ours.  While I don't think that I'll find silver linings having to do with Dave being gone, I can say that I have been set in a position of experiencing and watching miracle after miracle.

It would be remiss of me to keep these miracles unannounced.  So hold on to your hats, because you're going for a ride.  Disclaimer - some of these stories may be in previous posts, but I want to collect them all into one.

Miracle numero uno and it is a biggie.  This miracle has really been a sort of anchor, through months of questioning:  
The day before my life changed, I was standing by the stove in my kitchen.  The girls were coloring at the table and Leah looked up and boldly yelled, “Look!”  
“At what?” I said.  
“Look!”  she repeated as if it was obvious to all.  
I said, “What  I don’t see anything?”  I was seriously trying to figure out what she was pointing to.  There was nothing on the wall and her eyes were seriously focused on something that I couldn't see.  
Maci just kept saying, “Yeah” after each time Leah spoke.  
Finally, after urging her to tell me what she was seeing, she said, “It’s Jesus!”  
I said, “Where?” 
She said, “Behind you!”  
Realizing that they may actually be seeing something, I said, “What does he look like?”  Maci replied, “He’s standing behind you, with his hands on your shoulders.”  
I froze and actually tried to feel his hands, but unfortunately, I felt nothing.  Then I thought, that is so weird, because they seemed so sure that they were seeing Jesus, but I thought to myself that this was not one of those times in life where I was needing to feel Jesus’ hands on my shoulders.  I have had many days in the past year and half where a shoulder rub from Jesus was in order, but life was finally smooth sailing. 

The second little miracle: 
I was in the middle of all the awful tasks you have to do when your spouse dies.  I had already spent hours at the Social Security office once, but I had to go back to follow up with something.  I walked in and it was a 2 1/2 hour wait.  I was by myself and having that feeling that if everyone knew what had just happened to me, maybe they would give up their ticket and let me cut.  I was already on the verge of tears and feeling like I just couldn't sit there by myself for that long, so I left.  I found myself at McDonald's on Academy by the Citadel Mall right in the middle of lunch hour.  Some special high school was out on lunch, because the restaurant was jammed with hungry, loud, gang like (I'm sure they are all very sweet) teenage boys.  I was so out of my element and so lonely and so on the cusp of tears.  Right before I prepared to order my Southwest Chicken salad, I had this feeling that the McCashier was going to ask me a question that went a little deeper than, "May I take your order?"  Sure enough, he didn't ask me about my order, but looked right in my eyes and said, "What are you doing right now?"  I said, "I've been at the Social Security office."  He said, "Why are you having to go there?"  I said, "It's going to sound like I am making this us, but my husband just died and one of my three kids just came home from Ethiopia 10 months ago and I am having to sort out a lot of information between the two events."  He said with such an empathetic and concerned face, "I believe you."  We talked a little more and at the end, he reassured me that God was with me and he said, "I wish I could do more, but can I at least give you a free drink?"  That interaction was so big for me in that moment.  In a time where I felt swallowed up in the middle of the Social Security office and crazyville McDonald's I felt like God used that man to show me that He sees me and He gave me a free Sprite to prove it!  I then went back to the SS office, someone gave me their ticket to jump ahead and I waited just a short time to finish my task.  

Miracle number three:
Ever since we brought Maci home from Ethiopia, she has had Giardia and has been so kind as to share it with, at least, Leah, and maybe others.  This special gift from Ethiopia had me spending many a hour in the bathroom each day, not to mention spending many a dollar getting lab work and medicines.  On December 13, I was back at the doctor talking about the next step.  There was a chance that the Giardia had made it into her gall bladder, which the only treatment for that was to remove her gall bladder.  I came home and told Dave that this Giardia business was on him now.  He was going to have to take them to the specialists and do the stool samples, etc. . .  I was done with it.  Obviously, Dave wasn't able to follow through on his commitment to dealing with this pesky parasite plaguing our family, so in Dave's absence, I began talking to God about this situation and asking him to please help. I felt so overwhelmed by more tests, doctor visits in Denver, a strong possibility of one or two of our kids having their gall bladder removed, etc. . .  It just felt like too much.  So, I collected more lovely stool samples and results were positive as I suspected.  She had already been through three treatments and now she, Leah, Spencer, me, and Charles the dog, had to all take medicine AGAIN!  We had already tried this medicine twice and an even more powerful one once without any change.  The point all being, that the day before our infectious disease appointment in Denver, all of our lab work came back negative.  I am proud to say that I spend way less time in the bathroom and most Aldridge stools are well formed.  Is that TMI?  I believe it to be God taking care of me in a way that even Dave couldn't.  

Miracle number four:
Money.  I'm not sure if many of you know, but from about January through the first of April, I was looking at some serious financial scariness.  It is still a little scary, but God has shown me that He will provide.  Much of the provision has come from people.  One little cool story was right before I went up to Breckenridge to go skiing over Spring Break a neighbor of mine gave me a check from a friend of her parents who heard about my story.  I graciously accepted the folded check and stuck it in my purse wondering who these people were that don't even know me, but are giving me money???  As I prepared for my trip, I debated about putting my kids in lessons, because it was going to be a small fortune.  However, it would be the only way for me to get a chance to ski, because Dave was no longer around to trade off days.  I was still in some serious financial limbo, so I wasn't sure about spending that kind of money.  Right before I left, I finally opened up the check that Surya had given me, and it was for $500.  I had my answer.  I was going to use particular check to put my kids in ski school.  All day long, while I gracefully and swiftly (just kidding) skied down the mountain, I just kept feeling such gratefulness for this family and all the other hundreds of families that have given money, whether it was $5 or $500 dollars. It is all a sacrifice for them, so that I can provide for my family experiences that Dave would want them to still have.  

Miracle number 5:
One night I was at the Martin's house and, as usual, they had a delightful dessert spread of Cookies N Cream ice cream AND sprinkles.  Spencer was too engrossed in Mario Brothers to break for ice cream, but upon corralling the kiddies to get out the door, he began to show his dislike for leaving before dessert.  I said, "We can get some at home, but your sisters are melting, so we've got to go."  My private mantra in my head was repeating, "Please let us have some ice cream at home - please let us have ice cream at home."  I knew I still had some au natural green tea ice cream, but Spencer was not a fan of it. Sorry Linette.  He was teetering on a break down, the girls were in semi breakdown mode and I just wanted there to be ice cream at home to dispel a huge tantrum.  When I walked into the kitchen, on the table was some sprinkles and some chocolate sauce.  I saw it, but was so focused on getting everyone in jammies that it didn't really register.  Everyone got in their PJ's and Spencer started asking for ice cream.  I just about was holding my breath when I opened the freezer door and right front and center was a brand new tub of Cookies N Cream ice cream. WHAT?  I went back over to the table and a note on the sprinkles and Magic Shell said, "Sorry we didn't get donuts over to you this morning.  Hopefully, you can enjoy this ice cream tonight." God had provided again!  And this is just one story of so many where I have received something in the mail or on my porch that arrived at the most critical or perfect time.  Like food for lunches for Spence when I hadn't gone to the store in a while.  Like beach towels, when I used my old ratty ones to clean up our flooded basement.  And the list goes on.  

I want to write these stories down, because I really, truly, from the core of my heart, believe that these and other moments were true miracles.  I am residing in a zone where the verse from Psalms 46:1 has been proved time and time again.  "God is our refuge and strength, an EVER-PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE."  It doesn't say that we won't have trouble, but God has been ever present.  I know I haven't always felt it, especially in February and March, but that is why I want to write these things down.  It is easy to forget how intimate and powerful God is when things are not going our way, but he has consistently shown me, that HE SEES, HE IS POWERFUL, AND HE IS EVER PRESENT.



Collin Grant said...

I love this. God provided for my family in amazing ways when my dad died in my childhood. I only know most of the stories because my mom remembered them and told them to us many times. Keep telling your kids the stories of God showing up in the big and small things. It will form their faith.

Sara Singleton said...

Thank you Holly for these Ebeneezers (stones of remembrance). Each of them declares, "God did it! It is true! His promises never fail. His mercies never, ever, ever come to an end!"
Jim and I stand in awe with you at God's ways - troubling indeed, yet Present in trouble in a way that calmer times obscures.

You are loved!!!

Justine said...

I love that you posted this list! I pinned it and am sharing it with my widows group. The best are when God shows up in the little things. It lets me know that I am truly not alone.

Eugene Luning said...

WOW!!! I just read the last three entries at once and now my kids are wondering why I am crying :) But, they are tears of JOY and gratitude for our Lord Jesus who COMES!! Thank you Holls for sharing these precious, honest moments and reminding everyone of who He is. You are a true warrior princess, a mix of courage and vulnerability that is SO honoring to Him and such a lesson to me. I love you friend!

Jenny Luning said...

P.s. That last comment was me (Jenny) not Eugene :)

Mother of Many said...

Holly sue I would really like to meet you.

Kara Tippetts

I couldn't find a place to contact you.