Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's Just A Storm

"And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, 
Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."
Mark 4:39
(KJV)

Storms come up lightning-fast here in the mountains.
Whew!
You can be sitting here in the stillness and calm one minute,
and the next minute flurrying around closing windows and praying for safety.

We've had some doozy-strength storms lately.
The other day, one came up out of nowhere, with no warning whatsoever.
The hail was hitting the windows with such force, it sounded like someone was pounding them with rocks.

Tonight, another hit so suddenly, we had no time to prepare.

When storms hit here, I have noticed something.
While the rest of us are fretting, rushing to look outside,
nervous, worried, and upset,
Dad Smith remains unbothered.
He sits in his favorite spot and watches as we go all to pieces.
He is quiet and steadfast and unmoved.
This World War II Veteran has seen a lot worse than any of us.

The other day, Kevin took him to the Veterans Administration Hospital for his doctor's appointment.
As Dad walked up the ramp, holding on to his walker, towards the door,
another Veteran walked up behind them.

"What were you in,
World War II?"
the stranger asked Dad.

"Yes", Dad replied.

"Wow!  I thought so."
There was a tone of deep respect in his voice.

As they reached the door,
Dad said to him,
"You go in first...go on around us.
I'm kind of slow."

The stranger stood still and said,
"No way.  You go first.  You've earned it."

I couldn't agree more.


The older I get, the more I admire his strength and fortitude.
It comforts me when he is physically able to join us at the table for meals.
There is just something about him sitting there, in his rightful place,
at the head of the dining room table.
When he is too weak to make the trek from the living room,
just a few steps away, it is just not the same.

Dad S. is a strong man.
Not so much physically, anymore.
He used to be.
I remember the day he could measure up to the strongest of men
and work as hard as anyone I've ever known.
These days, he is failing....
becoming alarmingly and steadily more feeble.
It hurts to watch this process.
I lived through it with my own dear Dad,
then almost 12 years later with Mom,
and now I walk hand-in-hand with Kevin as he makes this same journey with his parents.

It is beyond difficult to watch the ones who have always taken care of you
turn into the ones who need you to take care of them.
It is not an easy process to reverse roles.
It is downright painful...it makes me cry.

Dad's strength comes from deep inside these days.
It isn't so evident on the outside, but it shines through in his character.

The other day, when the hail was hitting the windows and everyone else was alarmed,
I looked over at him.
I needed to see his reaction.
It is important to me.

"It's just a storm", he said, in his calm, reassuring way.
I don't know...there was just something about his serene demeanor that calmed me right down.
I figured if he said it was just a storm, then it was just a storm,
and in the end, we were all going to be just fine.

He has lived long enough to realize that storms are temporary,
and to get all ruffled and upset at their onset is just an unnecessary irritation.
I wonder just how many storms he has lived through in his almost 89 years of life?
How many times has he looked into a cloud-darkened sky and felt the wind on his face?
How many times has he survived and kept going strong?
Judging by his lack of worry, I'd say it's been quite a few...
more than he probably even remembers.



Click here if video doesn't load.

Dad Smith has lived through his share of heartache, physical afflictions,
disappointment, and hurt.
He has weathered the storms of life, and he has remained stalwart, undaunted, and brave.

Having lost both of my own parents, I know one day, Kevin will have to say good-bye to both of his.
The thought fills me with terrible dread and heartache....
I don't like to think about it.
I don't like to even picture coming here...to these mountains I love so much...
and not finding those two welcoming gray heads waiting and watching for us from their back window.

I fully realize I am one of the blessed ones.
I dearly love my in-laws, and they mean the world to me.
More than ever, now that Mom and Dad are gone.
They love me, too...like a daughter.
They not only tell me, they show it every second we are together.
There is no distance between us, and our bond grows deeper as years go by.

I draw from their strength...and wisdom....and consistency...and wellspring of love and
  old-time values.
People like them are a vanishing breed.
They are rare and hard to find.

Everything you and I face in this life is fleeting...temporary.
As the quote says, "It didn't come to stay, it came to pass."
Heartache, pain, hurt, betrayal, sickness, disease, disappointment, loss,
grief, sorrow, remorse...all of it.
None of it lasts forever.
Some storms of life are much more turbulent than others,
but through it all, we have an Anchor.
It is the anchor that holds Dad S. fast when he hears bad news,
when a storm comes up out of nowhere,
when he is hit with things like double pneumonia,
congestive heart failure,
heart attacks,
and hydrocephalus.

He keeps pressing forward...regardless...knowing that one day he will reach his eternal home,
where there are no more tears, no more pain, and no more storms.
He's weathered enough storms to know that he is a survivor...a trooper....who comes through his trials stronger than he went in to them.



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I have to admit, each night when we tell him good-night,
and I watch him struggle to his room,
his back bent low, his steps tottery and faltering,
the same dreaded question plagues and hangs over my mind.

Will we get another day together?
Oh, the fragile thread of life!
So easily broken.
So brittle and unpredictable.
I watched him tonight, walked behind him, towards the hall.
"Dad, I hope you sleep well.
I hope you feel better tomorrow."

Don't we always hope that tomorrow will be a better day?
Especially, when we watch someone we love suffer day after day?

I reached my hand to his stooped shoulder,
and I patted him, while telling him I loved him.

"I love you, too, Cheryl."
His voice broke...I could tell he was holding back tears.

I think he knows our time together is limited and becoming more so each passing moment.

The other day, Kevin, Zachary, and I debated over whether we should come back to see them so soon.
In the midst of our debate, he called.
Due to his failing hearing, he doesn't call often.
I answered, and our conversation went something like this,
"Hi, Dad, how are you feeling?"

"I'm doing better, Cheryl."

"We have been worried about you and praying for you."

"I know.
You'd never believe where we are sitting right now."

In my mind, I had no doubt.
I could just picture them there...seeing it in my mind made me miss them more.
"On the porch, right?"

"Yes.  Sitting here on the swing, swinging side-by-side."

"I sure wish we were there with you, Dad."

The huskiness in his voice gave his tears away.
"You sure don't wish it anymore than we do."

That did it.
Nothing could have kept us away after that.
We came.
We are here.
I'm glad.

Tonight, it was just a storm...just like Dad said it would be.
Here are some pictures I took while it was going on...and in the still calmness after it was over.



See the raindrops?





It is amazing how quickly the cloud formations change.
Just like in life...things can change in the blink of an eye.
The whole dynamics of your situation and your life can be altered without a moment's notice.




The swing...
where Mom and Dad spend a lot of time together...side by side...
and where I seem to migrate at night...when all is quiet and still here in these mountains.
I love to go here after dark to think and meditate and hear God speak.
This is the very spot where the inspiration for some of these devotions are birthed.


The evening sun shines again...right through the clouds.


Now it sinks beneath the mountain across the road...
and the storm is past.


Country calm is restored.
See the lightning bug in the middle....
have you ever tried to photograph a lightning bug and catch the light at just the right moment?


You can barely see it, but it is there...a little to the right of center.

Another storm is over...long past now...
it is night time here in the mountains,
and two sweet boys "camping out" on a mattress in the middle of the living room floor
 sleep soundly near to where I sit on the couch.
They played hard, so they'll sleep good tonight.
I hear the steadiness of their breathing...it somehow comforts me and gives me hope.
Parents are our past.
Children are our future.
How very grateful I am...in this moment...of calm and solitude,
as I realize the winds and rain are gone,
and, again, peace reigns, and all is right with the world.
If you are facing a turbulent time, remember this, my friend....
it's just a storm.
Just hang on and trust and hold tight to God's unchanging hand.
This too shall pass,
just like our wind and rain passed through tonight...here in the mountains. 
It turns out Dad was right to remain calm and unafraid.
It was just a passing storm...just like he knew it would be.

36 comments:

  1. I'm going through this with my own sweet daddy. One way he weathered storms was not to bring job worries (he was a business owner) home with him. I remember asking him once how his day went. He said, "Oh, I don't know. I hung the day on the tree outside. I'll pick it up in the morning." What a legacy we've been given! "Till the storm passes over; till the tunder roars no more...hold me fast, let me stand, in the hollow of His hand..." Old song, but good truth.

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    1. Oh, Pamela! Your words brought tears to my eyes. I feel for you...I walked this same sad path with my dear Daddy, too. He has been gone for 14 years now. YES, what a legacy we have!! Praise God for the strong, Godly parents He placed in our lives. I LOVED the way your Daddy said that about hanging his day on the tree outside. What a wonderful philosophy! So happy to see you here today. God bless you!

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  2. What a nice post! :) Your lightening bug made me giggle. And it's funny--in the non-winter months, my swing is where I talk talk God, too! :)

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    1. So happy you stopped by...and glad this made you giggle!! :) There were actually lots of them flying around, but, unfortunately, the timing never did work out to catch them lit up!! So thankful to see you here today. God bless you!

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  3. How beautiful. So happy I was introduced to Dad Smith! What a wonderful man and how blessed you are to still have him with you. My grandfather served in WWII also and was at Normandy. Beautiful pictures!! Love their place and LOVE the mountains. Heading over to send you an email :)

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    1. So happy you stopped by, Nannette! I love it here, too...I never want to leave when we come for a visit! Our trip down their driveway towards the road is spent in tears...my heart is here! That is wonderful that your grandfather was also a WWII Veteran. We can't give them enough respect and thanks! Anxious to go read your email, sweet friend. Love you!

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  4. Thank you so much. Sweet Cheryl. It's a tough season to watch our parents depart, but such a blessing if we have that knowledge that they are walking through the door to eternity with Christ. This world is a bittersweet place, so many blessings from God, but so much pain. I'm praying and waiting as one of my best friends is sitting with gee father now, given just hours. My own father is losing his ability to walk; I don't know how people do it without The Lord. Your posts always have a sweet, comforting depth to them, which always blesses and encourages me. I thank The Lord for you and the wisdom and gifts He has given you!

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    1. Oh, dear Melody!! Your sweet visits always leave me encouraged and your words touch my heart. So many times, you have kept me going by dropping a note of encouragement at just the right moment. I am so sorry to hear about your friend and the sad path she is having to walk. She is blessed to have you in her corner...I know you are a great comfort and source of strength to her. You surely are to me! God bless you for stopping by and blessing me so much today. Lots of love to you!! :)

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  5. Beautiful post! God's peace is comforting in all kinds of storms. Reminded me of the other day when the sky was almost black, and the strong winds started to blow. I just knew we were in for a bad storm, but it actually went around us! Sometimes we think a storm is at hand, but God lets it pass around us not harming us at all. Other times, we are in the thick of it, but He brings us through. It's a comfort to know that God is in control no matter what happens.
    Chris
    somuchathome.blogspot.com

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    1. You are so right...that is such a great point. Sometimes, things are not nearly as bad as we think they will be, and God sometimes allows us to escape the storms. He is SO faithful! What a dear, compassionate Savior and Heavenly Father we have! So thankful you stopped by today, Chris...I'll be over to your place for the link-up. :)

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  6. Hi Cheryl, such a treasure your family has in Dad Smith and beautiful words you have written about him. Your words about it's just a storm bring to mind Sunday's sermon. The storms of life do rage but within each of us of the spirit of the Lord who is even stronger! Many blessings to you.

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    1. Yes, dear friend, he is truly a treasure...one that we dread losing every, single day. I was so touched by your comments and thank you so much for stopping by. Yes, praise God that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We are more than conquerors through Him that loves us! Much love to you today.

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  7. I love reading your journey in life with God and your loved ones. An inspiration!

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    1. Thank you, sweet friend! And I love hearing from you. Your words are such an encouragement to me. Love you!

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  8. Hello Cheryl. I mentioned this post in a post I wrote today. Visit it at http://somuchathome.blogspot.com/2014/06/o-how-sweet-sound.html
    After reading your post and seeing the storm pictures, a song entered my head from many many years ago. As a young girl I use to sing in the choir. I have been singing the old hymn "I Can Make It" all day. The course goes like this: I can make it, through the valley, over mountains, through the storm. Jesus keeps me so completely I can make it all the way home. I can still hear the melody and the great alto singers coming in during the harmony. I am all smiles because of this sweet memory. God is great!
    Chris

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    1. Thank you SO much for the mention, Chris, and for sharing the words to this beautiful, old hymn. I have never heard that one, but it sure sounds beautiful. I love those dear, old songs, written under the Divine inspiration of the precious Holy Spirit. I am so thankful you shared with me today. :)

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  9. Dad Smith sounds like an amazing person. Thanks for sharing more about him and more of these pictures with us. You are such an encouragement to all of us!

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    1. Dear Caroline! You bless me so much by your words and visits here. :) He really is an amazing person...I love them both so much. They are truly precious people, and I am so blessed to know them and have them in my life. God bless you richly, sweet friend. :)

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  10. Beautiful, Cheryl. What a blessing it is that you have such a wonderful relationship with your in-laws.

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    1. So happy to visit with you today, Lisa! It is such a blessing to know them and have them in my life. I thank the dear Lord so much for them, and as they grow older and more frail, I cherish the moments more than ever. I am praying for you, dear friend and believing God for your miracle!! God bless you!

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  11. Cheryl, I'm not even sure where to start. Your post was beautiful, and heartbreaking. Over the last 3 or 4 years, I watched my father become ever more feeble - both physically and mentally. It was so very difficult. My dad was always so big - literally at 6' 3" tall, and over 200 pounds - but also his presence was just such a dominant influence in our family. To see him deteriorate was brutal. He passed away in January, after a severe fall from which he just could not recover. As I approach Father's Day, I am full of such mixed feelings. Missing him, yet thankful that God released him from the tired and failing body and mind that had, in many ways, trapped him for so long. I will miss him until I see him again.

    Treasure every moment, as I know you do. And for me, will you give Dad Smith a big hug?

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Oh, dear Sharon!! I have read your posts....my heart just breaks with yours, as I feel the grief you feel on this path of losing your dear father. I so understand how you feel. I cannot begin to tell you what a difficult time I had when I lost my dear Daddy. He was so strong, too, and had been SUCH a worker all his life. Watching him go from that to a broken man who could barely walk, who could hardly see, who became more and more dependent was SO hard. I know you miss your Dad so much....I do, too. I will definitely give Dad Smith a big hug....thank you for being so sweet and understanding of my heart. I wish I could take your pain away and make this stop hurting, and I wish I could say that the grief finally ends...but I am still missing Dad after 14 years, and the pain and grief of losing Mom just two years ago is still so fresh and raw in my heart. I just try to take it one day at a time, and when I need to fall apart, I fall apart. I just try to flow with the grief and not beat myself up. Please be kind to yourself and always know that you are loved and SO appreciated! So happy you stopped by and thankful for your dear, kind words! God bless you. :)

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  12. Beautiful tribute, Cheryl. Your dad in law has my respect… they don't seem to make men like that anymore. I helped take care of my dad after his brain surgery for cancer, he was never the same after that. Like you, I miss my dad immensely, even though I know he's much better off than we are.

    Beautiful pictures, sister. You guys did good...

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    1. Thank you so much, Floyd. You are so right...they don't make men like that anymore. I am SO sorry to hear about your Dad. I know how hard it is to watch the one you look up to and depend upon for strength go from a stout, strong man to a broken, dependent one...it hurts to the core to watch that and to stand helplessly by and know that there is nothing you can do to change it. YES, what peace to know that our Dads are not in these suffering bodies anymore! It is a great consolation to know that a loved one is at rest with Jesus forevermore!! Thank you for your visit here and for leaving such kind encouragement behind. God bless and comfort you, brother! :)

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  13. Such a beautiful tribute and lovely reminder of the storms of life that ebb and flow for us all. Thank you for linking up at Unforced Rhythms.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. I so appreciate your kind words. :) God bless you!

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  14. Only a storm !! I did not like the thunder and lightening, but rain, yes that is often a blessing (just not a flood.) Your Dad is a hero to have weathered WWII and still strong in spirit. Thank you for sharing your lovely Story with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” http://letmetelluastory.blogspot.com/

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    1. You're right...I love the rain, too. :) Especially, when it is just a gentle downpour. Thank you, Hazel. He truly is a hero. They just don't make them like Dad Smith anymore. God bless you!

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  15. Very encouraging Cheryl! Thank you for sharing this. Your dad Smith reminds me of my grandparents! They were such tough beacons of strength for our families too!

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    1. Thank you, JES! Yes, there is nothing in the world like those old-timers...it saddens my heart to see that generation die off. They were a different breed, for sure. God bless you for stopping by! :)

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  16. Stopping in from Woman to Woman. He is certainly a hero and earned going in first. God bless him.

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    1. Thank you, Kim! Many blessings to you. :)

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  17. Such beautiful story of love and respect. Your dad is wise and unshaken...what a testimony!

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    1. Thank you so much, Cathy! So happy you stopped by today. God bless you. :)

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  18. As always, Cheryl, your pictures are beautifully reflecting the words of your post.I am so thankful that the sorrow and grief passes and doesn't last. It is hard to see those we love growing older and weaker. Thanks for sharing this post.

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    1. Thank you ever so much for your kind words, Judith! So happy that one day all storms will be past forever! Thanks for stopping by! :)

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