This Memorial Day I ponder my great gratitude for those who have served in the cause of freedom and my own family members who have lived and died with such love and commitment to family and goodness. There is no way to measure the power of these sacrifices, but I am forever grateful for them.
Today as I prepare to take a few flowers to the cemetery, I am reminded of a very special event that happened in our life quite a few years ago. While at the cemetery I will visit the graves of some people I have never met, but who brought a greater understanding of God’s love for each individual on this earth. Here is the story I wrote soon after it happened in about 1990:
One unusually quiet Saturday morning, I found myself leisurely sitting at the kitchen table visiting with my husband Tom. This was a moment to treasure considering we have six children and tranquil moments were few and far between. In addition, he was usually off to work before 6:00 a.m.
Tom is a welder by trade, and worked in a fabrication and pipe shop then. He had recently started a part-time business building ornamental iron items for people. This work usually entailed handrails, security doors, ornamental fencing, furniture, and other custom jobs. Each order presented its own set of challenges and rewards.
On this particular day, he described a customer request that was causing him uncertainty. He had been approached by a couple who had recently lost their son in a tragic accident. It was their desire to have an ornamental iron cross placed as a grave marker for the young man. Living in Wyoming, we had never seen this type of grave marker and Tom hadn’t any idea what to design. The couple didn’t have any certain image in mind either. They just asked him to come up with a drawing to show them for approval.
As we visited about this unusual request, his creativity was gone and so was his confidence. Suddenly the ringing of our phone interrupted the conversation. In answering, I heard my friend Nancy’s cheerful voice.
“Hi Cindy, this is Nancy, what are you doing this morning?” she asked.
“Well, to tell you the truth, we were just sitting here talking about a request Tom received from a customer. He doesn’t know what to do.”
“Oh,” she replied. “What does the customer want?”
I then repeated the conversation to her, thinking she could probably sympathize with the family wanting the marker, as well as our desire to make a cross that would meet their expectations and bring the comfort that they needed at the time. Nancy’s answer was even more unexpected than the customer’s request.
“Oh, so do you mean a cross like the ones in the German Russian cemeteries in North Dakota?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I don’t know about cemeteries there.”
“Well, in North Dakota they have whole cemeteries filled with ornamental iron crosses.” She made the statement as if anyone would know this little kernel of information.
“Really?” I answered. “How do you know this?”
Her next answer actually gave me chills in my spine. “I have genealogical magazines from the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia (AHSGR) with pictures of them.”
“You’re kidding aren’t you?” I asked in amazement.
“Oh no, I have stored them in the attic of my garage, but I know right where they are. Just give me a few minutes and I will bring them over.”
When I hung up the phone, Tom asked me what all that was about. Neither of us could believe how serendipitous the call was. In a short time, Nancy arrived with several magazines picturing ornamental iron grave markers. Right before our eyes, the pages revealed one beautiful cross after another.
Tom showed the images to his customers, who chose an ornate cross with fine, delicate scrollwork. He was then able to adapt that design to the size they wanted. In a matter of weeks the finished cross was standing in the beautiful, shady serenity of the Highland Cemetery in Casper, Wyoming.
As this miracle unfolded, I became even more aware of God’s love for his children on the earth. I knew He was aware of these grieving parents and their desire for this specific type of cross. God also knew an amateur craftsman in our town who could accomplish the job. Lastly, He knew that in the garage of my friend Nancy, were pictures of the exact crosses that we could use for a pattern. He caused the timing of each element of this miracle to happen precisely when needed, in order to bless the lives of all involved. One feels very humbled to know that the Lord was including us in this special experience to answer the prayers of others.
Back in realtime here, Tom had the opportunity in the last year to make another cross for the mother of that fine son. It is now next to his as they lay to rest together, awaiting the resurrection as promised and facilitated by our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 7:7 — “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
John 16:23 — “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.”
Psalms 37:7 — “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him …”