Wow...it's been a week of highs and lows...thankfully, more highs than lows! We made it through the first three days of school okay, but everything seemed to kind of catch up with us by Friday evening. Going back to school was actually more difficult than we had thought it would be, especially for Brad and Bethany, I think. Brad has been Hannah's principal for the last two years, and always enjoyed getting a quick hug from her in the hall between classes and visiting with her and her friends at lunch. Seeing all of her friends and not seeing her has been difficult for him. Of course, the situation was the same when he went back to work in March, but it's just a matter getting back into that "new normal" again.
Bethany and Hannah had always looked forward to this school year...this would have been the first and only year that they would have been in the same building together since they are three grades apart. They had even planned to take a class together (Yearbook) since that class is open to all grade levels at the same time. Well, Bethany decided to go ahead and take Yearbook this year. She sat down in her seat on Friday, glanced to her right, and saw this:
If you look carefully, you can see, "Hannah hearts you!" This table that Bethany was sitting beside was covered with grafitti from former students. She started looking it over, and found this:
She recognized Hannah's handwriting immediately, and knew that these words had been written by her sister. It hit her hard, and she was really sad about it for awhile after she got home that afternoon. After talking it over, though, we decided that Hannah had written that message to her, without even knowing she was doing it. Whenever Hannah doodled in her notebooks, scrap paper, youth sermon notes, etc., she often wrote, "Hannah hearts you"...I knew that she did that before she died, and I've found it written in many places as I've gone through some of her things since her death. I had always kind of chuckled at it and wondered who "you" was...well, we've decided she was writing it to each of us. It's kind of fun to think that she was writing notes for us to treasure without even realizing she was doing it. We decided to go up to the school Sunday afternoon (Yes, it helps to know the principal!) and take these pictures.
Saturday morning, Brad and I had the privilege of speaking at a small church in Mabelvale, and met some wonderful folks there. And then, yesterday morning, we were able to share God's goodness through Hannah's story at our home church, Hot Springs Baptist. Our church has really been the hands, arms, and feet of Christ to us over the past 18 months, and it was wonderful to be able to share with them what God has been doing in our lives.
This weekend, we also went to a concert at First Baptist Church of Benton, that included contemporary Christian singers Mac Powell (of Third Day), Mark Hall (of Casting Crowns), Aaron Shust, and several other up and coming artists. Those of you who have followed Hannah's story from the beginning may remember that someone in Mark Hall's church in Atlanta had received some of our emails and had passed them along to him. So he knew of Hannah's prayer for a storm, and how meaningful the song "Praise You in the Storm" was to us. He called us when we were in the hospice center, four days before Hannah went to Heaven, just to encourage and pray with us. He has continued to follow Hannah's story since then. After the concert, he was gracious enough to visit with us a few minutes. It was great to be able to thank him personally for the encouragement that we have received from several of Casting Crowns' songs.
That's all for today...please continue to pray for us. Even though we know without a shadow of a doubt that Hannah is in Heaven and having a better time than we can even imagine, we still miss her. Even though we have a deep down peace, our emotions are still real, and we still struggle at times. I think that over the next few posts, I will try to describe what some of these emotions have been like for us.