Every year when Shutterfly sends out that long-awaited email (you know the one, “Free Photo Book Offer! Expires Wednesday” And it’s Tuesday. Less than 24 hours!) I become a basket case. I have to compile all of our best photos from the last year into a comprehensible chronology and think of clever things to say about each month. AND I have to do it all between 8pm and midnight in order to redeem that offer. Talk about stressful! Good thing those offers are few and far between because I (and my poor neglected husband) would go nuts if it were more often. Well, last night was one of those “Spend the next three hours frantically trying to organize pictures to save $10 and loose your sanity” kinda nights. I scoured our pictures and hoped spell check was catching my millions of spelling errors. At 11:58 I clicked the “place order” button and sat back to admire my hard, all-be-it very rushed, work. I felt like a zombie, but it was done! And really, I imagine when the result comes in the mail here in a few days even my husband will agree it was worth the 8 bucks for shipping and all the hassle.
The great part about making those books is I get to think back on the previous year. I see pictures that I’d completely forgot about and remember wonderful memories I might have otherwise forgot. This year has been full of amazing memories. We sold our first home, bought a new house that we really love, sailed a TON (which is now so easy because we live a matter of minutes away from the lake), played with family and friends, got a dog and chickens, shared in the joy of weddings and engagements, read some good books, sent our son off to his first day of kindergarten, and saw our baby take his first steps. We’ve seen (no doubt in my mind) miracles. The task of filling the book in only 20 pages was rather difficult this year because it was such an eventful, unique one!
As I looked through the pictures, I was also reminded of some of the difficult memories that we’ve experienced. While one of the best, it has also been one of the saddest years for our family. We’ve watched as health and vitality has slipped away from family and loved ones. My heart has been broken in ways I didn’t know were possible as I’ve witnessed dear friends struggle with the unbearable, tragic loss of family members far too young to go. Old, dear neighbors have been evacuated from their homes, unsure of what they would find when they returned. My husband has waded through houses up to the ceiling in cement-consistency mud from local floods, puzzled of where to begin, secretly doubtful that anything there was even salvageable. We’ve experienced the numbing fear that comes with waiting for a diagnosis…hoping for the best, trying not to fear the worst. I’ve struggled for words when friends have lost an unborn child. A child they had been hoping and dreaming to bring to their home.
I’ve never doubted there is a God. I’ve never doubted that He loves us. But this year, more than ever before, experiences have tested my faith and shaken the very core of my beliefs. I’ve asked myself countless times, why would God allow such sadness and pain? My trials hardly hold a candle to so many others. I can only imagine the grief others have passed through and continue to face daily. My heart breaks for them. I pray that they find the answers and comfort they are seeking.
Whenever doubts arise, A song runs through my mind. A simple song my sons are learning at church. It goes like this:
How could the Father tell the world, of love and tenderness?
He sent his Son, a new born babe, with peace and holiness.
How could the Father show the world, the pathway they should go?
He sent his Son to walk with men, on Earth, that they might know.
How could the Father tell the world, of sacrifice, of death?
He sent his Son to die for us, and rise with living breath.
What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say?
Have faith, have hope. Live like his Son. Help others on the way.
What does he ask? Live like his Son.
I love this song. It’s so simple, but says so much. It helps to remind me in those moments of doubt that God really is there. He sent his Son to be our Savior. To take our burdens and carry us through our hard times. He died so that we might live again. He knows our most intimate thoughts, our deepest despair, and our happiest joys. He wants to share in those moments. Life isn’t easy, but with faith and hope we can tackle our hardest challenges. And by so doing we can help others through their darkest moments.
I’ve come to understand this year that life is full of happiness and sorrow. No one is exempt from sadness in this life. But God has provided us with a Savior to help us through. He loves us, wants us to find joy, and has given us someone who understands. I know of so many who carry unbearable burdens, but, with the help of the Savior do it with incredible poise and strength. They truly do have faith and hope. They truly live like our Father’s Son. And every day I hope when I face the trials that will come, I can be like those brave, wise people. That I can turn to my Savior to help me through. That I can be more like Him.
Other songs that comfort me when I need that strength: