This has been another very emotional couple of weeks for us – just a lot of ups and downs.
I had a couple of ministry events in Florida, so we decided to take the whole family and make it our family vacation for the summer. We had planned to spend the first several days at St. Augustine Beach because I had some ministry events there at Anastasia Baptist Church, and then we were going to go over to Disney World for several days and head home.
Sadly, we heard just before we were leaving that our dear family friend, Ralph, had passed away. I’ve known Ralph and his wife, Nancy, my entire life – they are like family to me. Ralph had been battling cancer for a year, and my mom and I went down to Florida to visit them a couple of months ago because we knew it was getting toward the end. I had even recorded a special version of one of Ralph’s favorite songs of mine for his funeral at his request. When we realized the service was going to be on that first weekend we were in Florida, we knew we needed to try to get there, even though it was on the other side of the state. Nancy was really wanting me to sing at the service, and told me that was what Ralph had wanted too, but they hadn’t wanted to pressure me to come and didn’t know my schedule.
The kids had to miss the last two days of school, so that was a little rough with our oldest – she had to move up her finals, but she was willing. We literally picked her up from her last final and hit the road, driving 7 hours to Charlotte, NC in one shot. The next day we were up bright and early to get to St. Augustine because I had a concert that night and we were supposed to sound check about 4 in the afternoon. We were so relieved to have no problems at all with traffic – in 1000 miles, we probably only lost about 15 minutes total for traffic, and that is a miracle!
We were able to check into our condo and actually left the kids there because they are old enough and were exhausted, and they’ve heard my concerts a few times. Anastasia Baptist was only a couple miles from this condo, so we got the kids dinner and headed back. They were just a lovely bunch of people to work with! It was a great night, and even though we were very tired at the end of the show, it’s always wonderful to hear how God is working in people’s lives – I think talking to people afterward is one of my favorite parts!
After that we went home and crashed, and the next day we just took a day off and played on the beach together and saw a bit of St. Augustine which has some fascinating history. The next day was Friday and we spent the morning getting organized and then headed out for another almost 6 hour drive across the state. We reconnected with a few family friends and the next day was Ralph’s funeral. I had to go early for a sound check, but that was fine – his whole family was there and I just love them. It hurts to be together because you’ve lost someone, but it’s also a comfort. Ralph was an amazing man, a loving father and loyal friend, a man of faith and dignity, and it was a pretty inspiring service. And God was so good to me – I was very worried I wouldn’t be able to sing because I would be choked up, but God got me through it, and I know it was what Ralph wanted, so that was sweet.
After the service we had lunch with everyone and then went with the family for the smaller graveside service. It was also beautiful, and I was thinking it would be a pretty place for Nancy to visit, but we know that Ralph is somewhere so much better!
Then we headed back across the state because I was singing again at Anastasia in the morning. The services went well, and I would love to be back here another time! What a sweet church. We were by this time pretty worn out, though, and happy to head to Disney, if only to cheer up. When we go to Disney, we vacation hard – this is not a time to relax and rest! That’s what the beach was for! But since we missed that time, we tried to take it just a bit easier. Sadly, we also had to cut that time short because the girls had to be back for a training at the zoo where they volunteer.
In the end, we’re glad we went, and so glad that we were able to be there for Nancy, but we need a vacation after our vacation. Now that we’re back, we’re full steam ahead into adoption paperwork, and hoping to finish our homestudy in the next 4 or 6 weeks. There’s an overwhelming amount of paperwork, but we’re just going to do our best to plow through. Thanks for your prayers for our little guy!