Two years... that's how long the invitation to Joey's funeral service has been hanging on door inside our kitchen. Two years... that's half of our little Indiana's life.
Two years ago today we held Joey's funeral service here in the barn/concert hall at the farm. It was a sunny, early-spring day in March and the daffodils that lined the fence line were in full bloom, as about two hundred of our closest friends and family members all gathered with us to celebrate my sweet bride and lay her earthly body to rest in the old cemetery in the back field behind our farmhouse. The service started as our dear friends The Isaacs: Sonya, Ben and Rebecca sang the song "It Is Well With My Soul" that Joey had requested and the day ended with me closing the gate to the cemetery and carrying the baby home.
I woke up early this morning thinking all about that day and while Indy slept, I pulled up and watched some video clips of Joey's service for the first time - footage that has been sitting on a hard drive in my bedroom since the funeral. It was hard because the pain of losing her is still so fresh... but it was also oh, so beautiful to see again. To remember. To feel. Later in the day, while Indy was in preschool, I put a few of the clips together to have something to always remember that day, and to share with all the people who love and miss her just as I do.
It is well.
Do you know the story of that song? The hymn writer Horatio Spafford lost his baby son to pneumonia, his business in the great Chicago fire, and then his four other children in a shipwreck in 1873...and somehow, in faith, managed to pick up his pen and write those lyrics that have comforted generations of broken hearts since then - including Joey's and mine.
Even when we think it shouldn't... life goes on as it must. And God's hand is always upon it.
As I look around and think of the changes that have come in our lives since losing Joey, I can't help but say "it is well", because it is. It may not be how we wanted or imagined life would be, but it is, as God has chosen it to be. And as we trust Him and walk forward, it's easy to see that there is beauty and hope everywhere.
Indy turned four-years-old about three weeks ago and she's walking and talking so well and is so kind and so sweet...I think Joey would be so proud. We celebrated her birthday while we were on vacation in the spot in Hawaii that Joey took us for my 50th birthday - just Indiana and me this time. And it was beautiful, and she was just precious.
The one room schoolhouse we've been building here on the farm for Indy to go to school in is all finished. It won't be long before she, and some other little ones will be learning how to write their ABC's, grow okra, raise baby goats and a hundred other 'farm school' dreams that will hopefully come to life in the coming months and years (I'll write more about all that in another blog post very soon...)
HEIDI AND HOPIE
Our older girls both live in Florence, Alabama now. They have each used a portion of the money that Joey left them to put down-payments on their own homes and are so happy. Florence is only two hours away and they travel up here to see Indy and me every few weeks or so. And we go down to see them quite often too. They were both here this past Sunday and we all had a picnic beside Joey's cross to honor the day that she passed away two years ago. It was a beautiful day to be together and celebrate their mom.
Although I'm still not really writing songs or recording, I have done a few concerts in the barn this past fall and Christmas season, and to tell you the truth, I loved it. Especially the ones we did during the holidays. We completely remodeled the concert hall and lobby and brought in a 20 foot wide LED wall that we put at the back of the stage. So besides singing lots of songs, I was able to use video to tell stories and share parts of our life that I've never been able to share before. And with the LED wall, Joey was able to be on the stage with me, singing and sharing and still being a part of this beautiful story that God has given us.
The shows we did this past December were so special that we've decided to do them one-weekend a month for most of the rest of this year, starting in mid-April. The actual dates of the concerts will be April 13, 14... May 11, 12... June 15, 16... July 6, 7... Aug 10, 11... Nov 23, 24 and 30... Dec 1, 7 and 8. My brother-in-law Keith, who handles our merch store said that tickets should be online and available HERE by tomorrow afternoon , if not sooner.
There is so much in our lives to be thankful for. We're surrounded by so many wonderful friends and neighbors and have countless people we'll never meet praying for us around the country, and on top of that... spring is almost here. Springtime was always Joey's favorite season and it has become mine too. We're planning to take a trip back to Indiana to be with Joey's family for Easter and are excited about seeing them and spending time there in her hometown again.
Thankfully, day-by-day here in Tennessee, the weather is starting to turn warmer and the sun is beginning to shine more, after what seems like months of of nothing but cold and rain.
It is well.