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a week to remember

This has been a week to remember.

There have been big parties for little people and small losses with great lessons... and we even had a romantic night filled with more love for each other than we even thought was possible. But mostly, this has been a week filled with thankfulness.

Joey and I watched the Pre-Grammy celebration togetherthe early portion of the show where the award that we were up for and some others were given out. To say it was a bit surreal to be where we are, looking at where our music has taken us, is an understatement.

I’ve said before that just being nominated is enough. But after having more time to think about it… that’s not actually true. Instead, I would say that just being able to wake up and look into the eyes of the people we care about and tell them that we love them is enough. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

The truth is, God has blessed us with the gift of something even bigger than a Grammy award this year... perspective.

The morning after the award show, Joey looked into my eyes and said, “I’m sorry we didn’t win us a Grammy.” I smiled and said, “that’s okay.” Then jokingly, I added,“ ...there’s always next year.” She smiled back at me and said, “yes... next year.” And then she talked about how if we were to ever be nominated again, that I have to promise her that I would go. And I told her that I would. Then her smile widened and she winked and said, “and guess what... I’ll know the winner before you do."

Indy and I drove through what seemed like a blizzard on Sunday afternoon to pick up dinner for Joey for Valentine's Day. My wife loves sushi and I had decided that morning that we could surprise her with some of her favorite rolls. But driving down the icy roads with the wind blowing and the snow drifting, I started to worry that my truck might end up in a ditch somewhere between here and Muncie and our whole night would be ruined. But we made it home okay and Joey was so happy to see the food we had for her. And though she’d hardly eaten anything at all for the last couple of weeks... starting that night, her appetite came back and she had the greatest time. Her three sisters helped her with make-up and she put on a nice shirt and scarf to look pretty for me... and we both even wore sweet corsages that someone sent to us in the mail for the big day (I hadn’t even seen a corsage since my senior prom). We lit a candle and together, we shared an incredible Valentine's Day evening.

When dinner was over, as I said goodnight and tucked the blankets around her in the little hospital bed she has been living in for months, she thanked me for the special night and then made one last request. “If Jody helps me to scoot over to one side... could you try to lay down with me and put your arms around me?”

I haven’t been able to be in the same bed with my wife or hold her in my arms since the beginning of Novemberwhen she made her last trip to the hospital.

But for one sweet half-an-hour... amp that changed on Valentines day.

Our manager Aaron called us yesterday morning and told us that lots of folks have been buying our new Hymns album and that stores across the country have had a hard time keeping them in stock since they went on sale earlier this week. I put it on speaker phone so Joey could listen and hear the wonderful news and say hi to Aaron. When we hung up, Joey and I sat there holding hands... knowing that in time those sales could turn into some income for our family and that could really help, now that there are no more concerts or income from shows. We talked about what a blessing it was, and then she looked at me very seriously and said, “I need you to do something for me...” I told her I would be glad to. Then with all the sincerity in the world, she said, “I need you to be generous... God has blessed us so much. We need to bless others.’

God, I love that woman.

Joey barely slept the night before Indiana’s birthday. She was too excited. Jody said she didn’t fall asleep until about five a.m., around the time that Indy and I woke up. When Joey woke up, a little before noon, I came in to see her... and tears were flowing down her face. Again, I put my arms around her and asked, “why are you crying, honey?"

“We made it…” she softly answered. “We made it.”

And once again, my tears mixed with hers.

Please don’t think that our life is all sappy tears and Hallmark-movie moments, like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel, because it’s not. There is lots of real pain and hurt and frustration and fun and laughter... and most times, we just pinch ourselves because we feel so darn lucky and blessed. But the moments that seem to stand outthe ones that matter and hurt the most of coursehave tears in them. And I can’t help but share a few of the most powerful moments as they happen. To capture them. To remember.

For the most part, Indiana’s big day was nothing but joy and more joy. She has a way of bringing even the most painful parts of life back into perspective. All-day long (and many days before that) the mailman and the UPS and FedEx drivers kept knocking on the doordelivering more and more presents from strangers, family, and friends... to Indiana in Indiana.

So by the time the birthday song had been sung and the birthday cake had been eaten and we got around to opening gifts... it took all of her cousins to help her get the presents open.

We decorated the room that Joey is staying in and set Indy’s high-chair with a ballon on it right beside her bed... so Joey could see and be part of the whole thing.

I could go on and on and tell you all about our evening and our baby’s 2nd birthday party... but it’s probably easier to just let Indy’s face tell the story...

Thank you, Lord that we were able to all be together for this special day, for this special week.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.



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