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.

Scattered and Sleepless

I felt so rested and refreshed after break.  Only 4 days back and I feel like I never left!

My days are busy and full and my thoughts are scattered.  There’s something about a bunch of kids asking questions about 12 different subjects that really leaves your mind feeling like mush at the end of the day!  But I still love it, so I can’t complain.

Needless to say, tonight I’m giving my brain a break… and watching Sleepless in Seattle.  It puts a smile on my face.  Wow, how young Tom Hanks looks!

I couldn’t help but notice how the words he says on the radio had a new meaning to me now… “Well, I’m going to get out of bed every morning, breathe in and out all day long.  Then after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed in the morning and breathe in and out.”

I know that feeling.  And I’m thankful I don’t have to remind myself anymore.

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?

 

 

Open House

Another week of teaching is in the books and now I’m enjoying the first day of a long Columbus Day weekend.  The job is going well, and I am feeling more and more settled in with each passing week.

On Thursday night we had open house.  What an experience!  It’s pretty entertaining to watch adults wandering through the school carrying maps of the building and still being constantly lost.  I heard quite a few commenting on how much walking their kids do every day!

Since I have pretty small classes I wasn’t expecting a huge turnout, and I was right.  But I really enjoyed talking to those parents I did get to meet.

It touched my heart to hear and see how much these parents want their children to succeed, and how much they love their kids no matter what.  These parents acknowledge the struggles their children may have, but those struggles don’t define them.  They appreciate the qualities that make their children unique.

I didn’t have the chance to know my daughter here on earth, but as soon as I saw her I felt an amazing unconditional love take over.  In some way I think I understand those parents better than I would have without Faith, and I’m grateful to her for that.

I had prepared to give a little talk about our classroom if I had a lot of people show up, but ended up having more personal discussions instead as there was most often just one family present at a time.

If I had the chance, though, I would have shared this quote.  I saw it last fall on the wall in the Museum of Natural History when we went to NYC.

“Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground.  Courage, hard work, self-mastery, and intelligent effort are all essential to successful life.  Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual…” -Theodore Roosevelt

I think I’ll share this with my students next week.  They are the perfect words to capture what I hope we can accomplish in my class.  I hope I can inspire my students to succeed in school, but even more so, to develop character that will carry them through the rest of their lives.

An Unexpected Journey

Check it out… the 2nd official trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  I am so looking forward to this movie!  Last December I shared the first trailer and commented that it seemed a bit mean to put out a trailer a year in advance.  It’s still a few months away, but we’re certainly getting closer!

I love the line Gandalf says when Galadriel asks him why he chose Bilbo to join their journey… “Perhaps it is because I’m afraid, and he gives me courage”.

I could certainly say that about God.

There are many steps in my journey of life that make me afraid, more so in these days surrounding and following June 15th than ever before, and I am so very thankful that God is with me because He gives me courage.

This week I prayed He would give me courage as I started the next part of my unexpected journey… a new job.

I had been planning to be home with our baby at this point, but plans have changed… instead I am back in the classroom.  I began my new teaching job on Monday and I’ll warn you in advance that the blogs may be a bit sporadic in the coming weeks as I get myself back into the swing of things!  I’ll do my best though.

After working previously as a long term sub, this is my first full time teaching job!  For privacy sake I won’t name the school, but I will give a few details.  This position is in special education, which is different from the past when I was in biology.  Although I will really miss teaching bio, the students I am working with are great so far.

It is a resource room position which will be a learning process for me, but I hope that the smaller setting of my classroom will give me the opportunity to get to know each student better.  I am working with both freshmen and seniors, separately of course!

I am very thankful for the job, especially since it came up at the last minute (the school year already started a couple weeks ago) and is in a wonderful district.  It will be good to be teaching again and getting more experience in the field.

At the same time, it seems strange to be heading off to work when for so long I had pictured myself being at home.  It makes the loss of our baby feel even more official, if that makes any sense at all.  I’m starting a new job because my baby is gone.  Such finality.

And that is the unexpected part of the journey, right?  Easy?  No way.  It is so very hard sometimes.  But I do believe it’s the right thing for me now.

I’m praying and hoping that I can impact these kids in a positive way.  I will be encouraged if I can really make a difference in their lives. Because if Faith had lived, I wouldn’t be in this position… and it will help me to see some good coming (indirectly) from her death if I can make their lives better even in some small way.

I’m tired out already and looking forward to the weekend to regroup from my first week.  I’ll keep trying to take it one step at a time.  And as I walk this unexpected, and at times very difficult, journey I will keep reaching for God… because when I’m afraid, He gives me courage.

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