Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why Would He Be?


They tumble, faster and faster, overtaking, rolling us in like a tumbleweed. Our breath comes quickly, our hands reach out for a firm grasp, our eyes try desperately to focus on something, anything.

This week has just rolled us in and pushed us frantically ahead. Life in a small town has its’ dull moments, but this is not one of them.

My husband, a minister, must prepare two funerals this week. Today was the first, for a woman he knew in his growing up years; and he was up early, turning on the heat in the building, meeting with the funeral home and the family of the woman. There were meals to prepare, and family members to hug while smiling into their eyes.

Now tomorrow, he begins writing another funeral sermon. For a man he knew his entire life; who was a fixture in this small town as sure as the goat-heads that stick in your bike wheels. Tom. With his crooked back and gentle smile. A simple man, who came to love the Lord late, but faithful. So faithful.

Sunday morning, we had the privilege of welcoming twenty visitors in our small church building, bringing the grand total to forty. Hearts were light, spirits giddy as we reveled in the joy that comes from fellowship.
And Sunday evening, as we stood in the hallway visiting and laughing, Tom shook Kevin’s hand.
“It was just a real nice service this morning, Kevin, I want you to know that. We all got along just like…like…” And at his loss of words for a comparison, his wife, Claudia, hooked her arm through his and leaned on his shoulder, declaring, “Like peanut butter and honey!”

I don’t know why this drew my attention, but I found myself marveling at the light in her eyes, and the way he looked down at her and laughed. Married for almost sixty years, and she, with her red hair and always complimentary green eye shadow, captured his heart still.

We said good night, not good-bye. And oh, how I wish we had.

The tumbleweeds began to quiver as the wind blew through them.

Monday morning, Tom had a stroke at the breakfast table, and Claudia, always our prayer chain starter, called me with a shake in her voice. And as I stood with pencil poised, she told me that it was Tom who was in the ambulance, and she was following.

The tumbleweeds crept forward, the wind at their backs.

Kevin left immediately, and I started the prayer chain, then began school with the children, waiting anxiously for a call. Hoping, of course, to hear that everything was going to be fine. But the only one I received said it was not going to be fine, and Tom’s family was trying to get there as fast as they could, to say goodbye before time was up.

Kevin arrived home, weary, and then left again to meet with the woman's family for the first funeral.

The tumbleweeds picked up speed.

Tuesday, I tried to hold things together at home as Kevin made the hour and a half drive to be at Tom’s side again, but I felt the panic creeping in. The boys had terrible colds, and my heart was heavy for my husband; the week he was facing, and the loss as well.

And when he called, with tears in his voice, the tumbleweeds swept us in and blew away.

We haven’t been able to grip anything as we fly by. I can’t focus on Claudia without Tom. Our breath catches in our throats, and we cannot find our air.

But even as I tumble, I feel His breath. “I am not in the wind.”

Life Sustainer. Provider. Shepherd. Bringer of Peace.

He is not in the wind.

I don’t know why I thought He would be.

Peace is a Person. Not just a place.

22 fellow travelers shared:

Anonymous said...

Oh Elise. Can I just come over and hug you???? I can barely type through my tears for you, your family, your town. What a beautiful memory you have shared.

At some point, you should really print this off and give it to Claudia - it would bless her.

You are in my heart. Heavy in my heart. I will lift you to the throne of our Sweet Lord tonight in prayer as I lay down. Hmmmm. And Claudia. Sweet, Claudia. I can't even begin to imagine.

deb said...

Elise, you made the readers of your blog feel that we're right there with you experiencing this same loss. Thanks for sharing this story so we'll know how to pray for Claudia and for your family.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...


Peace is something I need a deep dose of in my day. It might come in the form of something unexpected. Thank you for reminding me.

Randi said...

This is so touching, Elise. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and also Claudia. It is so sad when a spouse loses their beloved, but I do know that God will take that place in her life from now on--He will sustain her.

Kari Z. Murphy said...

No words, Elise. Plenty of tears. But no words.

I'm reminded the Holy Spirit intercedes for us in groans when we know not what to pray. Groaning for you, your family, Claudia, her family, and all those grieving.

In Christ alone,

Stacy said...

Oh, Elise.
I am praying for these ones who have lost those who have gone ahead to be with Jesus. I can't imagine how Claudia must ache for Tom.
And I'll pray for Kevin, too-- as he shepherds this little flock in the midst of times like these.
And for your boys- may God bring tender healing.
Love to your family,

QueenHeroical said...

Praying that Peace prevails, as we know he will.


Beka said...

Sending many prayers and an e-hug your way...
This was such a touching post. May God comfort and give peace today.

Sandy said...

You showed deep empathy through your words. Peace to me is when I let go of the habit of worrying, and give it to God.
Thank you for sharing. I just found your blog.

Cindi said...

Oh, to be peanut butter and honey! How lovely a description of their married life.

bluemountainmama said...

beautiful tribute to tom and claudia.... it makes me feel as if i know them and it makes my heart ache. may God bring much peace and comfort to them...

Andrea said...

I read that post at "Sacred Everyday". I have been thinking of that term, "Peace is a Person" as well.

Wow, what a week you've had. I know the feeling well, the feeling of you yourself feeling "heavy of heart" for your husband.

It's posts like these that make us really need to embrace the "Present gift" as you say.

Anonymous said...

Tumbleweeds and wind, but "I am not in the wind."

A picture I won't forget. Thank you, Elise.

tonia said...


...praying for you tonight...

Me said...

Your last two posts are beautiful. This one, even it its sorrow, celebrates redemption and the paths made straight.

The winds will slow back to a gentle breeze again...the tumbleweed will lodge against a fence or a building. The still small voice will be clearer and stronger for the memory of the wind.

Lyn said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers, my friend.


Mrs. S said...

Elise ...
I thought I posted a comment, but I was scrolling through and didn't see it, so I guess I didn't.

What I thought I said was that your post was a true testimony of the beauty of love and the pain of loss. I feel like I met Tom and Claudia through your words. You and your husband have such a ministry there. I pray that God will give you his peace in this hard time, my friend.

I have written you all in my prayer journal.

Audrey said...

Oh Elise, I am so sorry you are having to walk through this. It can be so hard. I will pray for strength for you and your hubby, and for that precious Claudia.

How blessed we are to be walking in the Spring of our lives, for the Season of winter will surly come.

Thank you so much for your words of encouragment, you have a such a sweet spirit!


Christine said...

Praying for your family, both home and church, today. What a beautiful tribute.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Beautiful word pictures, Elise. He is our peace. It's beyond our understanding. May you sense it in a special way with your church family during this time.

Debi said...

Elise....praying for you and knowing He will be all that He has promised as you keep looking unto Him. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

I came here to say that Chris Rice played here in the living room right after lunch. My brother sent him home from church with us on a CD. He sang while I served the plates with Sunday dinner fare, and, in my mind, I danced with Elise, us singing Jesus' praise.

And here I step into your whirlwind week. Tears and wind, and whipping tumbleweed. And our Peace keeping us in Perfect Peace because our mind is stayed on Him--no matter the roar of the wind.

Let's still dance, Elise. Praising Him even in the storm.

Sending my love, (((Elise))). And prayers for Peace.

All is grace,

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