Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Big Week for Nate

Our oldest son, Nathan is a very busy boy this week. He graduates from high school next Friday, and he is knee-deep in all of the wrap-up concerts and awards ceremonies. He finished in the top 10% of his class and was awarded one of the two outstanding band students for this year. Tonight, he had double duty; he spoke at Seminary Graduation at church at 7 p.m., and as soon as he was finished, he changed into his band tux and drove like mad to the high school so that he could perform in his final high school concert and be honored as a graduating senior. He has loved his high school experience, and he is looking forward to his freshman year at Brigham Young University starting this Fall. Since Nate won't turn eighteen until July, he will be able to go to a complete year of college before he goes on his mission next Summer. He's quite simply a fine, outstanding young man, and I am very proud to be his dad.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sorry...It's Been Too Long

Since the anniversary of Peter's death, life has taken many interesting twists and turns for the Barr Family. First off, we packed up the family and took a long-planned, two-week trip to Europe, leaving on Saturday, March 14th and returning Sunday, March 29th. Even before Peter's illness, we knew that we wanted to make one last special trip as a family before Nathan graduated from high school and before we all went our separate ways. We saved our tax returns for more than four years in preparation for this event, and as we realized that Peter would not be making the trip with us, it took on an even greater significance. We toyed with the idea of not taking the trip, or perhaps scaling it down somewhat to make it more affordable; however, shortly after Peter's passing, we realized how much we needed to make this the trip of a lifetime. Tina spend months pouring over Rick Steves' travel guides for Germany, Austria, the Netherland and Belgium, and we began working out the budget. Ultimately, we purchased round trip tickets from Dallas to Munich (via Atlanta), rented a mini-van, and covered over two thousand miles of European bliss in the two weeks we were gone. We saw and did things that I believe the children had only imagined, and we were able to relive some of my fondest memories as a missionary in the Netherlands over twenty years ago, hooking up with friends and acquaintances who played a pivotal role in my two years of service back in the eighties. The trip was a whirlwind, and as all wonderful things in life, it was over before we knew it; we did, however, take over 800 pictures and kept a meticulous journal of our travels, so anytime we want to relive the memories, they are right before our eyes.

Since returning home, life has been in fast forward. Work for me has been more demanding than in any other time in my twelve-year career with my company, and the children are on the downhill run toward the end of school. Tina continues to work at the Cake Stand in McKinney and enjoys working for a business that really utilizes her talents and gives her artistic side a great deal of room for expression. Nathan graduates from school a week from this Saturday and will begin his college journey at the end of August at Brigham Young University. This time next year, he will be anxiously waiting for his own mission call to arrive, and we can't wait to learn where in the world the Lord wants him to serve. Spencer completely loves soccer and orchestra, and he will likely be one of the varsity goal keepers next season as well as an officer and concert master in orchestra. Lindsey is excited to have her first year of middle school behind her, and she has her sights set on participating in athletics next year, both in track and perhaps in tennis as well! We continue to count our blessings in spite of the trials and challenges life places in our path, and we rely continually on the Lord to help us make sense of the great changes that continue to happen in our lives. Peter is always with us. We visited his grave today as part of our Memorial Day observance (okay, he's not a veteran, but he did fight a great battle!). Tina, Nathan and I all dreamed about him over the past few weeks, and he seemed to be offering each of us comfort. For me, he was giving me a great big hug, which was priceless. My son's death has turned my world upside down in many ways, some of which I never expected, yet I have to believe that all things are working out the way the Lord intends them to. We are slowly learning that life can go on, and the surges of grief, though they still occur, are farther apart and take place with less intensity. We know that Peter is in a wonderful place, and even if he misses us as much as we miss him, we all know that we will see each other again and enjoy the family bond we all cherished while he lived among us.