Friday, July 26, 2013

A Week in the Life of a Boy

Jackson's had a rough week.  It started last Thursday when he was in timeout and this BB like object "jumped from the carpet and into his ear."  It was a miracle to say the least.  A miracle that warranted a visit to the doctor to get it removed.  

Then on Wednesday, after been told countless times to stop running in the house, he ran smack dab into the door facing (easy to do when you're wearing a hat over your eyes).  Within minutes of the collision, he had a knot on his forehead that popped out at least an inch and a half.  
And then to top it all off, that very same night, he got what I hope is his first and last motorcycle burn.  I'm sure you're all of aware of that elusive muffler burn that happens so often when riding (I've got a scar myself to show my familiarity with it).   
Fortunately, he bounces back quickly and doesn't let crazy stuff like this get him down.  UNfortunately, I see a lot more of these incidents in our future . . . these stories are reminiscent of stories I've heard from Brian's childhood, so I get the feeling we have a lot more to come.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Photo Friday

Since I haven't shared Jackson's birthday photos, I figured better late than never.  I know there are some of you out there that don't care when I post them, as long as you get to see this precious little face. :)

I had a little bit of mom guilt because I accidentally bought the trick candles.  He was more than a little frustrated that he couldn't get those candles out!

The present for both Jackson and for our FAMILY:  quieter drums!  He had a real set of drums that almost drove us batty--we are thankful that we have gained a little bit of our sanity back with the volume control on these electronic drums!
 Kids had a blast!
 The birthday boy taking his turn driving:
Cutest little four year old ever!

Monday, July 15, 2013

When Grief Brings Silence

There comes a point in extreme crisis when the silence becomes deafening.  Clayton was still in the NICU when that moment came for me.  I sat in the ACH cafeteria watching the interstate traffic, and I realized that I had absolutely nothing to say to my God.  And the silence reverberating back was just as poignant.  It was like this big black hole between the two of us, and I couldn't step forward for fear of falling into it.  It was a scary realization.   I didn't know how to deal with my anger and grief over Shawn's death.  I didn't know how to pray for Clayton.  I was literally stuck in this chasm of wanting to pray, but not having anything to say to the Father.  Day after day, I repeated over and over, "Lord, you know my heart."  I depended on others to intercede more specifically on our behalf.  I simply didn't have the words to pray.

 ". . . for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."  (Philippians 1:19)

What of this "black hole?"  Is it a good thing to have such a silence between us and God?  After years of reflection, I think it was indeed a necessary part of my grieving.  I heard a song just this last week with the lyric, "God is big enough for the whys."  And you know what?  He's big enough for the silence as well!  He is the Almighty; but he is also Abba . . . Father.   This is the same Father who watched as His newly created man chose disobedience.  The Father who watched time and again as His people chose to depart from Him.  The Father who watched His Son die horrifically on a cross. . .

He is truly "acquainted with grief!"  (Isaiah 53:3)

If anyone is familiar with A Change in Plans, it is our Father in Heaven, whose entire plan for this world was wrecked by sin.  And as He watches us live out life after The Fall, I can't help but think He grieves anew each time one of His children is hurting.  This wasn't His plan--wasn't His design!  The resulting hurts of this world must grieve His heart!  "The Lord said, 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt, I have heard them crying out . . . and I am concerned about their suffering.'" (Exodus 3:7)  Moreover, the God-Man Himself was grieved when His friend Lazarus died:  "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled . . . Jesus wept . . ." (John 11:33-35)

I think it is because of this "acquaintance with grief" that the Father knew we would require a supernatural helper to speak on our behalf.   When we have no words for prayer, when we know not how to utter our needs, "the [Holy] Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."  (Romans 8:26-27)  Because of this intercession, we can rest knowing the Father is still working for our good, even when we don't know how to express our need.  

For me, the silence was a time of renewing.  It was as if the Lord was sitting across the room from me, quietly waiting for me to join Him at His table once again.  The important key was that I didn't choose to get up and walk away from Him for good.  After months of silence, I began to slowly utter prayers of thanksgiving, and even prayers on behalf of others.  It was those small basic prayers that eventually led me back to a true conversation with God, a conversation that was deeper than ever before.  And almost ten years later, I have come full circle as I intercede in prayer for the needs of others.

These full circles?  That's the way the Lord works in our lives.  Nothing is without purpose.  Even a period of silence and heartache can yield a renewed hope and resolve.  A resolve to live for Him, and a resolve to bring others into His arms.  

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Take Me to The King

I created this slideshow soon after our 2013 Prayer Encounter.  Our congregation's journey into corporate prayer has come full circle--our people are better for it, and we see God working in marvelous ways.  
Only at His feet can we find true comfort and rest.  I pray that you, dear blog reader, regularly seek Him out.  

Monday, July 01, 2013

In Which We Say Goodbye

Well, it's 11:30 on Sunday night and the last thing I need to be doing is blogging (although a few of you out there are probably glad to see some signs of life on the ole' blog).  I've got a photo session tomorrow, invoices to send, and photos to edit.  And yet here I sit, trying somehow to give voice to my thoughts on the day that is almost over.  And instead of voice, all I have is tears.   

Today was our pastor's last day at our church.  He has pastored our church for the last 17 years and pastored Brian and me for the last 12 of those.  Yes, pastors come and go from churches.  They move around in ministry and congregations survive, just as ours will.  But as any significant life change does, this day has me reflecting on years passed.  Under Pastor Tim's leadership, Brian and I have grown both deeper and wider in our spiritual walk.  And he has taught us that the "preacher" can also be your dear friend. 

My tears have flowed freely tonight.  Yes, it is because I will miss our teacher and our friends.  But mostly it is simply because my mind keeps going back to The Day My World Changed.  I keep going back to that horridly uncomfortable room we said goodbye to Shawn in.  There we sat with our dead baby, shocked with the magnitude of the situation.  A handful of friends and family came in and out as we tried to share his little body with our loved ones.  The last to come in was Pastor Tim.  He sat with us as we held our first born.  Funeral Talk.  Our Baby is Dead Talk.  Then slowly it moved to Anything Talk.  Anything to keep from having to get up and hand Shawn back to the nurse.  I remember Tim graciously took photos of the three of us.  A mother.  A father.  A baby.  Photos that will always be burned in my memory, as they embody every emotion I've ever felt as a human being.  You just never forget the person that is present for that moment in your life.  And while we've had countless joyous times with Tim and Jamie, my heart has been stuck in that little room for most of the day.  

Tim and Jamie have been present during so many of our trials, tribulations, and celebrations.  A new chapter begins for us as we learn to navigate these moments without our friends physically at our side.  We will miss their words of encouragement and bent ears, but we are thankful they will still be by our sides in spirit as we travel on in this journey called life.