05.22.21 – Knocking on Heaven’s Door(s)

Journal entry by Vicki Bunke 

On Mother’s Day weekend, I had the chance to swim in the first of my 14-city Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour 2021 open water events. It took place at Northshore Park in St Petersburg where we all swam together in the Tampa Bay to raise money for cancer research.

Many people have asked me how the weekend went. I told them that it was incredible and far exceeded what I anticipated or expected. In other words, I felt bizarrely blessed.

Others have asked how I felt before and during the swim. I admitted that I felt emotional and humbled. And thankful that I had physically prepared as it was more challenging than I had estimated given the ocean’s current and waves.

And some have asked what I was thinking about while I was swimming. I shared that I was thinking about doors. Two different doors to be exact.

What? I was thinking about doors? Two doors while swimming a mile in the Tampa Bay? Yes, I was absolutely thinking about two doors.

Let me explain.

As you may recall, toward the end of Grace’s life and while she was still feeling ok (ok by Grace’s standards, not the world’s), we had a little fun with the designated name on her hospital room door. We changed it each day to something that made her laugh and we thought might entertain her medical team. Her room label was G. Trump, G. Chrisley, G. Saban, and G. Spears to name a few. But then things got a little more serious for Grace and we decided that the fun-with-the-name-on-the door had run its course. So, we changed it to G. Winns and it remained that way until we left on March 25th.

You may also remember that Grace’s room number was Room 575. Guess what number symbolizes God’s grace and goodness and is mentioned 318 times in the Bible? The number 5. And guess which number is used 735 times and is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual)? The number 7. Which meant one thing…Grace’s hospital room number could be represented by the following:

Grace. Perfect. Grace.

One of the Aflac nurse practitioners was even kind enough to write out these numbers in Hebrew and we placed it under her room door plaque.

But that just explains Door #1. And I claimed that I was thinking about two doors.

The weekend prior to leaving for the Tampa Swim Across America Tour, I repainted Caroline’s room. As I was painting the door to her room, I saw something I had never noticed before. Prior to Grace’s last departure from our home, she not only decorated the slats below Caroline’s bunk bed, but she also drew a name plate for Caroline’s bedroom door. It is small and simple and includes Caroline’s name above some water waves. That’s all.

Or so I thought. As I was painting Caroline’s bedroom door, I noticed an important detail that I had never seen before. Underneath each wave, Grace drew a cross.

A cross.

As I was reminded last week in church by Kelly Brumbeloe, “Storms are inevitable in life.” I agree. Grace would certainly agree. But what holds you up? What or Who holds you up and above each wave? Who holds you up and above each wave in the storms of life?

Grace knew Who held her up over each crescendo and crash of life’s waves. But more importantly, she wanted to remind her younger sister in her absence about what she knew. And how did she remind Caroline of this important fact? Did she lecture her? No. Did she preach to her? No. Did she write out scripture? No.

Rather, Grace made Caroline a simple name tag from paper and markers to hang on her door. A door that Caroline has entered and exited every day since March 25, 2018. And every time she walks through her bedroom door, Caroline is reminded of how much her older sister loved her. But more importantly, she is reminded of Who she needs to have in her life to endure and overcome the waves and storms in life.

That is what I was thinking about while swimming a mile in the Tampa Bay on Mother’s Day weekend. And quite honestly, I can’t imagine that I will experience a more meaningful Mother’s Day for the rest of my life. Maybe not until I walk through Heaven’s Door.

Here is glimpse of the weekend: Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour 2021 – Tampa

I’m reaching out, 
I’ll chase you down
I dare you to believe how much
I love you now
Don’t be afraid, I am your strength
We’ll be walking on the water, dancing on the waves

(We The Kingdom)

Tour Update: The next stop on The Amazing Grace Swim Across America Tour is July 9th in Detroit. Our team has raised over $37,000 thus far! Thank you for your generosity and support! But we still have a lot of swimming to do and a lot of money to raise for cancer research!

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