Amanda Vernon

Catholic Evangelist

Birthday Blessings in Disguise

This is a week of celebration.  It began with Labor Day weekend, followed by my in-laws' wedding anniversary, my mom’s 50th birthday, my 3rd wedding anniversary, and last but not least, my 25th birthday, today!  In the midst of these milestones, my husband and I are facing financial challenges, and I am also mourning the recent loss of my Grandma Rose.  This week seemed daunting, until a message from my friend Katie helped put things into perspective.

While I love being an independent musician, the job does not guarantee a steady paycheck.  My husband is also self-employed, between managing my music career and working as a licensed insurance agent.  We love building our schedules around our family.  However, when I take extended time off, as I did during my maternity leave this summer, our income is unpredictable.  Given our current situation, we were not able to travel the eight hours up north for my grandmother’s recent funeral.  

Rose Marie Lundell was a beautiful woman of Italian descent, with warmth in her smile and kindness in her voice.  She married my mother’s father after he became a widower, nearly 25 years ago.  I always regarded her as my Grandma Rose, and she always treated me with love and tenderness.  She consistently reminded me to dwell on the good: from sharing fond memories of growing up in northern Michigan, to singing me her favorite songs, and commenting, whenever I felt sad as a child, “It will get better before you get married!”  

So there I was last week, missing my grandma and feeling sad that I could not attend her funeral.  I was also pouting because I knew my husband and I would not be able to go out for dinner for our anniversary or my birthday.  On top of that, I had limited resources to plan anything for my mom’s 50th birthday.  Just then, I saw a Facebook message from my friend Katie.  Seeing her profile picture brought back dear memories.

I sang for Katie and Alex’s marriage this summer.  On their wedding day, the pure joy in their eyes was unmistakable.  Throughout their engagement, Alex served in the U.S. Army, being deploying in Afghanistan for many months at a time.  Years of waiting and praying led to an abundance of relief and gratitude to finally be married.  Now, shortly after their honeymoon, Katie has returned to graduate school in Indiana, while Alex is stationed on an Army base in New York.   

Katie shared that although it is harder than ever to be apart, getting married was the best thing that ever happened to her.  She wrote how she had heard the song, “Blessings” by Laura Story recently and thought of me.  I found the song on YouTube.  A beautiful voice sang about how God always gives us what is best, even when the outcome brings sadness at first.  It was comforting to hear that message and to think of Katie and Alex’s joy in walking together down the straight, narrow road of love and service.   

Today, I feel peace mixed with sadness.  I have enjoyed a week of celebration with my family, filled with those simple joys that money cannot buy.  This is the first birthday I can remember when I will not hear Grandma Rose singing, “Happy Birthday, dear Amanda.”  I like to think she is singing to me from heaven today, this time with a choir of angels.   





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