With actual storm behind us the remnants of "Storm Sandy" remain across most of the East Coast in the United States. Similar to a storm of this magnitude, stress has a similar impact on our lives. It can be terrifying, heartbreaking, and gut-wrenching in the midst.
It is during the storm that many will contact you to remind you they are thinking and praying for you. Even in the moments and days following your stressor, friends and family will purpose time and efforts to help you feel better.
It is this time of transition during and directly following a tragic event or stressful situation when it is easy to remember. We are a busy society. Sadly, it is during these times we remember the pain and suffering of others but as time passes, so do our good intentions.
Do not misunderstand me, I am as guilty as the next person OR maybe it is only I that struggles to remember the pain doesn't end or disappear just because the calendar has changed to a new month and the list of things-to-do has tripled. Is it just me?
Is there someone in your life that you helped through a difficult situation? As you went through a difficult situation, what is one way another helped you? Do you say an extra prayer for this person on the anniversary of their loss or during a specific holiday? What about at other times during the year?
This blog is not to invoke guilt or hard feelings but a reminder. A reminder I needed this week. As the raged outside I realized a friend and special person to me continues to struggle with loss.
Did I think of her and her family at the start of school? Yes. Do I think of them each time a "special" school event takes place? Yes.
Do I sit down and write them a note, call them, or drop them an email each time I remember them and their pain? No. Do I let them know I am praying for them each time the Lord places them on my heart? No.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.
There were also other boats with him.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
“Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down
and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?
Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified
and asked each other, “Who is this?
Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
I am not perfect and do not claim to be yet I should understand on a deeper level of the importance of "remembering" throughout the year, not just on the day tragedy struck. As I prayed for the physical safety of the east coast this past week, I also thanked God for this reminder.
The pain, hurt, and loss remains after the storm passes but the beauty and hope is...the Rainbow reveals itself in full splendor...AFTER the storm. How can you help a hurting friend, family member, or co-worker see the rainbow today?
On April 3, 2013, my first book, Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey will be released. This is the first time since 1994 my family has looked forward to this April date. Of course our hearts will still break, the normal grief associated with the anniversary of our loss will still be present, and Heidi will be on the forefront of our thoughts and prayers BUT this year's anniversary will be different.
Our hope, healing, joy, excitement, and anticipation to share my first book with you is an answer to prayer. Instead of planning where we might escape to on April third to hideaway, we will be meeting many of you at book signings. Instead of crying into our pillows in the privacy of our homes, we will receive encouragement from all of you as you share your hearts.
As if this isn't enough, instead of focusing on the negative and pain of the 19th anniversary of Heidi's disappearance there is a new focus...HOPE! Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey is my story. A book written about the kidnapping of Heidi M. Allen from the viewpoint of her only sister, me. My prayer and hope is that my story will help others heal from the pain induced by loss in your lives.
It will it be a challenge this coming April to maintain a smile throughout the day yet I know it is going to be a great day. God is faithful and loves me. God loves my entire family. The book release date was selected purposefully to show tragedy does not have to control your life. God is a loving and compassionate God. Heidi may have disappeared on April 3, 1994 yet her memory remains.
This year instead of mourning, we will be singing, praising, and celebrating the time we had with her as look ahead, not behind.
My entire family was blessed and overwhelmed with the outpouring of your support for Heidi as we reached the 1,000 Facebook likes in less than three weeks during the month of September. It was exciting and such an encouragement each day to watch the number slowly climb from around three-hundred to 1,077 during the month.
With each new like, a prayer of thanks and blessing was said for those who chose to follow the "Where's Heidi?" Facebook page. Please know your "likes" are appreciated and lifted as praise. With this said, here is our challenge and new goal.
Our new goal is 6,935 Facebook likes on April 3, 2013!
I know, relax, this is a huge number yet we serve an even bigger God. Where did we come up with such an astronomical number? Glad you asked, it comes from the heart.
This is not a random number but represents the number of days Heidi has missing as of April 3, 2013. During the first weeks and months of Heidi's search, the Palladium Times, an Oswego newspaper, included a photo of Heidi and the number of days she had been missing. As I go through news clippings for T.O.P.'s Tuesday, this little graphic captured my heart.
Nineteen years ago the community remembered Heidi and counted the days. With today's new technology I thought it would be neat to "count the days missing" with Facebook "likes" between now and April 3rd. This will take much prayer, sharing, and "liking" yet we believe it is a goal we can reach.
6,935 days missing...6,935 Facebook "likes" on the "Where's Heidi?" Facebook page by April 3, 2013!
We can do this! Thanks for joining us as we strive to reach this goal. May God bless you in return.
For a direct link to the "Where's Heidi?" Facebook page, click on any of today's photographs.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion--
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
To most, these probably look like two old broken sticks. If this is your thought then you would be correct but I have a secret, they represent so much more. These two unique and matured pieces of wood are evidence of friendship, memories, and love.
Today they rest on the pavement outside my Dad's garage but when I was younger, they were used to help Dad and his best bud, Wick, through the muck in the swamp. A picture of these two great friends is below, both influential and special in my life.
Of course a quick buzz with the saw would make them great kindling to start the wood stove's fire this winter but the thought of cutting up a memory is sad. There might come a time when these two sticks will need to be cut but for now they serve as a reminder...of friendship, hunting, and family.
Side Note: After posting this blog I learned Dad passed two sticks to Wick's son, Matt. Matt gave them to his so, Colton, as family heirloom of sorts. In memory of Wick, they plan to return the sticks to the pond boat for their duck hunting adventure. Two sticks of friendship passed down to two sticks of father-son bonding. God is good.
Personally, I have a couple coffee mugs that sit on my shelf. Each given to me by Heidi. One for passing my road test and the other for graduation. She used her own money and gave me a "mug of love" full of fresh flowers for these two special occasions.
Someone might think it is odd to have coffee mugs on a shelf in your bedroom but for me...they are a memory. A small way to remember the generosity of my sister and the love we shared.
The little teddy bear is from Heidi too, it held a birthday balloon one year. I was spoiled...I miss her. The little wicker circular container holds my first "Where's Heidi?" and "Missing: Heidi M. Allen" buttons from April 1994. The dust on the shelf is a reminder that I am human.
These are a couple of my tactile memories, what is one of yours.
What item (or items, lol) do you
have laying around your house, garage,
or yard that others might think
"Why do you keep that?"
BUT you know the love
and story behind it?
Will you share a memory with us?
Today's illustrations are compliments of my daughter, Mags. I am using these with her permission. This is one of her projects from her eighth grade Art class. We were unaware she was doing it. The only thing I knew was she needed a photograph of her Aunt Heidi for school. She didn't offer more information and we didn't ask. Trust is important between parents and their teen. I know Mary's heart and figured she was up to something that would bring tears to my eyes when the time came. I was correct on both accounts.
The illustrations are in order from beginning to end, with the first step at the top and the finished project at the bottom. It started with a photograph. She chose the one used on most of the missing person flyers so we would have a different appreciation of this beautiful photo. The next step was to sketch the picture. The third step required her to take her sketch and then carve it onto this funky "wood paper". The final step was to make a "print" of the carving. We think it turned out amazing! We are so proud of her.
Is it perfect? No, but neither are we and neither is the healing process. As Mary explained the steps in the process to transition an old photograph into the print you see at the bottom required time, patience, dedication, persistence, guidance, and a willingness on Mary's part. Healing is the same way.
To heal requires time, patience, dedication, persistence, guidance, and a willingness too. Our Teacher of course is God. I was overwhelmed first at Mary's interest to choose a picture of her aunt, the aunt she never met but as I thought about it I realized it had a deeper meaning. Mary experienced a loss too, she lost the opportunity to enjoy being loved, spoiled, and guided by her Aunt Heidi. Mary created a print of her aunt and in the process, grieved a little too as she spent hours sketching and carving the face of an angel.
Healing takes time. In the case of a missing person, there is healing for the next generation too. They never met their loved one and live with the same "unknowns" as their parents, siblings, and extended family. What if? A question with much weight, a weight children shouldn't need to carry. Remember to let your children grieve and heal too...they need it as much as we do, if not more.
What are some ways you have helped a child heal after loss? If you have a loved one missing, how have you helped the children in your life understand and heal?
I know these are personal questions, a little more personal than I typically ask. They are thoughts to ponder and remember. If you choose to share, thank you. If not, I totally understand.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Art work created by Mary Buske, Heidi's niece.
Lisa M Buske
P.O. Box 323