Our family moved to Van Alstyne just shy of three months ago in an effort to get away from the bustling city. Having a home on a few acres had been on our bucket list for a long time and when our middle son left for college we decided to pull the trigger. The remaining child still living at home was anxious about moving to a small town where she did not know anyone, especially being pulled away from a city where she was comfortable and attached to friends, church and traditions. We spent many a night in prayer, asking the Lord for His peace during the transition from one home to the next. Little did we know His peace would come in a form we never anticipated.
My husband is a giant of a man. He is a 6-7 bald gentleman. He is known for the size of his body and the size of his heart. His nickname is JWG: Jolly White Giant (makes me chuckle just thinking about his nickname…fits him). In all our years of marriage, I have never seen JWG suffer from anything more than allergies — nothing more than what a Claritin could knock out — until last week when I witnessed my husband’s world get knocked out from underneath him; correction, our world knocked out from underneath us.
If you have ever driven a loved one to the emergency room then you know what I mean when I write that your mind slips to a different place. You find yourself thinking so vociferously that your senses ache and your thoughts skip from “get out of my way” to “what if” to “maybe I should have” to “Lord, help, now!”
Days later, my husband remains in the hospital. Being near to my gentle giant in this hospital room, watching him in a state of weakness is indescribable. What is even worse is that our daughter is not allowed in the room. She can briefly see her dad through glass doors.
During one of our worst nights at the hospital, our daughter had her first experience playing in her new band at Van Alstyne High School’s first football game of the season. While I was camped out at the hospital with JWG, our daughter was trying to hold it together in the stands.
Dear readers, there are just sometimes when God shows up and shows off.
Later my daughter would explain to me over the telephone what happened. “One by one, Mom, adults that I hardly knew would come up to me and tell me they were praying for my dad and our family. Some of them I’ve never even seen before. My English teacher came up to me and gave me her number in case our family needed anything, so did my Pitt teacher. The school principal came up to me as well. Girls from my school, some whom I haven’t really gotten to know yet, came up to me and gave me a hug,” she said through tears. “And then guess what?”
“What?” I whispered, trying to be quiet as my husband rested in his hospital bed.
“A group of girls formed a circle around me and prayed. Mom, I was so thankful.”
Just then, as the tears began to fall upon my face, I thought about all the nights we spent in prayer together, asking the Lord for His peace during the transition from one home to the next. Little did we know His peace would come in a form we never anticipated.
“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11, NIV).
As I drove home from the hospital one day to run in and take a shower and grab another change of clothes before heading back, my daughter heard a sound in the front yard.
“Mom, our neighbor is mowing our grass.”
I was stunned. We live on several acres. I had not mentioned to our neighbor about JWG, nor would I expect anyone to do such a laborious task in August on our behalf. I went outside to speak to him.
“Well, I heard the news about your husband. I was trying to figure out how I could help. I looked around, and saw how,” he said.
Even though JWG was too weak to carry on a conversation, when I went back to the hospital and told him who had mowed his grass, his eyes filled. He was humbled by the gift of his time and help.
Another neighbor jumped in and immediately began to help our family by caring for our daughter until JWG’s mother flew into town. And the local upholstery shop owner came to the hospital and brought me a fresh bag of clothes, a meal, and simply sat with me for a little while to help calm my nerves. Their support was, and still is, amazing.
And that’s not all. When I first came to Van Alstyne I started attending a group called the L.O.V.E (Ladies of Van Alsytne Exchange). This group of exceptional ladies came together and started a meal chain for our family. They even arranged to have our home cleaned while I was with JWG in the hospital.
As a believer in the power of prayer, I reached out for prayer warriors to help pray for my husband. Hundreds of friends poured in their support… so very thankful for each and every one. As I was responding, I noticed the specific prayers from people we received from Van Alstyne, the town we have only been in for almost three months. Prayers and support from folks like the kind local nursery owner and city council folks; the sweet mayor’s wife and ranchers; chamber folks and homemakers; school kids and retired folks.
There is a particular set of verses I read over and over again while JWG was at his worst:
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, through the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea… The Lord Almighty is with us…” (Psalm 46:1-2,7, NIV).
Friends, I believe God is with us in many ways. One way is through other people, everyday sinners like you and me. I have seen God show up and show off through the people of Van Alstyne.
Thank you for allowing God to work through you. Indeed, the Lord Almighty is with us as we are called to be agents of His grace and love.
Thank you for being our town.
SGLY, dear readers. (Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian writer, an opinion columnist and a fine art photographer. To submit feedback on SGLY or to offer a specific topic idea, please contact Chartier at email@example.com. Follow Chartier on Facebook: facebook.com/tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.