So much is changing so fast.  I’m a wife now, with a new name and a new life.  Looking at the timeline of the past two weeks, it is evident just how faithful God is in the middle of my stress and confusion. 

On Friday, March 18, my parents and I traveled to JD’s home state to visit with his family and have a small ceremony at his grandparents’ home; they are too ill to be able to make the five-hour car trip to where our March 26 wedding was.  We all fell exhaustedly into bed at around 1:00 Saturday morning with plans to have the grandparents’ ceremony around 11 the next morning.

At 7:00 Saturday morning, Mother bumped on the door saying, “We need to get your dad to the hospital.  It’s his heart–something’s wrong with his heart. He’s hurting.” 

My initial reaction was disbelief.  Surely Dad–ever the pratical jokester–was trying to pull some prank in retaliation to the “wedding” we would have later that day. 

And then I looked out the front window and saw him standing there alone in the driveway, facing away from the house, and knew she wasn’t joking.   JD’s dad drove both of my parents to a local hospital, and JD, his mom and I hit our knees in the living room.

I’m so thankful for JD’s parents, for the deacon in their church who came to visit “just because,” for the precious nurses who looked after my dad.  We had some frightened moments worrying about his heart, but the Lord was kind to us.  Dad has some small blood clots in his lungs resulting from the long trip from India.  He’ll be on blood thinners for a while and is having to give himself shots, but all is well.

In the middle of all of the confusion, Dad was well enough on Sunday afternoon to perform a small ceremony in the hospital garden over JD and me.  There, in the presence of God, both sets of parents, a pond full of koi fish, a family of Latinas, and Jim’s grandparents streamed in via Skype, he declared us (legally, but not officially) husband and wife.  My mother stood through the entire ceremony with her arm wrapped tightly around my waist.  Little did I know how much that would mean to me later.

On Monday afternoon, the hospital discharged my dad and cleared him to make the seven-hour car trip home.  We pulled into my neighborhood around midnight, exchanged hugs, and Mother and Dad continued the rest of the way to their home.  They stumbled in around 1:30 Tuesday morning and fell exhaustedly into bed.

At 2:35 pm on Tuesday afternoon, I received a (broken-voiced) call from my brother asking if I had heard from Dad.  All he knew was that Mom was having some kind of seizure.  I agreed to pray, but both of us thought perhaps her blood sugar had bottomed out from not eating as she should have for several days. 

At 3:02 pm, he called me back to tell me that Mom had, had a hemorrhage in her brain and they were taking her to intensive care.

Mercifully, I don’t remember much about that afternoon.  I do remember a lot of tears and a lot of hugs.  So many friends reached out to comfort and to pray with me.  JD came to pick me up from work and take me home, where I threw some clothes in a bag and we began the drive to my parents’ hometown.  At JD’s suggestion, we turned the music up as loud as we could stand it and sang at the top of our lungs the entire way.

There were so many familiar faces in the waiting room when JD and I arrived.  Random details have stayed with me–the voice of a friend on the other end of the phone saying, “Hang on honey…we’re going militant.  We’re meeting tonight just for you to pray;” the faces of friends who drove hours to be there for us; the chubby arms of my nephews around my neck; the surreal hush walking through the ICC to Mother’s dim room.  I remember sitting up in my bed at 1:00 that first morning, afraid to waste time sleeping when I could be praying; and I remember getting on facebook at that time to find person after person still assuring me they were praying, even at that hour.  I remember kneeling in the floor of my room with Mother’s theme song playing, trying to worship but crying too hard to get the words out.  I remember the dear friend who called me at 6:00 that morning, somehow knowing I was awake, and stayed on the phone with me for two hours in prayer and comfort. 

Neither my brother nor I could keep our cell phone batteries charged over the next few days.  At this point, I am unsure of how many calls and texts came from all over the world of people checking on us and checking on Mother.  We had to take my dad’s phone away from him to force him to rest and take care of himself.  How humbled I am at the love we continue to receive.

Mother spent five days in Intensive Care.  There, she continued to be a light and a minister to those around her, praying in the Spirit, quoting Scripture, and singing “Alpha and Omega” with us in three-part harmony.  She has little to no memory of that now.  She does remember getting to be part of my wedding on March 26 via an iPad2 that my brother kindly carried around througout the ceremony; and she was able to speak to us and to the congregation at the wedding thanks to this technology.

I don’t know where to begin to thank people for their kindness in helping the wedding go together at the last minute without her–from the aunts who whisked me away for a manicure/pedicure, took over making the fudge and cheeseballs, and put together a beautiful display of fruit and crackers; to the friends who made me a fun veil to wear at my rehearsal, worked out the internet streaming issues so that Mom could be part of the ceremony (there are no words), decorated the sanctuary and reception area, and ran errands so that I could be at the hospital two-hours away the morning before the wedding and hear from Mom’s doctor for myself.   And that doesn’t even begin to thank my in-laws for all the work they put into making it a beautiful day.  I have a list of thank-you notes I need to write as long as my arm.  “Thank you” seems so hollow.

Now, Mother is in rehab therapy and Dad is almost to the level he needs to be so that he can stop giving himself daily injections.  My amazing husband continues to take so much stress away from me, and spent the majority of yesterday with my mother so that Dad could be at a doctor’s appointment.  My house (slowly) is coming back to a semblance of order, and I’ve dug my way down through two weeks’ of work (finally) to see my desk again.  Little by little, I’m beginning to see the first vestages of my new normal.  And it’s beautiful.

I’m amazed at the kindness of friends, the gentle patience of my brother, the tender love of my husband, the kindness and grace of my father, the warm concern of my in-laws, the faithful prayers of so many of our family and friends.  God is so kind to us that we never walk through things alone.   He is faithful to His Word!  He renews our strength, and His mercies are new every morning!  He is the God who is near to us–He daily bears our burdens on His strong shoulders!  Standing here, a little over two weeks from the day life started going to pieces, I can sing with a smile that it is well with my soul.  No matter what happens as it rains on the just and the unjust, Jesus will never leave or forsake us. 

Whatever situation you’re facing, He’s there beside you just waiting to hear you talk to Him.  And He works ALL things for our good!

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4 Responses to Recapping

  1. Cindy Gordon says:

    Wow is all I call say. He does work things for the good of those who love Him (even the bad things)
    You need to write a book about all of this. I wish the whole world could see how God has used you and your family to glorify Him!

  2. Reine Gnade says:

    What a mighty blessing you are to us, Chrystal. May God continue to pour out His life-restoring-love on your parents and bless JD and you with great joy and spiritual fruit in your marriage and ministry!

  3. Dee Sapp says:

    So beautifully written. Wow. Thanks for your post. It sure helps the many that love yall. Blessings sweet bride and to your groom, Jim -He is a gem.

  4. Robin says:

    Princess, I’ve been quiet and haven’t posted responses, but thanks to your Facebook upates, I’ve been praying for you and for your parents. What blessings you all have had in the diversity, what victories you all have had in the challenges. Your faithfulness, your resolve, your commitment to bowing before our King in prayer is an example to everyone and allows God to keep his loving arms around each of you, offering comfort and peace. My prayers continue for your family, for your mother’s healing.

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