The Way She Is With Us

In the song that woke me up this morning, the words replaying in my head as I drove to school…

Even if You take it all away, You’ll never let me go.  Take it all away, but I still know that I am Yours.

In watching as Natalie picked flowers and set them on her stone…

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In the candle that glowed on our shelf tonight while Natalie sang “Jesus Loves Me” in the background…

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In the stories we read together while we cuddled before bed…

I wanted you more than you will ever know, so I sent love to follow wherever you go.

In the way we love each other and the joy we find in the simple moments together.  In the hope we have through Him.  In the promise of seeing her and knowing her someday, together in that place where no candle or light of any kind is needed…

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:5)

In these and so many other ways she is with us.  Always in our hearts even though she is not in our arms.

We love you Faith.

What’s Next?

Last week, eating lunch in my quiet classroom, I stared at the paper in front of me, blank except for the heading “Summer 2015”.  I had already made a couple lists for summer but I was mulling over some bigger, more long term things.  Things that were uncertain… hopes and questions and possibilities… and I was trying to somehow wrestle them onto the page so they made more sense.

Finally I just leaned back and sighed.  You can’t plan your whole life, I told myself.  I put the paper away and tried to follow my own advice.

Unfortunately, that’s really hard for me.  I love to plan.  I love to have something on the horizon that I’m looking forward to.  I like to consider different scenarios, play them out in my mind, and try to prepare for what might be coming.

I don’t think planning is a bad thing.  But sometimes it becomes too much of a focus for me and I start grasping for a hold over things I can’t control.  It’s in those times that I need to remind myself that God is in control.  Sometimes I need to simply wait, trust, and pray for patience.

Have you ever felt like everything was falling into place perfectly, only to have it change in the end?  That happened to me, in a huge and incredibly difficult way, when Faith died.  It happened again, in a significantly smaller way, yesterday.

There was a job opportunity that I was really excited about and, to be totally honest, was also pretty confident would work out.  It seemed to make sense in so many ways.  It seemed like everything was lined up just right.

But it didn’t happen.

I’m disappointed.  I’m frustrated and unsure of what’s next.  Truthfully I can just keep going as I have been for the past few years, nothing really has to change.  From the outside that probably makes sense.

But on the inside I feel like this could be the start of something else.

One of my initial reactions, after hearing the news, was to start considering different plans, to start setting up those imaginary scenarios in my head.  That always seems to be my natural response!

But the truth is I don’t know what my plans should look like and I don’t want to try to make them on my own.  I want to trust God.  I want to be open to His leading.  I want to be patient and take it one step at a time.

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

I sang Rich Mullins’ wonderful song – Sometimes by Step (live version here) – to Natalie while I pushed her in the swing this morning.  This is my prayer as I seek God’s plan and purpose for me, “step by step You’ll lead me and I will follow You all of my days.”

I have already seen His hand work mightily in the biggest of challenges, I know He is here working in the smaller ones as well.  “I may falter in my steps, but never beyond Your reach”.

What’s next?  I will wait, and pray, and see.

 

 

 

Little Girl in a Big World

The weather is finally nice and I feel like we’re coming out of hibernation!  It is wonderful to be able to go outside every afternoon.  Natalie and I have been enjoying stroller rides, blowing bubbles, swinging, and exploring the great outdoors.

I love her curiosity and enthusiasm.  Pine cones are a favorite item to collect, but she’ll pick up and inspect pretty much anything.  She also ate dirt the other day when I turned my head for a moment to check on Jackson.  Way to go mom, haha!

Sometimes she likes to have me right next to her, but other times she ventures out on her own, checking back once and a while to make sure I’m still close by.  There are days when I feel like she’s growing so fast, but seeing her out there in the yard I was reminded how little she really is.

A little girl in a big world.

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It’s funny… that’s how I feel too.  This world is a big place and I’m just a tiny part of it.

On those days when life feels really “normal” and the routine gets mundane I wonder what kind of impact my little life is making.  Am I doing something significant?

On the days when life feels challenging and the future is full of questions I wonder where my little life is headed.  Am I on the right track?

I think (or at least I hope!) those thoughts and questions are normal.  I think we all want to feel like we have a purpose and a plan, but we don’t always know what it is or where we fit in the grand scheme of things.

It would be pretty intimidating and even discouraging to me… if it weren’t for the promises and presence of God.

I know that He made me for a purpose and that He knows me better than anyone else.  I know that He can use me to accomplish great things for Him, and I want to be ready and willing to follow His lead.

These lyrics, from the song Little Is Much by Downhere, express so well the question and the answer…

What is the measure of a life well lived
If all I can offer seems too small to give

Little is much when God’s in it
And no one can fathom the plans He holds
Little is much when God’s in it
He changes the world with the seeds we sow
Little is much, little is much

Even more importantly, this passage from 1 Corinthians speaks a beautiful truth…

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

It doesn’t matter how small I feel because God is working through me.  On the mundane days, on the crazy days, and on every day in between, He is present and He has a purpose.  What a wonderful peace that brings!

Just as Natalie has the courage to wander off into the yard , I pray I will confidently go forward following God’s will for me.  And just as Natalie stopped to smile back at me, making sure I was still watching, I pray I will never lose my focus on the God who is in control.

So thankful that He is with His little girl in this big world.

 

How Many Kings?

Christmas is tomorrow.  Our tree is sparkling in the front window with presents wrapped beneath it, a special dinner is waiting to be cooked for our Christmas Eve celebration, our advent wreath is ready to be lit, Christmas music is playing as I sit here typing…

.. and, in the dining room, a little nativity scene is on display.

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How often do you stop and really think about what that nativity represents?  I wonder if we’ve become so familiar with it that we forget how incredible it truly is.

God came to earth.  God, the Creator and sovereign King of the world, as a baby.  Humbled and helpless.  Incarnate deity.

This isn’t just a tradition to me.  It isn’t some story that we read out of habit or a desire to feel “religious” at Christmas.  This is the truth.  This is the foundation of my life.  This is the reason we celebrate, the reason I have hope and joy and a future.

A baby in a manger who was God’s own Son.  Jesus, the long awaited Savior who would later die and rise again to pay the ransom for my sins because He loves me… because He loves you.

The words of the song How Many Kings (Downhere) are so powerful to me.  I hope you’ll read the chorus below and truly reflect on what these lyrics mean.  This is the truth of Christmas – God’s love for our world, for each and every one of us.  May His love surround and fill you today and always.  Merry Christmas!

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Only one did that for me.

Through Valleys of Sorrow to Rivers of Joy

As Faith’s 2nd birthday approaches, I’ve been reflecting on a lot of things.  The words of a Jars of Clay song have resonated with me lately…

I will sing of Your mercy, that leads me through valleys of sorrow, to rivers of joy

Toward the end of the song, after those lyrics are sung, there is a weighty pause.  The music stops.  The singing stops.  For a few seconds there is silence.  And then the singer says one simple word – “yeah”.

That part always gives me goosebumps.

To me, the silence feels so full.  It’s as if everything comes down to that moment.  You can say the words, but do you really believe them?

In that pause I let it sink in…

I will sing of Your mercy, that leads me through valleys of sorrow, to rivers of joy

… and I can say “yeah” with confidence.

Yes, it is true.  Yes, I do believe it.  God has led me and has been with me always.  He was there in the midst of the valley of sorrow and He is here with me now as I feel new rivers of joy filling my life.  His mercy is constant through it all.

Not only can I sing those words in truth, I can also sing “allelujah” in praise.

Life is very different now than it was two years ago.  I am different now.  But God is the same and nothing can change who He is.  Not the deepest valley of sorrow, nor the fullest river of joy.  I am so thankful for His steadfast love, grace, and mercy.

Over the next few days, I’m going to try something new for my blog and do a series.  Through the remainder of this week I’ll share a post each day related to my thoughts and reflections on this journey through the valley to the river.

I’m going to share some of my experiences that, I hope, might be able to help someone else going through a valley of their own, whether related to the loss of a child or something different.  I also want to share some thoughts that could possibly be of use to family and friends looking to support a loved one during a difficult time.  And, in the end, I will try to find the right words to express the place I am now in relation to Faith.

I hope you’ll join me!

valleys to rivers

 

 

 

 

Bought with the Precious Blood

Happy Resurrection Day everyone! 

I don’t have much time to write today, but I wanted to share the words of a song that I love.  It captures well the truths of Christ’s love for us… that He took on flesh, gave His life, and rose again to save us.

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What joy to know that “sin’s curse has lost its grip on me; for I am His and He is mine – bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For every sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Nothing is Wasted

I heard this song on the radio a couple nights ago and it’s been running through my head, and my heart, ever since.  The message is beautiful and I find such comfort in it.  The chorus is simple, but I know it to be true.

Nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

I see this in my life, the way the hurt and the tears and the broken pieces are still used by Him.  I love these words… But what if every tear you cry, will seed the ground where joy will grow. 

It makes me think of Psalm 30:5 – “… Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

I know that God has been, and still is, working in my life every single step of the way.  I believe, as the song says, that every broken piece is gathered in the heart of Jesus and what’s lost will be found again.

We’re 35 weeks today.  There are no guarantees, I certainly know that, but I feel hopeful.  It’s starting to seem more real, that we actually could bring this little girl home with us.

I pray that we will.

She has already brought us so much joy and I can only imagine how much more joy will come if we have the privilege of raising her.

I’m thankful to be at this point.  I am thankful that, despite the lingering questions and fears that sometimes creep in, I feel at peace knowing God is with me and He is in control.

Sometimes we are waiting, in the sorrow we have tasted, but joy will replace it, nothing is wasted.