I am here by myself tonight, everybody went to the basketball game. I like to write when it is quite----I always pray God will take over my thoughts and words and take me where He wants me to go with this blog. With God's strength, I think we are healing some from our broken hearts---they were broken into a million pieces on August 15th, and yes, it will take a long time to put those pieces all back together, and no, they will never be put back just the way it was----we have all changed---we all have different priorities now--we are trying to build treasure that will not be burned by the fire, but will last in all eternity. In our Daniel bible study one of the questions was "When did you last hear something that dumbfounded you?" It took me less than a second to answer that question-----that terrible phone call from Jeff on that Saturday night---not only was I dumbfounded, I was completely flatten. I am sure God used this terrible tragedy for many reasons----to touch hearts--to change lives---but I had to ask myself, what God, do you want me to learn from something that actually knocked the wind right out of me and took me straight to the ground. As I look back-- what have I learned. I have learned that God will never take me places or through a fire that He is not right there with me to encourage and help me through, and need be, carry me at times. He will only give Grace for each day, never look ahead and think how will I ever get through that day---I found out--God has not yet given Grace for tomorrow, just for today-wake up each day and live it like it could be my last one here on earth, or maybe the last one for somebody that I love dearly----God is truly the only one that can comfort a broken heart---and just when I would think, I am going to die from a broken heart---God would grab me in a hug and pull me close to Him, either by His presents of His Spirit, or sometimes by phone calls, maybe an e-mail, or perhaps a comforting card in the mail---He was always faithful. Just for example, the last several days have been "down" days, just missing Tay a lot and feeling extremely sad, and today God had Ron call and encourage me. He is always a great encourager---he helps me to refocus my thoughts and feelings. Also, I got a really nice card from Doris in the mail. It is just and encouragement to know people are still being our prayer warriors. I had several other phone calls from friends, just wanting to know how I was doing and that they were still praying for us. I realize the things that use to stress me out---no longer matter. What matters the very most is my relationship with Jesus----because without Him I would have drowned in sorrow long ago. I know without a shadow of a doubt that no matter what lies ahead, God will be with me, and He will always equip me with the armor I will need to fight any battle---yes, I may come out with scars, but when i look at those scars I will remember where I have been and Who brought me through. In Psalms 57:10--it says "For great is Your love--reaching to the heavens: Your faithfulness reaches to the skies." I just had to sit back and think on this. I had to think just how far is heaven above the earth----some of the stars are light years away and we can still see them, we can't even comprehend how far it is----God's loves us so much, again, we can not even begin to wrap our minds around how much. We think we love our kids soooo much, nobody could love them more, but our love is not even in comparison to how much God loves each one of His children. His faithfulness reaches to the skies---I have seen and felt His faithfulness, but I am sure that is just a touch of the iceberg of how great His faithfulness really is---
This week had some tough moments, even the kids said this was a hard week----I am not sure why, it just was. I think our minds are letting in more and more that Taylor is really gone. One day, I just had to go upstairs and take out some of his shirts and just hold them in my hands. I took out a pair of his jeans and held them----I just stood there holding them and was thinking how can this really be true that Taylor will never be wearing any of this again---but then God just sorta whispered in my ear---Don't be sad, he is in a much better place---he does not need those clothes anymore.
I am going back now to the day of the Wayne County Fair. It was a very bittersweet day. It was warm and sunny. Diane's family, and all of us went to the fair in the morning. This was the day of the local tractor pull. Craig Marty was going to pull in Taylor's memory---he and some friends had spent many hours repainting the same tractor that Taylor had pulled the year before. I really did not want to even go to the fair, but Jeff thought we should since they were planning on reading a tribute in memory of Taylor before his class pulled. I knew this was going to be a day where I would spend most of it in tears, because I knew how much Taylor loved the fair---he would rush home from work, and quickly change clothes---sometimes not even time for a shower--and rush back out of the house for a night at the fair---he went every single night. One of his most favorite parts of the fair were the times he got to pull his tractor---so now I am suppose to go watch this, and not cry buckets--not possible. Diane, I and the kids went early because we wanted to hear the bands playing. We got there and soon walked over to the grandstand to listen the bands. April, Autumn came and sat with us. Pretty soon, Jeff comes over and says the tractor is now here, do you want to see it. I felt my stomach drop, because no really I did not want to see this tractor that had bit stickers on it that read "In Loving Memory of Taylor Gasser"-----more reality and my heart could not take any more----I felt tears very close, but really did not want to take to sobbing, because I knew if I gave in to those tears that were threatening to spill over, I would not be able to stop. We decided maybe it would be better to go see this tractor now , so when it was pulled it would not be the first time we seen it. The bands are playing---the drums are pounding---April even made the comment---maybe getting away from those drums would be a good thing. As we are walking across the field, we had to walk by the band that was playing-- it was so loud we could not even talk. As we get closer and closer to the tractor, i felt my heart getting sadder and sadder, if that was even possible. As we finally get across the field, and we are walking up to this tractor, i could not take it anymore,-- I just broke down and took to crying----I just knew how much Taylor would have loved this tractor and to have been able to pull it---it was painted a very bright and pretty red, looked like a new one, but looking at those big stickers on the sides, just knocked the breathe right out of me. As we all stood there with all our hearts aching and crying softly thinking about Tay and missing him horribly. Diane all of a sudden says----hey, what is that song the band is playing----we all stopped and listened for a few seconds, then April says, i think it is "Amazing Grace". No longer the loud drums, but the beautiful playing of Amazing Grace. This touched all of our hearts and I am not sure about anybody else, but I could not take any more and I once again took to sobbing-we all thought, just what are the chances that a high school bank would be playing Amazing Grace, and more spectacular yet, just at that precise moment--we just knew God was right there beside us---saying----I know your hearts are breaking, I am with you--I will carry you,---Just remember, Yes, I took Taylor but he is with me. It seemed like every time we would think we can not breathe another breath because our hearts were so broken---God would in some way remind us that He was right beside us and that Taylor was with Him. If you remembered Taylor was wheeled out of the church the day of his funeral on Amazing Grace (that was not the song we picked for Tay to to out on---but now we have seen over and over why God picked it. He has encouraged and strengthen us many times through this song. I always have loved Amazing Grace, but now it has taken on a whole new meaning when I hear it. Anyway as we stood there looking at that tractor and listening to Amazing Grace being played, God once again was my great Comforter. I just knew God will get me through this day----even if He had to carry me the entire day. As i remember right, I think that is just what happened---i was in the arms of Jesus that whole day. I think we took at least a hundred pictures of that tractor and us standing by it. We decided to walk around the fair for a while, because the pull did not start for several hours. As Diane and I were walking by the pork loin station, Lisa came over and said, I want you to meet somebody. She said this lady has lost 3 of her 8 kids, and she has made it through the valley of grief, not once but three time and she is joyful in the Lord. Of course, I wanted to meet her---I was thinking, how could anyone lose three kids and not be bitter, or at the very least extremely sad. When i saw her, the first thing I noticed was the love shining through her eyes. She hugged me and cried with me--I knew she felt my pain, but she had something i wanted---I knew it was not going to be today, but someday I wanted what she had---she had what God said He would do---"I will turn your mourning into gladness, give you comfort and joy, instead of sorrow" I knew she made it through the valley of grief. Quickly, her story. A 19 year old son was killed in an accident, 15 year old son--died quickly from an illness, 30 something year old son died of a long devastating illness---she watched him die inch by inch, but through it all---she loved Jesus with all her heart. When i asked just how did you make it---with tears in her eyes, all she did was point up to Jesus. She was a real testimony to me---she took no credit of her own, she knew it was all by the Grace of God---even though, I had cried already buckets of tears this day, I had to cry a few more, but I knew that if I kept my eyes focused on Jesus, He would take me step by step, moment by moment through this very deep valley.
Now, it was time to go back over to the grandstand to watch the tractor pull. Actually, I could not wait until this day was over, the sadness was almost overwhelming, but knew God would help me through--He always says He will give Grace where Grace is needed--and I was in big need of that now. We are all sitting up in the grandstand---all of us, plus all of Max's and their kids. It was a beautiful afternoon, sun shining, warm, people cheering for each puller. I knew they were going to read a tribute for Taylor right at the beginning of his class---I was getting to the point of just wishing it would hurry up and get here---so it could be over. About half way through the class before his, they started to announce that all the mechanic kids that were in Tay's class and the ones that already graduated to come down and start to line the track in front of the grandstand----I was starting to feel that bubble of emotion getting ready to erupt in my chest. I thought please God, don't let me lose it here. About this time, Spencer gets a tex from one of Taylor's friends that was standing on the line, wanting us to come down as a family and stand with them. I thought, I can not do this---I am sure my knees are going to buckle. Diane say, I think you really should go down there with Jeff, Brooke and Spencer---you will probably be sorry if you choose not to. I knew she was right, so I did go down with them. Now, it is time for Taylor's class to pull---Jeff, Me, Brooke and Spencer are standing right in front of the grandstand---there are boys lined up on both sides of us along the track. We are hanging on tightly to each other as the announcer starts to read the tribute we wrote up for Tay. We are all sobbing almost uncontrollably all the way through the tribute---it was all so Taylor, and all I could think about was how much he would have loved to been here pulling on such a pretty afternoon and he was never going to be able to do this again. After the announcer read the tribute, he had everybody stand in the grandstand for a moment of silence. As I looked up and seen everybody standing with most having their heads bowed, I lost it, but then we all pretty much did---even alot in the crowd were crying. After a few minutes of silence while all were still stand, Craig (the one pulling in Taylor's memory), slowly drove this tractor down the track, I was sobbing so hard by now, i could barely stand, but like I said, we were hanging on to each other--trying to hold each other up, if we had not been, I am sure we all would have been a nice big puddle on the ground. Even as i sit here and write this, tears are running down my cheeks. I am hoping like they said in our Grief share, each time you revisit a very painful episode a little bit of healing takes place---I certainly hope that is true. This was a very nice tribute for Tay, but also extremely painful. After the tribute, we did stay and watched until Craig was done pulling. Again we went over to where he was and thanked him, and of course cried a few more tears on his shoulder. We took more pictures, then we started to head to the car. I have to say many, many people did stop and talk with me, and tried to encourage me, but this day was a day, where the only thing that was beginning to look comforting was my pillow. The thing that will stick in my mind forever about this day is how God very mercifully had the band play Amazing Grace at exactly the perfect moment. It just showed his presence so clearly. Even though the day was extremely painful---filled with memories of Tay---I knew deep in my heart what Isa: 43:2 says was going to be true "When I pass through the waters, I (GOD)will be with you. When I pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over me. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned."
This day has been almost exactly four months ago---and yes, when I revisit the memories of that day, they still make me cry and are very painful, but i have also seen how God has brought a measure of healing to my heart and for that I am very thankful.