Sunday, February 07, 2016

7 Years and Newness

Seven years after my husband's death, I live a new life now in North Jersey, just a few minutes outside NYC. It seems apropos that my church, Maranatha Grace Fort Lee is celebrating it's 6th anniversary on Feb. 7th. My husband died on Feb. 7, 2009, just one year before Maranatha's birth. The shared date seems like a kind of resurrection for me. When I became a Christian at 12 years old, I prayed that the Lord would provide a church that would be a family to me and that I could go to freely and serve at. When I was 18, the Lord picked me up and brought me 3,000 miles away to Grace on Campus at UCLA, an incredible fulfillment of 6 years of prayer. After I graduated, I lived all over the place, but always a homesickness aching in my chest. I got so used to the ache, it no longer occurred to me that moving back to NJ would do the trick. Besides, what church would I go to? But eventually, as a single mom desperate for family support, I finally did move back to NJ. And someone from Grace on Campus (GOC), though she graduated years after I did, left a comment on a blog post to visit the church plant that she and a bunch of others from GOC were a part of. This church embraced me from day 1 and cared for me as if I were family. This church was 15 minutes away from the house that I grew up praying since I was 12 years old for a church family. I finally feel more at home than I ever have in my life. The homesick ache is finally gone. I finally live near my family and have a church that is my family as well. I remember I wrote in a survey in college that my dream place to live would be where my family and Grace on Campus were in the same place. I have never experienced such a deep sense of community since Grace on Campus until I came to Maranatha. It is amazing to me that the Lord made what seemed only existed in a fantasy so many years ago a real place, though I had nothing to do with it coming about. My family and my church family are now only 15 minutes apart.

I wish everyone who knows me now could have known Andrew Mark, the person who shaped me and taught me so much. I wish they could have known the father of my kids, who together with me laughed at and enjoyed them when they were little (not my size) and irresistibly adorable.
So at the very least, I'd like to share this three minute video of us back when the sun was shining down on us. When the world was all as it should be. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

A video of my interior world for the first year after Andrew died:

I've lived so many places now. At GOC, I fell in love with Andrew Mark. That was the last place I felt like people knew us as individuals. In WA we were the newlyweds. And then in Minnesota, we were the family with the young husband who has tongue cancer. And then I was known as the sad young widow. Now back in NJ, at my church (of 1.5 years), Maranatha Grace Fort Lee, they know me simply as Grace. She has two kids who are pretty much as big as her. But she's just one of us, or so the twenty-somethings treat me. It's funny, here in the Northeast, 80 percent of NYC is single. People's priority is their career. They get married much later. So the idea that in other parts of the country (such as the Pacific Northwest or the Midwest), people might have 3 kids and a mortgage by the time they're 28 years old is absolutely foreign to them. It occurred to me today that by East Coast standards, it's like I lived my thirties when I was in my twenties. And now I am living my twenties in my thirties. I hang out with my twenty-something friends in NYC while my parents watch my kids and I feel carefree, something I never really experienced post-college until I moved back here. I wanted to share with you this video that memorializes Andrew's life. I think you'll enjoy it.

This past fall, I posted a link to a letter Andrew wrote to be read posthumously. Someone from Maranatha Grace Fort Lee said, "It's funny. You've lived this whole other life before you got here and we don't even really realize that about you." But I wish they could know that about me.

I love my new family at Maranatha. Tonight, two friends asked if they could come over because they wanted to be there for me on the weekend of the anniversary of Andrew's death. Earlier in the week when they kept asking me what I wanted to do this weekend I was pretty unresponsive. I didn't know if I wanted to do anything. The pain has blunted. (Although being a single mom is just as agonizing as being a single mom is. The pain of raising my kids without a loving dad continues to be awful.) But they continued to pursue me. And they said, "Well, if it's okay with you, we're picking up dinner and coming over."

After a yummy meal, they let me show them videos of my life with Andrew. I wish everyone at Maranatha could have known Andrew Mark. They would have loved him, as those of you who knew him did. They would have known him as one of the most humble men with a pure love for Christ, who as a former prodigal son grasped the gospel better than most of the people they've ever encountered. And as a result, he was incredibly gracious, patient, and forgiving.

There are those of you who knew him before his overnight transformation, and those of you who knew him only afterwards. But I think both of those groups knew him as the guy who was always genuinely interested in the person he was talking to. His friends were creative and interesting in every variety. He was always curious about each of them and the things that excited them. I wish those of you who know me now, could have known the person who, other than my mom, impacted me more than anyone. Who shaped me and taught me so much of what I know. I share this video below not because I haven't moved on with my life. I absolutely have. But Andrew, the father of my children, was a huge part of my life and why I am who I am today. Just as I would never forget my family, who shaped me, I will never forget Andrew. I will always be grateful to God for our six years (5 years married) together. And I think I might always want to share him with everyone, because if he was here, he'd be greatly impacting you today. By continuing to share about him, I think he will still sharpen you in your love for Christ and the gospel more. In this video, I made all the cuts according to the lyrics in the music--the music is so apropos in retrospect. This is the original post for this video that explains the video more:

If you'd like to watch his memorial service, it is here:

Love, Grace

1 comment:

  1. I remember following your blogs and praying for your husband,you and your beautiful children. Thank you for your update. Blessings to you and your children.