Vacation. Isn’t that time to relax? Time to NOT think? There are two moments in my life that I find myself “not thinking.” Daily, that happens in the shower and yearly, that happens on vacation. Seems like my mind can be free of “have-to-thoughts” like work, finances, and that never-ending to-do-list only on those two occasions. Maybe that’s why I have my greatest epiphanies in the shower and on vacation.
I give God time to speak, or at least I take the time to listen. It was during Thanksgiving break that it happened. Avery and I took a drive to Key West on Thanksgiving Day and stayed overnight in a local hotel. The four-hour drive was relaxing and adventurous, giving my mind time to wander. I really enjoy the opportunity to allow silence to capture my attention and that often happens while I drive long distance.
The first day was spent like a tourist on Duval Street but the second day we found ourselves just relaxing by the pool. We met two older gentlemen and their wives and enjoyed leisurely conversation. One was from Detroit and the other from a small town in West Virginia. They met at the same hotel over five years ago and now make a habit to visit every Thanksgiving. Interesting, I thought, but more interesting than that, they were both retired firefighters.
I told them that my husband was a fireman but they never caught the word “was”. Often times that is my open door. They usually ask “was” and I say “yes, he was killed by a drunk driver on his way to work five years ago.” Then, their heart softens and I begin to tell them that it’s ok because he is with Jesus in heaven. It sets up the perfect scene to tell “the story.” This time it didn’t go that way; I felt like I didn’t have the time to tell the whole story so I didn’t want to open it up and leave them feeling like God was bad for taking James from us.
Then came Christmas break. Avery and I were shopping at a local outdoor market and found an adorable little booth selling engraved rings. I decided to get a gold band with “James Reeder 3-8-09” engraved on it, a memorial ring. The lady asked me who James was and I told her it was my husband. Again, I wasn’t able to tell the whole story so I just gave her the basics. I can tell she was sad for me.
Both of these encounters left me frustrated, as if I couldn’t tell the story anymore because it had become too long to tell. I needed something to hand them so they could read it for themselves. A BOOK!
It was time. But what, Lord? What do I write? Then in the shower, it all came together in my mind and heart. Later that afternoon, I sat down at my computer and began to write. I called it “Finally Home continued.” I took the one page story I had written a year after James’ death and began the second section which was to become chapter two. I sent it to my friend Maritza, who is an author herself, to which she replied: “Tina, this is a book!” And so, the process of editing and designing the book began.
Christmas Day, 1:30 a.m. Maritza submits the final draft through Create Space on Amazon.com for final review. Initially, when we started putting this all together just ten days earlier, we joked as to how awesome it would be to have the book for Christmas. Well, on Christmas Day at 5:30 a.m. when I checked my email, I found the final, complete proof ready for my approval! I climbed in Avery’s bed with my laptop. She awoke to a glowing screen showing the book cover photo of her daddy’s bunker jacket. She smiled. “It’s done,” I cried with delight and amazement. God gave us a gift that Christmas morning. Crazy thing is, it was Jesus’ birthday, not mine and He gave us a gift. He is so gracious and good.
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