June 30, 2013

Very Important Post (VIP, if you will)

Google is making a huge change tomorrow so it's important that I get this posted today.

Google Reader is officially going away at midnight tonight. That means if you're subscribed to my blog through Google Reader, you will no longer be able to keep up with it. I like having you around and I hope you like sticking around. So I do and if you do then.....I think we should.

Switch to Bloglovin that is.

I switched about two-ish months ago and it took me a short time to get used to it but now I love it. And since you can import the blogs you follow from Google Reader straight to Bloglovin, it makes transitioning very easy.

Just click here to learn how to switch from Google Reader to Bloglovin.

Ok, moving on.

If you don't know me in real life you might not know that I love sunshine. Love, love, love. I also love water and letting my boys get out and get dirty. We've had days upon days of beautiful weather here lately so I've taken the boys outside every chance we have. Yesterday Matt and I decided to take the boys to one of the streams that runs through town and let them throw rocks and get dirty and wade in the water to their heart's content.

(Warning: lots of pictures ahead.) (Also: these are all straight out of camera, no editing.)

 Don't worry, I told him not to drink the water (after taking a few pictures). 
Silly giardia. (I originally typed gonorrhea. That too.) 

Wrong way, Asher!

 Big rock splash!

This is not what you think it is. Although what it actually is, I'm not really sure.

Post-water and sun fun. A little Curious George to give us all a rest.

Hope you had a great weekend too, filled with lots of sun and fun.

June 25, 2013

I Wouldn't Trade This Journey (Yes, I Would)

Last week in my Bible study we were discussing some heartfelt and difficult things. At one point I said, I would never have chosen this journey but now I wouldn't trade it. And another girl who who has also experienced a similar loss said, I would. I would trade it. And it really made me think and I've been thinking about it ever since. Because really, I would trade it too. Give me my daughter back? Yes, please. Let's make this happen yesterday.

How can two conflicting things be true at the same time?

I would go back to those moments when I held Grace in my arms in a heartbeat and yet you couldn't pay me all the money in the world to go back to that day and the days following. I would not have chosen this journey but I also wouldn't trade it. I would both trade this journey in a moment and also not trade it for anything.

I think what I'm realizing is that I only want some things to be true from each reality. I want the feel of Grace's body snuggled up to mine and the feel of her sweet forehead as I kissed it over and over but I don't want the pain of knowing she was already gone and anticipating that excruciating moment of giving her away. I want the compassion and wisdom I've gained from suffering loss but I don't want to have to lose something precious to gain it.

I read this today:

Faith for my deliverance is not faith in God. Faith means, whether I am visibly delivered or not, I will stick to my belief that God is love. There are some things only learned in a fiery furnace. -Oswald Chambers

I could not have learned that God is immeasurably near and faithful in times of darkness unless I had been in the dark and seen it to be true. I could not have known that God will carry you when you do not have the strength to take one more step unless I had experienced such profound sorrow that I could only rest in his arms as we moved forward step by step, day after day. I would not have believed that I truly cannot control my life unless I had had all control taken away and learned that there is only One who holds my life. And he is trustworthy.

I remember one day in particular not long after we had originally gotten Grace's diagnosis at 16 weeks. I wrote this that day:

"I do trust the Lord. I know he's in this. Today I drove down a common street and my eyes flooded with tears as I was completely overcome with the nearness of the Lord to me so strongly in that moment I could have almost reached out and been held. The almost-audible voice that spoke profound hope and truth to my heart that he is in this.

Would I have appreciated the magnitude of that moment had I not been so desperate for him? I don't know. Perhaps. But I don't think that water is nearly as refreshing unless you've been dying of thirst nor food nearly as rich as when you've gone without for too long.

So I think what I'm getting at is I'm thankful. I'm thankful that God doesn't waste the pain in our lives. I'm thankful that we don't have to rely on "time" to heal us because time doesn't heal. God does. I'm thankful that if we let him he will use the pain to soften us and will guard us from hardened, bitter hearts. I'm thankful that I've learned that he is enough. When everything else isn't, he is.

"Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted." Isaiah 49:13

 On our way to an out of town wedding last weekend.

June 18, 2013

Father's Day and Suffering

I think about things differently since our lives changed with Grace. I was reminded of that this Father's Day. As I scrolled through Facebook that day there were about one thousand and five #1 Dads and Husbands of the Year. (I'm not sure how that works mathematically but people were pretty convinced so....)

I read other writers and bloggers who have lost children or are childless for other reasons like infertility and I couldn't help but think of them that day. I thought of all the dads who didn't get to be dads this year because of loss or unfulfilled dreams and what a difficult day it must have been for them. (And I hope for their sake they went on a long hike and avoided Facebook and TV and any other form of social media that day.)

Grace's diagnoses and ultimately losing her stripped away the bubble I'd been living in. The bubble that convinced me that those kinds of things don't happen to people like me. (Who's people like me anyways? An average human being breathing air like everyone else? That kind of people?) I might as well win the lottery if we're going to talk about "the odds" of something like that happening.

But guess what? It did. It happened to us. And I realized that I'm just like everyone else. I'm not exempt from loss and suffering any more than the next guy. And honestly, we're pretty insulated in this country from a lot of suffering. Which only heightens our sense of entitlement that God's "blessing" equals marriage, two cars, a house, 2.1 kids, and happily ever after. And quite frankly, I'm tired of it.

It's hard to read books like Kisses from Katie and see the wisdom and purpose gleaned from suffering and not be upset at The Bubble. She made such profound statements like, These people have genuine joy even when they have nothing else because Jesus is truly all they have.

We have Jesus and satellite TV. Jesus and air conditioning. Jesus and shopping. Jesus and The Bachelorette. (Stop judging.) Jesus and modern medicine.

And please understand me - alone, these things are not bad (except probably The Bachelorette....seriously, stop judging), but when it's not Jesus only, they start to take up enough places in our heart that they ultimately begin to substitute Jesus himself.

In these last months, I've often felt like the disciples when Jesus asked them if they were going to leave him too and Peter replied, Where would we go? You alone have the words of eternal life (John 6:67-68).

I've often wanted to run to Jesus and something these last months. It feels better temporarily. But where would I go? He alone has words of life. For the first time in my life things are so far out of my control it can only be Jesus only.

But it doesn't take long before the something else creeps back in. Which is why I love this verse from Hebrews 12:1,

...let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...

Every weight and sin. Not all things that hinder us are sin. But they can still hinder us from running with endurance. I need the reminder. I need the challenge. I need to be willing to ask the Lord what something else am I clinging to.

I told someone today that I would never have chosen this journey but now I wouldn't trade it. If it opens my eyes a little wider to the hurt and need around me, then I accept it. If it draws me closer to the softness of God's heart for him and for others, then I accept it. If it makes me less dependent on myself and more dependent on him, then I accept it. If it makes me hurt for the broken hearts who didn't get to be a father this year, then I accept it. If he uses our pain to comfort others, then I accept it.

I had heard this prayer quoted from a historical figure (can't remember who) a while back and I recently thought of it again and the profound truth contained in it:

Lord, to everything that has been - thank you. And to everything that will be - yes. 

Amen, no?

(We still had a good day on Sunday and got to celebrate with some good friends.)

Sweet Emmaline.

 Asher can usually be counted on to still be eating long after everyone else has moved on.

Not done yet. Round 23.

 This, my friends, is called irony.

 Micah got his clothes wet from the pool so we had to borrow from Amelia. 
We got a good laugh out of these.

 Love this friend. Sticks closer than a sister, she does.