Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Paula's Ponderings -- April Endings

April – it usually evokes images of new life: trees budding, flowers blooming, baby calves and colts in the fields…

But for me, the month of April marks endings…

Grandma Stroud
April 19, 1995: My Grandma, Letha Eunice Stroud, was called Home to her eternal reward. If the date seems familiar, it was also the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. Some say that the Lord knew there would be children arriving in heaven that day as a result of the bombing. And so He called Grandma, who loved everyone, but especially children, Home to help care for them. I’m not sure how theologically sound that is, but I do know that Grandma always ministered to others and always saw the good in others. And above all, she loved her family and her Lord. I am the person I am today due in large part to her influence in my life, her unwavering belief in me, and her unconditional love for me.

April 24, 1992: We lost our unborn son, Alexander Robert, just 9 months after losing twins. Losing Alexander also meant letting go of the dream of having more children and holding on, even more tightly, to the two sons we have – Nathaniel Philip and Christopher Paul.

April 24, 2011: My father-in-law, Rev. Robert D. Troutman, stepped from this life into the next.  He was a respected teacher, churchman and editor. And he was the proud grandpa who, at the birth of his first grandson -- to carry on the Troutman name -- sent me a bouquet of blue flowers with a card that said, “I told you so!” (I had been teasing him saying that the baby would be a girl, but he said it would be a boy!)

April 2003: Our missionary career was called into question, which prompted us to take a leave of absence so that Phil could pursue a Ph.D. and give us time to search ourselves, re-evaluate our calling and seek the Lord’s guidance in finding a way forward. And after ten long years, we finally returned to Africa in November of 2013.

April 2016: Through a series of difficult events our missionary career has come to a sudden, unexpected end. Our lives have come crashing down around us, and as you read this we are once again packing up our lives, our dreams, and our calling, and leaving Africa for the last time.

April, the month of endings … They have been hard to bear and impossible to fully understand. As we have faced these endings, the questions have been many and the tears have flowed freely. In our struggle to accept and deal with these endings, we have frequently been overcome by grief and self-doubt. But step-by-step we have learned to lean on Him, trust in Him and hold on to His promises. And we will go forward, because we have come to believe and accept that just as He is the Lord of endings, He is also the Lord of beginnings. I think Grandma would agree.