I just wanted to take a minute to let everyone know that we had a genuinely nice time on our first family vacation with only three of our foursome present. Our wonderful hostess in Houston, TX, Lisa Puckett, commented when she first met A.J. that I clearly have "a lot to live for." She is so right. I believe that God really spoke to me through her and through other blessed surprises during the trip.
One thing that I was very concerned about on our trip was conversing with strangers. This is a practice that has always come naturally to me (sometimes much to my husband's chagrin!), but I found myself very reserved on our flight there. What if I made a comment about Joshua and had to explain what has happened over the past six months? We have had the luxury of being in our sheltered little community where everybody knows; where no explanations have been necessary. What if I made a stranger uncomfortable by pouring out my problems inadvertantly? I decided just to remain guarded instead. I politely said "thank you" when other travelers oohed and ahed at how funny and cute A.J. was, but chose to shy away from any further conversation that could include the subject that I cannot avoid when speaking of my children: A.J.'s brother, Joshua.
On our final evening of the trip, however, I was faced with the situation that I knew would eventually come up. Of all of the wonderfully pleasant friends that our friends, Alan and Lisa had invited over for a cookout, only one couple did not know about Joshua. This, of course, was the woman with whom I was speaking when I made some comment about how A.J. does not eat as well as my older child did at that age. "How old is your older child?" she asked. This did not upset me for my sake, but rather for hers. I didn't want her to feel badly for asking or uncomfortable when I gave her an honest answer, but I just explained briefly that he is three but that he is with the Lord. Instead of the awkward moment that I expected, however, I recognized almost immediately that God had chosen this person of the many strangers that I could have encountered. It turned out that her mother had two siblings who passed away as children. She had grown up knowing her aunts/ uncles through memories that her loving grandmother had cherished and shared with the daughter and granddaughter who never had the privilege of knowing these children in this life. This woman had a unique perspective which allowed her to sympathize in an almost joyful way with the story that I had dreaded sharing with her. God is very strategic about the people we encounter sometimes, isn't He?
Over and over, A.J. made us smile on the trip. As his communication improves and vocabulary expands, it is impossible to not smile in his presence. What I consider the perfect ending to our refreshing trip and beginning of Father's Day, though, was something he said in our own backyard as soon as we got home. Those who attended the memorial service may recall Travis talking about his discourse with Joshua when they played golf, which is A.J.'s new favorite passtime with Dad, too. It was like having a flashback as I watched the two of them knocking practice balls all over our yard. A.J. will almost always repeat a word that you ask him to, but it is more special (and entertaining) when he chooses his own words. But imagine my surprise when he looked at his father and said-- almost echoing the words that only Joshua has been known to say-- "Good job, Dad!"
God still speaks to us all the time!!