Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Relatives

Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
as long as they keep their mouths shut, they're smart.
Proverbs 17:28 (The Message)



I know that, in life, it's honestly all relative.

For instance, the frustration felt by the housewife who is trying desperately to run a household which employs four gardeners and several housekeepers, battling the pressure to keep up appearances of perfection and the loneliness of isolation, can be crushing.

It's almost impossible to avoid the commentary that must address that, though: I should be so lucky to have the frustration of managing my housekeeper. I'm happy to pay all my bills this month, one woman says. I think I could make myself get over the whole "keeping up with the Joneses" thing-- let's see that lady deal with sucking up your pride at the grocery store when you run out of money at the cash register because you just knew you stuck two twenties in your purse, but there's only one.

Lady One argues back (in my mind), You don't know what I feel. You don't know the horror I deal with daily. At least your husband is home. At least he loves you. At least you know for sure that he's not sleeping with his secretary.

Lady Two considers her luck in that area, but barks back, At least your husband has a job.

And it can go on and on.

So I recognize that so many things are relative-- one person complains about their crappy car situation while his neighbor wishes getting his car fixed was the only thing on his list of things to do after dialysis. The guy with dialysis guy complains about his health while the woman in the butt kicking dream car next to him just lost her job, her home, and her best friend.

I'm not trying to bum anyone out. I promise. It's just kind of what I've been saying to myself about complaining lately. But then, I was listening to this woman talk (I didn't know her, so if we're friends and you had this same tirade in a grocery store lately, don't worry!! It's not you!)-- granted, she really seemed to have a lot on her, but I wanted to hit her in the face. I wanted to scream, "Shut your stupid mouth" and pull her hair.

Surprised? Sorry. I've only ever thought about doing things like that...

That woman was complaining about the curse and burden her two lovely children were to her today. She was tired. Her youngest son, an infant, has been colicky lately, and she was spewing complaints all over, wishing that he had a "mute" button (I've heard that one several times in the last two weeks-- so weird).

You know where I'm going with this...

That woman probably has other stresses that she's not as comfortable blabbing about in a public forum, but the anger I felt listening to her was directly related to this. "YOUR BABIES ARE ALIVE," I wanted to yell at her. At least your son has living tear ducts to cry from! You can hold him to your heart, lady, and he will eventually calm down, and I know you're tired, but you sound like a spoiled brat. You sound like that girl on Willie Wonka that everyone cheered for when she blew up (is that right? It's been so long since I saw that movie... I just remember that I hated her and we all clapped when she came to an end). You have everything, everything, and you want to mute your child?

Sigh.

But it's all relative. Maybe her husband is a jerk. Mine's pretty great. Maybe her living situation is rocky. Mine is stable and comfortable.

Or maybe she just doesn't know what she has.

Okay, I'm convicted. I'll pray for this stranger, that she will know as deeply as she has ever known anything that she is a mother who is richly blessed. And just like I need to cry out to the Father to help me remember how extraordinarily blessed I am, I will pray for her that she will remember the women who long for babies to comfort.

How different would this place be if we stopped complaining? If we were ever aware of how bad it makes us sound, and how it sometimes serves to highlight what other people lack? How amazing would this life be if we focused on the things that inspired our gratitude instead of the things that inspire our grief?

There's a key to something eternal here. If God is the point to everything-- every day, every mundane thing, all of our breaths and blinks of our eyes-- then it should all somehow lead back to Him.... My friend Matt used to say that the secret password into the Holy of Holies is "Thank you"....

4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise

Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Love it

Okay, I just have to say that I love my home. LOVE it.


It's an old, old house (built in 1880) that we renovated (I say "we" but I really mean our good friend Chuck, who is amazing) (there it is, in a photo from this past winter... so cozy). Chuck made it happen in just over four months... can you believe it? The house had been completely empty for over 35 years. And the Lord... oh, He is good. He knew exactly when to bring this place into our lives. I've loved it since I was a kid, and we bought it just a few months after Ben died. He knew we needed a project, a major distraction, and this was the most precious distraction ever.

We have prayed over this place so many times... together, separately, with friends, our pastor-- we have prayed that the Lord would use this place for ministry. That He would fill it up with His presence. And He has surely done it. It's heaven on earth to me.

But right now it's freaking HOT. I thought high ceilings would help keep it nice and cool in here... but I guess I should stop being such a miser and turn the air conditioning on, huh? :) We have it set to be almost completely off while we're at school-- but, um, it's summer time and we're home and we're having a heat wave in the southeast. Oh, and we're pathetic whining babies, too. We used to be able to take anything-- Don was in the Navy and I was a missionary, for goodness sake! Hellllooooo! Haiti was WAY hotter than this....

Anyway, the thing is, I'm completely stuck, design-wise. Take, for instance, the living room:


Lovely, isn't it?? Right now, though, it's boring. BOOOORING.

The room is way bigger than this, but I'm not on the computer with all the pictures on it right now.

Anyway, it's all very neutral because I'm all about getting cool accessories and all that.

But I'm stuck.

It's like, I am living in the house of my dreams-- literally, if anyone came to try to buy it from us, we wouldn't want a dime. We're here. We love our neighborhood, we love the yard, we love the flow of the house, we love it all. But I'm in here and afraid to scuff up the walls.

Is there some sort of deeper message here???

I keep thinking of that thing people always say-- life is short! Use the good silver! Eat dessert first! Don can patch up any holes you make in the walls! Rearrange the furniture! Buy interesting artwork (this I would have no problem with-- being furloughed last year cut into my design budget BIG TIME)! But I'm frozen! What if I screw up?? I have serious staging fright.

(clever, that bit)

So I'm open to all advice-- let me have it. If you have any cool design websites, I'm all about it. I like midcentury mixed with traditional and orange and red are awesome with me. And if you're an artist and you want to donate any awesome gigantic paintings to the cause, let's talk. The house will be on a tour of historic homes in the winter time and it'll be a cool way to get your work out there.... :)

Post your comment here or send me an email-- it's good either way. I just need HELP!!!! :)

Nurseries in Heaven

So, I'm reading this book.

And after reading a certain chapter, I closed the book and wept. And this is what I prayed:

Oh God, I do not know when this pain will go away. It doesn't feel like it did last year, but I'm sometimes surprised by the pain that shows up fast, out of nowhere-- the longing for my son. I've heard from women whose babies have died that they never "get over it"-- that the grieving looks different, but it always stays, even once they have other children to fill their arms. It has been a little over a year and sometimes it feels like it has been a day... it is so surreal.

But at the same time, I am not in despair, and I have to ask you, would you tell Ben that I love him tonight? Oh God, will you lean close to my son and whisper to him that his mother loves him? And that I miss him and I long for him, but Lord, I don't want to bum him out. I know that he exists, that he is alive somewhere, that he is with you, so just kiss and hug him and tell him that I love him so, so deeply. And if a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a moment, tell him that I'll be with him shortly-- even if that's 50 years from now-- and that I long for that day.

But here's this: Lord, I prayed for him-- I cried out to you for this child the way Hannah cried out for Samuel, and I told you before he was born that he was Yours for all the days of his life. I dedicated him to you. So I don't know how much sense this makes, but Lord, I pray that he still fulfills his destiny. I felt so strongly before he was born that you had created him to be a worshipper-- that my son was a musician, that he would glorify your name with his voice and his hands, so I pray that even in heaven, my son would fulfill his destiny. You knew that he would be with you early-- you knew the plans you had for him just like you knew the plans you had for me when I was born. I long for him, but I say yes to your plans. I say YES to your higher ways. I release him, as pitifully as I am able, into his destiny-- whatever that looks like. It's too high for me to understand. It's too supernatural. It's too otherworldly. It's so beyond me. He is with you, and to be with you in your presence has to be so much more alive than to be here in my presence. So again, I bless your plans. I thank you that I am his mother and that I will see him again one day, and I say let it be with him according to your will-- and I thank you that your will is perfect. And that you have given me so much peace.

Know that I feel perfectly kooky praying like that sometimes.

I mean, seriously-- praying "for" someone who is already dead? That doesn't even make sense to me. It's like, whatever-- game OVER, right?

But his life was just beginning. I have just had the hardest time accepting that it was over for him. Don and I have talked about it so many times, and we always end up talking about Ben in the present tense, wondering what God's plan for this whole thing was. Knowing that life on earth is a blip on the screen-- 80 years or more if we're lucky-- so it's entirely possible to have been created for something beyond life on this planet. That, like my friend Winter said so long ago, our sons' destinies were to be with the Lord early.

Ah, friends, we have hope, don't we?

I mentioned a book... I'm hesitant to put it here because, well, these types of books bring out the skeptic in me (which is funny to even say, and if you ever saw some of the prayer sessions I was a part of in the Schools of Intercession, Worship, and Spiritual Warfare in YWAM, you'd laugh at me calling myself a skeptic about anything prophetic, because we saw some amazing things in those prayer times-- though I confess, one of my biggest struggles as a believer has been "intellectualism"-- which is just a fancy way of saying that my dork mind has the temerity to actually think it's smarter than God).

Anyway, I'm totally putting the book title in here and I'm going to type an excerpt, too, because I was profoundly blessed while I read. So far, every single word the author has written has brought glory and attention only to God, never to herself, and has not contradicted anything I know of the Word, and these are things that I look for when I read prophetic books (this is a woman's account of prophetic insights into heaven-- it's fairly radical). I first heard about the book on Facebook-- a dear friend had posted the link on her page and I clicked on it because, I mean, really, who isn't going to at least be a little curious when they hear someone say that the Lord took them into heaven during one of their times of intercession (and if you know any real intercessors-- the kinds whose prayer sessions last so long that they take lunch breaks-- you know that God does crazy stuff with them. And that makes perfect sense-- they spend hours and hours on their faces before Him, listening to Him, talking with Him. There is something very precious about the relationships built with the Lord in the place of prayer)? And this lady was saying that He had taken her up repeatedly.

I listened and wanted to roll my eyes, but couldn't. Don and I both sat on the couch and listened to this very nice, very normal lady being interviewed in what looked like someone's living room and couldn't help but smile. We were both waiting, though, to hear about the babies. We knew that something was coming about babies. If you're reading this and you've ever lost someone, you know that feeling-- that constant curiosity to know where they are, what it might look like, how it might feel for them. I have always known with 100% certainty that my son is not alone and that he is loved and that the Lord has let him know that his mother and father did not willingly give him up but that we bless the Lord's plan for him, but I have also wondered.... will he be an infant still when I see him again? Will he be a grown man? Who is taking care of him? Have our grandmothers seen him? Have our grandfathers kissed his face? Have our friends and family who have gone on before us been able to coo over him, the way babies on earth get adored and cooed over? Oh, I pray so. I pray that my friends Ellen and Stacie have held my son, and that my grandmothers have playfully argued over whose side of the family he resembles (they're both out on that one-- he was his father's side of the family, all the way). I wonder if Winter's boy Josiah knows him, and if Susan's boy Will, four days younger than Ben, has become one of his playmates.

How does it work, Lord? How does it work?

I should say that I don't think about this all the time-- just sometimes. Sometimes I give myself permission to dwell on it because it's fascinating, but I can't go there often because I am aware that these sessions usually end in weeping. And that's okay, too, but life would become fairly unmanageable if that was a daily event :) .

Anyway, I know that I have many, many new (and old) friends reading this blog who have also lost babies, and I wanted to share this with you-- I'll post a link to the website where you can buy the book if you're interested in reading the whole thing for yourself.

p. 74 (a couple of pages into the chapter about "heaven's nurseries")

...[The] nurseries hold all the babies [aborted, miscarried, stillborn, etc.]. They are received by Jesus and He heals the wounds of their hearts. They are cared for by angelic beings who sing to them as they rock them in their arms. The breath of God nourishes them as they grow ever so slowly. Because of the goodness of God, a 20 year old mother could miscarry her baby and 50 years later die and go to heaven; her baby would only be around 3 years old (in earth years). She is given her baby when she arrives and she gets to raise it. How wonderful for all the parents who thought they had completely lost that privilege!

... The first illustration is of [an angel] and a baby named Precious who was miscarried in 2006. This baby girl was wanted very badly by the parents and one day she will be restored to them, because they have received Jesus as their Savior. She will be treated like a princess until their arrival in heaven. There will be many surprised women who did not know they had miscarried a baby, because it was so early in the pregnancy. What a shock when they arrive and find a little "package" waiting for them.

The facilities where the babies are cared for are very beautiful. There are arched ceilings with openings at the top which cause the rooms to be bathed in a warm peachy glow. Flowers are growing right out of the walls and tiny birds come and perch on the branches to sing for the babies. The babies' beds have the appearances of beautiful sea shells that come out from niches in the wall. Every baby's  name is etched in the wall above them; embellished onto lovely ribbons if it is a girl and on stately shields if they are boys. If you have a baby in heaven and you haven't named it, please do so...

Some of the angels appear to be male and some female but they all wore soft ivory gowns with pale colored sashes. They held the tiny babies (some only inches long) in the palm of their hands and the bigger ones against their chests. Even though these babies are tiny, they are different than the babies here, because they do not necessarily need to sleep. They do rest, but they also play. They already have the ability to "know" things and they can communicate. They are raised in the perfect love of God and joy is an automatic part of their lives [just like I prayed for Benjamin before he was born-- that he would know the perfect love and joy of the Lord from the womb]. It was the most beautiful place, filled with the peace of God. Their little faces reflect the Glory of God and they will know Him as we all should know Him.

from Revealing Heaven: An Eyewitness Account, Kat Kerr

See what I mean? Precious. What if?

Here's the bottom line:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Because whatever the truth is, it's good. Wherever our children are, it's okay. As long as my God is the God He keeps on showing Himself to be-- the one who comforts me in the middle of the night, who saves all the tears from my eyes, who cradles me like a little child, who never disappoints me, and who fills my life with good things-- yes, GOOD THINGS, even in the valley of the shadow of death. As long as that God is with me and fills me with His Spirit, it's all good. It's all going to be okay. Because whatever the plan, even if it's not this one, it's perfect.

But I'm glad He's cool with us wondering.

And I hope this lady's right.

:)