Monday, January 10, 2011

The Last Journal Entry

Dear Meredith,

It's that time of year when I write in all the children's books. I hope you don't mind just printing and pasting this last entry into your journal since I gave the book to you already. It was just too hard to write the final entry before you left.

My life-long dream for you came true just one month ago as you became a wife. What joy awaits you in this new season of your life! A husband to love, a place of your own, maybe children one day - this is the beginning of the finest years ever.

As we continue to be amazed at the wonderful husband God gave you, Daddy and I are at complete peace saying good bye as we have assurance beyond a shadow of doubt that Stephen is God's choice for you. Stephen's desire to live a life pleasing to the Lord is surely his greatest defining characteristic and the one that brings us, as your parents, the greatest joy.

Remember how we used to wonder how and when and if God would send a husband for you? You were so focused on allowing God to write your story in His own way while you watched others around you marry and begin families. I admire the way you remained cheerful and busied yourself in serving your family during those waiting years.

I'll never forget the Sunday when you first told me about Stephen as we were driving together to deliver milk. Like a silly school girl I remember saying that you really needed Daddy's guidance because in my mind's eye, I could already visualize the wedding with you in your beautiful dress and "this Stephen guy" in his military uniform! I never imagined that my ramblings would one day become a reality.

Remember how exciting it was when he came to meet us and spend several days with our family? We wondered if Stephen would end up just being a new friend or if possibly he was "the one." I recently came across the pictures I was secretly taking from the upstairs windows of you two walking around the farm, talking to each other in person for the first time.

After Daddy and Stephen returned from one of several lengthy discussions during that first visit, and Daddy began telling me some of Stephen's answers to the 16 or 17 page typed questionnaire that Daddy had been using to guide their conversations, I could tell that a peace was settling over Daddy.

Eventually Daddy gave his blessing for Stephen to pursue courtship and marriage. I admire you for your humble attitude in asking another man - your dad - to assess a potential spouse. In the same way you would ask for Dad's opinion on real estate purchases, you did not hesitate to seek his wisdom in the area of choosing a mate. Only the strong subject themselves to the counsel of others. You, Meredith, are very strong indeed to have cut completely across the grain of society and defer to the wisdom of an older man in making such an important decision as to whom you might marry.

I am equally impressed by the way both you and Stephen began your relationship. I remember you had a list of the things that you wanted in a husband. Stephen shared with you what he wanted in a wife. Only once you were both sure those requirements would be met mutually did you allow yourselves to consider moving forward. How mature! How sensible. What an incredible foundation for your marriage.

A courtship turned into an engagement that quickly became a wedding date which turned the farm upside down!

This last year seemed to be almost completely focused on preparing for the wedding. Pages of projects needing to be completed were part of all our lives. What fun we had as we spent countless hours planning and dreaming and working to pull it all together!

A friend drew this picture of the farm as we dreamed it would look for the wedding.

We talked often about wanting the wedding day to be a blessing to others. I hope it was. It all felt like a such a flurry of activity that I barely remember any of the details. Once it was over and Oma and I began cleaning the house while Dad and the boys went out for milking, I missed you being here to talk about the memories that were made on the big wedding day that we had been planning for almost a year.

Even though we worked late into the night and were as tired as we've ever been, we sure were looking forward to you and Stephen stopping by Sunday afternoon on your way to your honeymoon destination. Although no one could have prepared us for how sad that short visit would be. It was as if Sheridan finally understood that you were really leaving and her little heart broke. When she held out her hands to you, begging you not to leave her, like a little child being left at a daycare center, we all cried.

Although Sheridan never comes downstairs after being tucked in at night, we weren't surprised when she tiptoed down the steps to our room at 1am. Rather than worry about fostering what might become a bad habit, Daddy and I just pulled her up in bed between us, knowing that she was missing you sleeping next to her.

Poor Dad missed you so badly that he went around the house choked up and with red eyes the Monday after the wedding and only muttered phrases like, "Meredith lived with us more than half of my life," or "She was with us for almost our entire marriage."

God was so gracious to hold off the snow until the day after the wedding.

Harrison said that he heard one of your favorite Christmas songs playing in the barn as he was going to feed the calves and thought he'd have to stop riding his bike for a minute because he felt so sad.

You'd be glad to know that as much trouble as he always gave you as his chore supervisor, he now is singing your praises and wishing you'd return to your position instead of his new demanding chore captain (me)!

I suppose everyone is shifting into their new positions to fill the gap you left behind. Elliott, knowing how much it means to me to see our friends' Christmas photos on the fridge, put them up as they arrived in the mail, just like you used to do. On a recent drive to Denny's for the free weekly meals we won, I asked everyone what they missed most about you being gone as our drive-time topic of discussion. Elliott quickly said, "Meredith's bread!" I'm sure you'd be as surprised as I was when Daddy and I were gone for a while the other day and returned home to find two freshly baked loaves of bread that Elliott made!

Filling your position has been a real challenge for me as the demands of the farm remain constant. The last day of chicken processing for the season was the worst as I rushed around the house trying to prepare lunch before heading outside to help that morning with the chickens - knowing we'd be coming in late, tired, and hungry hours later. On the kitchen counters were still bags of the non-perishable groceries from the late night trip to the store the night before. Then, as if it were some type of endurance test, the boys brought in four cases of milk jars needing washing and several weeks' worth of dirty cow towels. Whew! Somehow it all got done though.

Christmas was, of course, very different without you here but we were filled with joy as we began hearing about the fun, new life you were living as a newlywed. Stephen's family was so very kind to you over Christmas that we could only be happy for you to be loved by a whole new family.

Friends from all over, who knew what a treasure you were in our home, have sent us the kindest notes and have said they were praying for us during the transition time.

Alison Wilson so thoughtfully gave this to me to remember the love that a mother and daughter share.

Sheridan is slowly adjusting to sleeping alone and has found many new friends to surround her at bedtime. You can't imagine how long it takes us to get all these babies tucked in. Only Sheridan knows where each one prefers to sleep each night.

Sheridan would be disappointed to know that one of her baby's covers (far right) has come off during the night.

I suppose the transition of you being gone has been harder than we imagined because you were such a good friend to all of us. You've cheered us on when we were discouraged and you've chosen to see the better side in each of us. Rather than pursuing ventures that would have enabled greater self-advancement and independence like outside employment, on-campus college courses, and social networking, you chose to serve your family instead. You prepared meals, taught Bible verses to little ones, washed laundry, delivered milk, bushhogged lots, and countless other tasks. What a gift you were to our family!

So now I write the last page of the journal that was started for you when I was but a teenager hoping to one day be a wife and a mother. What a wonderful journey this has been. How blessed I am to have had you to spend my days with. How incredibly content I am to see you securely placed into the hands of such a fine man as Stephen. What joy I have as your mother to know that you will be cared for by a man with such outstanding character and with a strong desire to follow God. The two of you, who you are and who you're becoming, represent hope for a brighter world. May God do mighty things in your life as a couple surrendered and committed to doing His will. We, as your family, will enjoy seeing you both
live happily ever after.

I love you, Meredith!

Your happy Mama


Where the Acorns Fall said...

Thank you for sharing that which the Lord has given and is doing through your family. We are delighted when we see a "new post" from your farm. You only know our family from the few times we have visited on a "farm tour" day. You have blessed us in opening your lives for others to learn how the Lord has abundantly provided for the needs in your home. Thank You. Candi

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful last entry for Meredith~ thanks for sharing it with us!


Hannah said...

I know Meredith will cherish your journal for her and the way you wrapped it up. It is sweet to see your family's love for each other. I can imagine how tough the transition would be! Off to bed I go all choked up....:)