Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tell About It Tuesday -- While We're Waiting Weekend for Bereaved Parents

Ephesians 3:20-21 says, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen."

I posted that Scripture after our very first While We're Waiting Weekend for Bereaved Parents, and I just had to post it again after our fourth one, because nothing could more adequately capture my feelings about this event.

We had our largest group ever, and what an amazing group of Moms and Dads it was.  Every group has its own personality, and this one was no different.  These were some of the bravest folks I've ever met.  Five of our couples/singles had lost their children within the last ten months ... and one of these was only seven weeks out.  One single Mom came without knowing a single soul.  One couple flew across the country to be a part of the weekend.  See what I mean?  These people were brave.

I'm not going to share the stories of their children.  The stories shared at While We're Waiting Weekends are sacred.  But these stories were told through tears and even occasional smiles, as parent after parent introduced us to their child, and then shared how they came to be with Jesus.  Among a group of parents who could uniquely understand, they shared their struggles and their victories upon the road of grief.  They were encouraged, prayed for, and loved on.

Our conversations were rich and meaningful.  There was no small talk.  Who has time for small talk when there are issues of eternal significance to discuss?  A few comments really stood out to me, and I wrote them down...
  • "I've been a believer more than half my life, but now I'm an experiencer."
  • "I thought that it wasn't normal to experience peace after my loss ... but then I realized that the peace of God isn't normal."
  • "The final piece has been put into the puzzle -- My son's puzzle is complete."
  • "As long as the sun is on my face and I can feel the wind, I know God is with me."
  • And from a dad who accepted Christ after the death of his daughter -- "What's sixty years here on earth without her compared to an eternity in Heaven with my daughter?"
My favorite quote of the weekend may have come from Donna May (aka "Mama May").  She said, "God says, 'I want you to be strong, but you don't have to be stronger than Me.'"  I needed to hear that one.

As always, the weekend is best illustrated through pictures, so here you go.  

Family Farm is a beautiful place any time of year, but I think it's particularly gorgeous in the fall.  So inviting ... 

Each parent brings a photograph of their child to share.  Look at these beautiful kids ...

Things kicked off Friday evening with dinner.  Some sweet ladies from Mountainside Methodist in Hot Springs Village came and decorated our tables and served us a delicious dinner.

 After some sharing time on Friday evening and a rousing Pickleball match, we all headed to bed.  We were up bright and early the next morning for a delicious breakfast buffet, and some more sharing time.  Then it was time to head out to the barnyard to feed the animals.

Throughout the day, we took breaks from our sharing sessions by doing outdoor activities.  A few brave folks rode the country-style carousel ...

Nearly everybody tried out Slide Mountain ...

We even had one of our sessions outside, at Salvation Station ...

Saturday evening we had a special treat, when Chef Franklin Dye prepared a five-course gourmet meal for our enjoyment.  

The sweet ladies from Mountainside Methodist came back to wait on us and make us feel pampered...

If you've followed my blog for my while, you know I always have to post pictures of our dinner for all the "foodies" out there.  And the descriptions were provided by Chef Franklin ... no way could I come up with all of that on my own!

The appetizer was slices of potatoes with cubed potatoes, pepper jack cheese, bacon bits, sour cream and topped with pork rinds...

The salad was a bed of Romaine lettuce topped with tortilla chips, mesquite grilled shrimp, chorizo sausage, tomatoes, and finished with jalapeno ranch dressing...

The intermezzo is always my favorite part of the meal.  Well, that, and the dessert, of course.  This time it was tasty lemon sorbet on a lemon slice.

Our entree was red roasted potatoes with honey and mustard glazed pork loin, spaghetti vegetables of turnips, diakon, and carrots, with a balsamic glaze...

And our yummy dessert was cornmeal pie drizzled with caramel.  It tasted like pecan pie without the pecans, which is exactly how I like my pecan pie.  :)

With their permission, I'd like to share some comments from a few of the parents who attended:

"I was reluctant to attend because I didn't really know what to expect.  I'm very grateful that I did come.  I've gained so much knowledge and hope from this weekend.  I'm glad that I was able to come.  I am leaving with so much hope.  I know it will be difficult, but I have tools that will help me."

"Amazing weekend.  We were scared to death only being 7 weeks out from our son's journey to Heaven.  We had been in a complete fog -- emotions running wild.  While others tried to help, they had not experienced our pain.  But, getting here, seeing the evident love of others in our situation, listening to everyone's story really helped.  It was heart-wrenching, but awesome evidence of God's love for us.  Being around others in similar situations (however unfortunate) really helped and blessed us."

"Thanks for the opportunity to share and to see hope again and to laugh together, the opportunity to form friendships, and to see a bigger picture that weaves us all together."

"What an amazing ministry of love and service to others who are suffering such a unique loss.  This weekend was a step forward.  It opened the door to conversation and healing."

I'll close this post with a picture of our group.  I can't tell you what these people came to mean to me just over the course of a weekend.  I will never forget their children, and my life has been forever changed and enriched by the time we spent together.  

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