Better Late Than Never

For the challenge this week I started reading The Return of the King (J.R.R Tolkien).

I read the full series back when the movies first came out, and decided to re-read it a couple years ago.  I finished book 2 while we were in Jamaica, which was January of 2012!  So, needless to say there was a long delay between parts.

I decided now would be a good time to work on the last book.  I love the story (obviously, since I’m reading it again, haha!) and have always been impressed by Tolkien’s level of detail and depth.

I’ve also found, though, that such detailed writing makes it a slower read.  Which is actually a good thing for me at this point in time!

I mentioned, in Monday’s post, that I tend to get really engrossed in books and find it hard to stop reading.  So I picked this one as something I can read a little at a time and keep enjoying for a while.

I love reading new books, but sometimes it’s fun to re-visit old favorites too.  Anyone else enjoy some good reading this week?

 

Valleys to Rivers: Resources

The past couple posts have been pretty long, so today I’m simplifying things a bit!  I want to share a list of resources (books and songs) that I found to be helpful and encouraging following Faith’s death.

Books:

Bible – The very best book!!

Be Still, My Soul – edited by Nancy Guthrie.  A compilation of writings from a variety of people discussing God’s perspective, purpose, and provision in suffering.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense – James Dobson. Solid biblical encouragement to keep your faith strong during any difficult time.

A Grace Disguised – Jerry Sittser.  A man’s reflection on “how the soul grows through loss” based on his own experience.

Safe in the Arms of God – John MacArthur. Offers great Biblical encouragement and support about how you can know your baby is in Heaven.

I Will Carry You- Angie Smith. Especially for moms who have lost a baby, this is one mother’s story.

Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You – Nancy Tillman.  This is actually a childrens book, but it’s special to me when I think of Faith.

Good as  New – Barbara Douglass and Patience Brewster.  Another childrens book with special meaning to me.  I wrote about it here.

Songs:

  • Blessings – Laura Story
  • Build Us Back – Newsboys
  • Stay Strong – Newsboys
  • Lord (I Don’t Know) – Newsboys
  • Hello Lord – Sara Groves
  • Going Home – Sara Groves
  • He’s Always Been Faithful – Sara Groves
  • The Valley Song – Jars of Clay
  • The Hurt & The Healer – MercyMe
  • Homesick – MercyMe
  • Calmer of the Storm – Downhere
  • What Faith Can Do – Kutless
  • I’m Still Yours – Kutless
  • Even If – Kutless
  • Praise You in this Storm – Casting Crowns
  • Help Me Find It – Sidewalk Prophets
  • Need You Now – Plumb
  • Not for a Moment – Meredith Andrews
  • If I Stand – Rich Mullins
  • Hold Me Jesus – Rich Mullins
  • Hard to Get – Rich Mullins
  • With Hope – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Out of these Ashes – Steven Curtis Chapman
  • Worn – Tenth Avenue North
  • Every Season – Nicole Nordeman
  • Nothing is Wasted – Jason Gray
  • Find You on my Knees – Kari Jobe
  • Faithful God – Gateway Worship
  • Never Once – Matt Redman
  • I Will Carry You – Selah
  • Visitor from Heaven – Twila Paris

 

 

 

Check It Off The List

I love lists.  I love checking things off lists when they are complete.  Sometimes, if I delayed in writing my list, I’ll put something on there that I already finished just so I can check it off!

I’m nearing the end of my February break, one of those great perks of being a teacher.  I thoroughly enjoyed some time to relax, as well as the chance to catch up on some ongoing projects that have been on my list.

I finally cleaned out my giant stack of magazines, some from as far back as 2009, yikes!  I skimmed through them and tore out any pages with things that might be worth saving… recipes mainly, but also a few craft/decor ideas.  It went from this…

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to this…

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The collection of pages went into a folder, which is now a major space saver in my magazine basket!

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The next step is to make sure I actually look back in this folder and try the recipes/ideas in the near future.  If not, I guess I can clean out again!

Another big check off the list was painting the trim downstairs.  I started the painting project before the school year began and all that remained was the baseboard and trim around the doors.  I’m glad to have it all done, looking fresh and clean.

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There were other projects too of course, but all work and no play is no way to spend a break, right?!  So I spent some time with family, read this book (in one day, haha)…

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and spent time hanging out with this cute pup…

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I’m feeling thankful for a restful break and the chance to check some things off the list!

Missing Her

It’s different now.  Different than it was at first.  Different than it was just a couple months ago.  It is almost impossible to put into words, to find a way to describe the emotions and thoughts that come and go and change as time passes.

It’s been 8 months.  I miss her, but it is a different kind of missing now.

It used to be so tangled up and messy.  I missed everything all at once.  The excitement and anticipation, the baby we thought we would raise, the dreams of who our child would be, the life I thought I would live, the innocence that was gone…

Now I miss her.

It’s more settled and simple.  Almost peaceful in some way.  Like how you miss someone you love when you have to be apart and you don’t know how long it will be until you see them again… you miss them but you look forward to that reunion.

I picture Faith, not as a baby, but as a little girl of about 5 years old.  Perhaps that sounds strange, but when I imagine her in Heaven that’s what comes to mind.  Maybe I think of her that way because I like to picture her being big enough to run to greet me, but small enough for me to pick her up and twirl her around in my arms.

I love the last chapters of the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia.  The joy of the reunion as the characters all meet again in “the real Narnia” always stuck with me.

Can I truly imagine what our reunion will be like?  At the start of our eternity together in Heaven?  The purest joy beyond anything I have ever felt.

Until then, I’ll be missing her.

And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after.  But for them it was only the beginning of the real story.  All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. ~The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis

A Waste of Time

My Mom lent me a book recently.  I read it in a couple sittings and loved it.  I highly recommend it!

It’s called The Walk, written by Richard Paul Evans.  I’m not going to give away much about the book here.  I love to read and wouldn’t want a story spoiled for me, so I figure if you want to read it I shouldn’t spoil it for you either.

But I will share a quote that stood out to me.  In fact, as I was reading this book I kept a mental list of all the quotes that were so perfect for me right now.  I’ll just stick with one tonight but maybe there will be more to come later.  Here it is…

“Humans waste far too much time worrying about things that will never befall them.  It’s my experience that the greatest tragedies are the ones that don’t even cross our minds…”

How true this is of me.  I have a tendency to worry.  It’s a trait I don’t like about myself, a habit I’m trying to break.  But it’s tough sometimes.

When I was pregnant I thought I was pretty cautious.  I tried not to get my hopes up early on.  We didn’t tell many people until after the 1st trimester.  I knew there were (are) a lot of things that can go wrong.  And I certainly worried about some of them.

But never once did it cross my mind to worry about something like hydrops.  Never once did I imagine I would have to deliver our baby at 32 weeks, knowing she had a 50% chance of dying, and then come home without her.

A lot of good worrying did me then!  And yet I keep doing it now.  Like I said, it’s tough sometimes.

I truly do believe it is better not to worry, even if my actions don’t always show that.

I know worrying is a waste of time.  Worrying keeps us from enjoying the moment because we focus instead on the what-ifs that may never happen.  Or maybe they will.  But what difference does it make to worry?  Does it change anything?  It doesn’t.  It only makes us miserable along the way.

Now I’m not saying we should have a pessimistic attitude that “bad things happen anyway, so why worry?”  Bad things happen, that is true.  But good things happen too.  And we should remember that both the good and the bad in life will happen whether we worry or not.

Of course I am repeatedly drawn to those words in Matthew chapter 6.  I am reminded again and again that God is in control and that He tells me not to worry.  I’ll keep trying, and I’ll keep praying for His strength to help me push away those anxious thoughts.

I know how precious and fragile life is… why waste it in worry?

 

 

Good As New

I read a book yesterday, one of my childhood favorites.  It’s called Good As New, written by Barbara Douglass and illustrated by Patience Brewster.  My copy was given to me when I was just one year old, and is signed by the illustrator.

I had gone into the spare room (which would have been the nursery) to put something away and I just stood there for a few minutes.  I sat down on the chair in the corner and my eye caught this book on the bookshelf.  So I decided to read it.  Out loud.

Yeah I know, this may make me sound a little crazy, but I think I needed those moments.  It’s helpful for me in some way to be in that room and think of her.  Reading has always been one of my favorite things, and I was so looking forward to reading books with our baby someday.

I held Faith’s blanket, dress, and hat on my lap while I read.  And I cried.  I cried because I can’t hold her on my lap instead.  And I cried because the words of this story I know so well suddenly meant something brand new.

The story tells of a little boy and his teddy bear.  His cousin comes to visit and, after throwing a tantrum, takes the bear and proceeds to totally ruin it… we’re talking smooshing peanut butter on it’s face, drenching it with a garden hose, and burying it in the sand.

As you can imagine, the boy is devastated that his favorite bear is ruined.  But his grandpa steps in and says, “I can fix that bear so he’ll be good as new in no time.”

The story continues as the grandpa works on fixing the bear.  But along the way it looks to the little boy as if he is destroying it even further.  The boy can’t watch as his grandpa cuts the bear open at the seam and pulls out the stuffing.

“Grandpa, are you sure this is the right way to fix my bear?”, he asks.

Grandpa keeps working, scrubbing so hard to remove the peanut butter that the ears fall off.

“Grandpa! I’m not sure this is the right way to fix my bear”, the boy says, holding the ears in his hands.

When they’re finally ready to put new stuffing in the bear the boy still has his doubts, “Grandpa?  Are you sure…”

And suddenly I was both that little boy and that bear.

Some days I feel like the stuffing is pulled out of me.  I’m hanging on a line to dry, soaked and emptied, with parts of me missing.  And in my prayers I wonder, “are you sure this is the right way God?  I’m not sure this is the right way.”

But God keeps on working.  Because He knows what He’s doing.  Faith’s death changed the way I wanted my life to be.  From the outside it might look ruined.  But God isn’t intimidated by what the world sees as damage.  He knows what He is doing in my life and how every bit of my life still works toward my ultimate good.

And He’s not daunted by my questions.  Because I honestly don’t understand how this will work towards good.  Maybe I will see it in some way down the road, or maybe I will have to wait until Heaven to know.  But I know these words are true, even if I don’t understand how…

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

When the grandpa finally hands the bear back to the boy, he looks over it carefully and says, “I thought you could fix anything.  But this bear isn’t good as new.”

It’s quiet for a moment, then the boy hugs his grandpa and shouts, “It’s better than new!”

I can’t tell you that I see that now in my life.  But I can tell you that I trust God fully.  There will come a day when I can see Him face to face (and hopefully hug Him too, not sure how that works!).  And on that day, I am sure, I will have no doubts as I say, “this is better than new”.

 

PS You should buy this book if you ever find it!  Sadly I’m not sure if it’s even for sale in bookstores anymore.  There’s no intent to infringe on any copyright here, so I will note that all (pictures of) illustrations and all quotes are taken from Good As New by Barbara Douglass, illustrated by Patience Brewster, published by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books – New York © 1982

Pages

I finished my journal today.

It may not surprise you, since I enjoy blogging, that I also like to keep a journal.  I think I’ve been journaling fairly consistently since I was 16 or 17 years old.  When we were cleaning out the spare room to turn it into a nursery, I found a stack of about eight or so journals.  I kept them all of course and they are safely stored away now.

I like to look back.  I like to re-read my thoughts from years past.  To see how life has changed.  To see how I have changed.  I like to reminisce about special memories… to be able to re-live some of my favorite moments in time through the words on the page.  And I like to see how the questions and struggles of the past have impacted the present.

My current journal was started in January of 2011.  It’s funny how time seems so vast, and yet over a year and a half of my life is fairly well summed up in a book I can hold in my hand.

Those pages saw me finish grad school and start a teaching job.  Those pages recorded camping trips, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.  Sometimes those pages simply held the every day activities of normal life… a testament to the continual passing of time.

Those pages were the first to see the news that I was pregnant, as I wrote while waiting anxiously for Steve to come home.  In those pages I shared all my excitement and joy over our coming baby.  I wrote about how much we already loved our little “Babins” and about how happy we were for the new adventure that was going to change our lives forever.

And on those pages I wrote about the deepest pain and sorrow I have ever felt.  The words I never could have pictured writing are there on the day she was born.

As I wrote my last words today I couldn’t help thinking about how fragile life is.  Everything that happened in Faith’s life occurred during a span of time that is less than what is contained in that journal.  That’s a strange and sad thought to me.  I had hoped to fill many pages with stories about my baby girl.  I would have loved to buy her a journal of her own someday… a place for her to record even the simplest details of her life.

I’m glad I have this journal as a record, but I am sure these pages will always be some of the hardest to look back on.  There is no way, when I started writing in January of 2011, that I could have imagined how it would end.

I have another journal ready to begin.  My story will continue day by day and I do not know what the next pages will contain.  But I pray that those pages will see renewed hope and joy.  Lord, may it be so!