Our family recently returned from three incredible weeks vacationing in South Africa. It was the first time our grandchildren, Ava and Tylan, had been to South Africa, and for our children, seventeen years have elapsed since they had been home.
We had the most wonderful time going down memory lane. We showed Ava and Tylan where we had grown up and the homes and schools their mom and uncle had been to. We let them taste all the foods we had spoken about like biltong, boerewors, rusks and copious amounts of Cadbury's chocolates. We all enjoyed reminding our palates of those delicious delicacies.
We went to visit Africa School of Missions and told our grandchildren the miraculous story of that ministry. One of the highlights of the trip was a safari, where we chased lion, leopard, rhino and saw a host of other wild animals. Our grandchildren were in their element every single moment of every day.
We went to the mountains and then spent some amazing days catching up with the Alexander family on Ashbrook farm. We made more wonderful memories and shared lots of old ones too. Our grandchildren met cousins and second cousins and there were many tears when they had to say goodbye. But they learned the importance of family.
We travelled countless hours in the car inhaling the breathtaking beauty of our homeland and ending in the beautiful Cape. A lovely moment was when we were all in the van on our way to preach in Hermanus with the early morning sun rising over the vineyards. The amber hues were reflecting off the drops of liquid dew still on the grape vines with the earth covered in soft pastel shades. Tylan, who is seven-years-old, looked out the window and kept saying, "Wow, wow, wow". Even a small child can be awed at God's beautiful world.
We have come back with so many amazing memories and every time I look at the photo's our son-in-law, Rich took I am filled with gratitude. You never see Rich in any photo's because he is the photographer. All the photo's in this blog are credited to him, except the one below. He hadn't joined our family at the time of Jay's accident. But he is now part and parcel of our family in every way.
Two days ago we celebrated a memory that is joyous and lamentable all at once. It is the story of our son's accident some sixteen years ago. Every year on the 1st of July we pause to thank God for giving Jay back to us. Many of you know his story, but if you don't you can read it in my book, Wild Hope: A Memoir. It is sad, amazing and miraculous all at once. It is a memory that will never be erased from my memory box.
There are times we want to erase memories because they are so painful. But memories are powerful and they are important. Here are three reasons why.
Memories... good and bad remind us that we are survivors: You are still here. You can look back and remind yourself of the strength you had to get from that place to where you are now. Good memories conjure up good feelings that make us thankful and even the bad memories are reasons to be thankful...that we made it, we are still here, we came through our ordeal.
Memories... good or bad can help us in our future decision making: We have to learn from our experiences. Hurtful experiences are not always great to recall, but what you can remind yourself of is that you have learned from that particular experience. When the memory hits you again, you not only remember the bad or pain, you can remind yourself of what it has produced in you.
Memories... good or bad remind us of the capacity of our minds: Yes, you can remember and that is a blessing even if it causes pain. But think of all the good memories that bring you joy. You can choose to focus on those memories and let the sad memories be a guide for you in your future decisions.
So, the past few days have been days filled with happy, sad, memories. They both serve their purpose and they both conjure feelings of gratitude to an incredible God who blessed me and gave me joy-filled family times but also saw me through the absolute worst time of my life. I am filled with joyous lament.
I am and always will be,
recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,