I went to South Dakota just because. I was taken on a tour of local farmland. The town of Sisseton from a few miles away. Trying to stay cool on a boiling hot day.
Janet and I took a tour bus up to Castle Hill, where Albrechtsburg and the Cathedral still stand. King Heinrich I founded the fortress “Misnia” on the castle hill high above the Elbe river in 929. The Cathedral was built between 1260 -1425. The twin towers were added later in 1909.
The Meissen Cathedral or Church of St John and St Donatus (German: Meißner Dom) is a Gothic church in Meissen in Saxony. In 1581 the Meissen diocese was dissolved in the course of the Protestant Reformation, and the church was used by the Protestant Church since. It is the cathedral church of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Saxony. We did not make it inside except for the Room of Silence because we decided to tour the castle first and that took long enough that we only had a few minutes to catch the last bus back down to Meissen. There is a lovely little courtyard outside that we spent a lovely minute in. This bridge is the second oldest bridge still standing in Germany, leading up to Albrechtsburg and the Cathedral. Next week I will take you on a tour inside Albrechtsburg, the Meissen Castle!
Beauty. Color. Calm. These words describe Oma’s garden.
On Sunday, a large group of people said good-bye to a dear friend. Some where closer to her than others, but no one in that room would ever be the same again. Our Joi is dead.
True, Joi Joi is in Heaven now. She feels no pain and feels with certainty the whole-making joy and acceptance that she gave to everyone she came into contact with.
When I first heard the news, I was shocked. Joi Joi? Dead? How can it be?? ‘I’ve been thinking about you, Joi. I miss spending time with you like we used to. I want to hang out with you. Soon! Maybe we can take a picnic to the Stone Arch Bridge again. When do you have time?’ But that call was never made. I felt guilt that I hadn’t called Joi. If I had called more often, would she still be alive? Told her more often how much she meant to me, how special and amazing and loving and beautiful and irreplaceable she was?
Then a song started ringing in my head. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart… Only, I pictured it going I’ve got my Joi Joi, joy, joy, down in my heart…down in my heart to stay. And all the verses would stream through my head. For three straight days that song took over my brain. Now I’ll probably cry whenever it’s sung.
But really, it’s true! The memories and love we have for Joi will always be in our hearts. The encouraging texts, the letters, the stories. Her beautiful light-up-the-world smile. That laugh that invited everyone in to be included in something funny. There are very few people I feel comfortable being myself around. Joi Joi was one of them.
And so. I spent the week leading up to Joi Joi’s funeral alternating between avoiding what and how I was feeling and then facing the pain head-on. Instead of doing the things that needed doing (like cleaning, laundry, cooking for work, etc), I did things that were better to do. Spending time with friends, playing with toddlers, chasing little ones around the park taking pictures for their mom, holding babies, cooking meals for friends, watching garden be created, praying. Lotsa praying. And some crying…ok, a lot of that, too.
The funeral was good. There were flowers for everyone to wear. People I hadn’t seen in far too long. Beautiful memories shared, wonderful songs played. The message was one of hope, not loss. Joi is in Heaven! Yes, she struggled. Do you feel guilty, like there was something you maybe could have done? Own those feelings – and release them to God. Don’t let them control you. It was what I was hoping for, but not what I was expecting.
At the end of the service I made the long trek back home and decided to go find some flowers for Joi Joi. I picked up my camera and headed to Long Lake Park for to see those walking trails laden with purples, oranges, whites and yellows. And bugs. There I said goodbye to Joi Joi again.
We always pray and give thanks to God for you. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God for you because we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus. We thank God for your love for all those who belong to Christ. We thank God for the hope that is being kept for you in heaven.
Colossians 1:3-5, NLV
Whenever I see these flowers I think of their name. Which makes me think of school shootings. Mostly, the Colorado one in 1999. I remember the stories of Cassie Bernall and later Rachel Scott. And then I think of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the brave acts that saved many little lives.
It makes my heart ache for the families who lost someone precious and for the children who will have the memory of death for the rest of their life. It makes me angry. It makes me pray.
Then I look at the flower again and think of life, how it is frail and beautiful and only lasts for a moment. Life lost too soon… death. It can claim any one of us at any moment.
Well, you’ve already met N, E, and C. These are from before Mother’s Day when we started work on some Super-Secret-Projects for Mother’s Day. Which were ready a couple weeks early. And were also made for a *really* early Father’s day (pictures at the end of this post).N wanted to be dressed up in her ball gown for the pictures. She was sooo excited to make a special project for her mom that was a secret!
E was very silly that day. She changed a few times and ended up in this outfit, a little ballerina!
C was diggin’ his sister’s shades and played with them for quite a while.
N was having fun telling E a story from the Zoo of Far Far Away with her horse and dolls. E had fun throwing her penguin up in the air and then jumping after it.
N and E are BIG into mermaids and princesses right now. And were VERY tired of all. the. snow.
Here are the Super-Secret-Projects made for King Daddy and Queen Mommy. Each girl picked out the colors and did the painting themselves. N did all her own gluing too. 🙂 They picked out C’s colors also.
For the past year, I have been thinking a lot about Leah, because I’m not particularly pretty. Yet, even though people did not find her attractive, God used her in such a HUGE way. It is through her son Judah that the line of King David was born and through this heritage that Jesus was born. Through someone who was not considered beautiful and who was not loved by her husband, God did great things through.
“‘No one loves me,’ Leah said. ‘I’m too ugly.’ But God didn’t think she as ugly. And when he saw that Leah was not loved and that no one wanted her, God chose her – to love her specially, to give her a very important job. One day, God was going to rescue the whole world – through Leah’s family. … You see, when God looked at Leah, he saw a princess.”
“[God’s people] wouldn’t need to be beautiful for him to love them. He would love them with all of his heart. And they would be beautiful because he loved them.”
When God realized that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb. But Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and had a son. She named him Reuben (Look-It’s-a-Boy!). “This is a sign,” she said, “that God has seen my misery; and a sign that now my husband will love me.”She became pregnant again and had another son. “God heard,” she said, “that I was unloved and so he gave me this son also.” She named this one Simeon (God-Heard). She became pregnant yet again—another son. She said, “Now maybe my husband will connect with me—I’ve given him three sons!” That’s why she named him Levi (Connect). She became pregnant a final time and had a fourth son. She said, “This time I’ll praise God.” So she named him Judah (Praise-God).