Spring came early this year. We've been picking strawberries for a couple of weeks now. It helps to not have to date the jam jars with the month of May. (I might just date everything strawberry related with the month of April. Whatever helps, right?)
I'm going to look back for a moment...At this time 2 years ago, I was planting 50 strawberry plants. I was just beginning my 9th month of pregnancy, pillow on the ground under my knees, many times wondering, "Who does something like this?" But, when you're a farmer's daughter...
That same year, Heather and I went to the strawberry farm down the road and picked berries 3 days before Grace was born. The flood of 2010 left the fields so muddy and slippery. I remember having to walk very carefully so I wouldn't fall. Wanting to get our year's supply in the freezer before the baby arrived, we made jam the next day. I think that I'll always have 5-18-10 engraved in my head each time I look at a jar of strawberry jam. At that time, I was still living in my content little world where everything goes as I planned.
Yesterday, Heather and I walked out to our garden for another picking. Lightheartedly I said, "Heather, I think I'm going to start crying. Look at all of these berries." She said, "Dear God, please stop blessing us!" She makes us smile.
I'll admit that they taste a lot sweeter this year than they did a year ago...all part of the healing process, I guess. It's interesting how processing strawberries and grief relate to one another. Both are bittersweet.
I wrote the following thoughts last July (2011)...
What comes to mind when you hear the word “blessing”? I think of blessings as things that we're thankful for. I think of something good...something happy...something that brings us joy. I wouldn't consider something that causes sadness and brokenness to be a blessing. After Grace was born and died a few hours later, we heard from our family and friends, “What a blessing it is that she didn't suffer,” or “It's such a blessing to have a child in heaven.” I've often said the same thing to others who lost a loved one. Of course, it's a blessing to absolutely know that Grace is living in heaven, but it's a blessing that we wouldn't wish for any parent to experience. No one imagines their child dying before they do ~ no matter what age they are...whether they were born perfectly healthy or with struggles. Who carries a child with the intent of him or her dying before birth, shortly after birth, or even years later? No one! I know that I didn't carry Grace for 9 months just to watch her die. Sometimes I sarcastically say, “What a blessing!”
Having a child living in heaven brings us joy and sorrow at the same time. This blessing puts such a weight on my heart, causes my heart to race, and even makes me feel sick to my stomach. I know that God absolutely knows what's best, and when I struggle to try to understand I am reminded that...
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared
for those who love him”... I Corinthians 2:9
Does this feel like a blessing? Not at all. I continue to feel as though I'm being punished and that I didn't deserve to have another child. I often feel as though I'm being looked at as a horrible person who must be a really bad mom. But is this how God works? Of course not! When He sent Jesus to suffer and die for our sins, we were set free...just like Grace was. What a relief to know that she'll never experience a broken heart, stubbed toe, or sore throat. The pains of this life are light and momentary. I am completely humbled and even embarrassed at how ungrateful I must sound, at times. Thankfully, I will never experience anything that comes close to the suffering Jesus endured for me.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet in-
wardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our
eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.” II Corinthians 4:16-18
Last night as I tucked Heather into bed she said, "Mom, do you know that God is not going to stop blessing us?"
"I know," I answered.
From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16