Sunday, July 18, 2010

A List

Have you ever had one of those days where you have a million thoughts and ideas swimming around in your brain and you know you need to write them down somehow-- journal, blog, something-- but just thinking about writing it writing it is exhausting? So here's a list instead:

*My bathtub rocks.
*The yard needs to be mowed.
*Don told me, "Thank you for cleaning the kitchen. You know that feeling you get when I mow the lawn? I get that same feeling when you clean the kitchen."
*The fact that this came right after the note that the yard needs to be mowed is completely unrelated... :)
*I'm currently living in denial that school starts back soon
*I'm excited about school starting back soon
(oooh-- I am such an enigma... :))
*New light fixture from JD's stash of cool stuff. OH-- good idea for the name of the shop I wish he'd open: JD's Stash of Cool Stuff.
*JD and Kristen are also responsible for the bath tub
*Fantastic-- FANTASTIC-- Sunday school class
*Butt-kicking Sunday school class
*Such fun at Jason and Tara's today. Gorgeous baby. Smiled the whole time. Perfect pink christening gown. Jason's post-baptism ribs were out of this world. The conversation was a blast.
*New friends! So much fun!
*Approaching storm today was brilliant. I love the south.
*Tinelle and Tara are lovely sisters. They've survived so much-- but more than survived. They are thriving women.
*I get nervous telling pregnant women what happened with Ben except when they're believers. I don't want to frighten them or freak them out. I had a conversation with the loveliest pregnant woman today (see "new friends" above :)), and it blessed me so much to see the peace on her face when I shared briefly about Ben after she asked.
*My husband says that I "sang good" in worship this morning
*He also says that we have temporarily cured the cat from sitting on the chair in the den
*He would also like you to know that most of his toenails are clean and also wants to know if I'm really typing that.

:)
Be blessed tonight. God is good.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition

The Two Foundations

24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.

25"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

26"Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.


27"The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."

28When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;


29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
Matthew 7: 24-29

First things first-- I am totally breaking a serious rule in Bible study-- there is SO MUCH to this passage, and if you have a passage that starts with "therefore"-- well, you know you have to search to understand what it's "there for" :). So I had the entire chapter here and realized that I wanted to talk about every bit of it, but I was too all over the place. The real thing is this foundation thing that I keep coming back to in my heart.

My dear friend Jonathan and I were talking on Saturday afternoon (he's a seminary student at Duke and he's interning at a great big church in Atlanta this summer and I could not be more proud of him-- I joked with his mother when D and I first got married that once I was pregnant, I wanted her to spit in my drink so I could have a son just like her sons-- I have a handful of women whose sons are so amazing, I have made the same joke with them...they THINK it's a joke... :)).

Anyway, Jonathan was telling me about the sermon he was going to give the next morning at church and he reminded me of the story of the wise man who builds his house on the rock, which is one that has come to mind for me again and again in the last year.

I remember being a little girl in children's church at Rockdale Baptist Church. Mr. Ronnie and Miss Janet and the other teachers would teach us little Bible songs and I still know those songs, and the Word is written right across my heart thanks to some of those little verses (all of you kindergarten and preschool teachers, don't give up! Your work is so valuable and huge! You never know what kinds of eternal seeds you are planting!!).

The wise man built his house upon the rock

The wise man built his house upon the rock
The wise man built his house upon the rock
And the rain came tumbling down


Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the wise man's house stood firm.


The foolish man built his house upon the sand
The foolish man built his house upon the sand
The foolish man built his house upon the sand
And the rain came tumbling down

Oh, the rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
The rain came down
And the floods came up
And the foolish man's house went "splat!"

So, build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ
Build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ... (etc.)

I remember thinking about the images those verses paint-- I couldn't imagine building a house on Stone Mountain or on the big rock that we had out on the play ground at Pine Street. How would they get it to stay and keep from sliding off? At the same time, building in the sandbox was pretty messy and everyone knows that the sandbox is no place to be if it's raining.

Such a literal child, from the beginning.

Anyway, this story is gigantically important to us as believers.

The thing about trials is that we don't expect them most of the time ("no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"). In the parable, Jesus had just been warning his listeners to watch out for teachers who would mislead them and He was advising them to consider the fruit that they bear. The whole warning is fairly intense.

But the thing that stood out for me last year was the fact that we had no idea that a storm was coming. That's the thing about storms (or the Spanish Inquisition...)-- we know to be prepared for them, to mend our leaking roofs or to have candles and extra batteries and a weather radio on hand, but really, you don't have time to replace the entire roof when you hear on the news that a weather event is slated for your area that afternoon.

We didn't know that we needed to be prepared for our worst nightmare last year. We got pregnant, rejoiced over our great blessing, and went about the business of registering at baby stores, designing a nursery, poring over baby name books and sending emails back and forth with funny ideas, giving our family fun "worksheets" at Thanksgiving dinner, asking them for suggestions-- family names, family stories connected to those names, etc. We were prepared for a sunny spring. We were looking forward to happy sleepless nights and figuring out how to breastfeed.

We didn't expect a freaking hurricane.

But here's the thing that was so beautiful: our house was built on the Rock.

And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

I've thought about that one miracle so many times. That He led us so wisely, so gently, in all the years leading up to April of 2009. The Lord drew us to Himself during the "building phases" of our lives, both together and separately. He inspired a hunger and thirst for His word, so we studied and studied to "show ourselves approved. We took verses like this seriously:

14 Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. 2 Timothy 2:15

...and tried to live in such a way that we were growing into followers and teachers and helpmates who were Christlike. Perfect? No. Seeking? YES!! We were seeking Him out to live Christ-centered lives because it feels good and right and holy and peaceful to live that way. Not to prepare for the worst-- we didn't know we were preparing for anything, really. Eternity, yes. Minor trials and temptations on earth, certainly. But this thing? No, because I thought I was blessed and highly favored and that this meant...well, I didn't think it through. But to me, it implied...

wait...Jesus said in John 16 that in this world we will have tribulations, but take heart! Be of good cheer! He has overcome the world!

The rain fell and the winds slammed against us, but the house didn't fall because the preparation had been done ahead of time. We were ready for anything-- we just didn't know it.

Jonathan and I were laughing about the fact that you can't move your house during a storm. It's either built solidly right now or you're going to have to hang on and fix it after the crisis has passed.

You never know when weather is going to happen. You don't expect the death of your son. You don't expect to get laid off. You don't expect to get a diagnosis of breast cancer when you're only 34. You don't expect a brain tumor at 37. You don't expect to get your heart broken by the man of your dreams. You don't expect to still be longing for a spouse at 43. But the wise man? He builds his house against the day of trouble-- on the Rock. And the rains will come and the winds will howl, and he'll lose some shingles and maybe some siding and a front door, but the house will stand. And God promised to give wisdom to anyone who asked. As much as we want, He's got it.

Church, we have to get building-- we have to turn back to our first love-- the One who wooed us to Himself in the first place. We have to unstick ourselves from church politics and petty disagreements. We have to be about the Cross of Christ. We have to be about Him for Him alone and get our houses off the soft sod with sandy, easy earth underneath and get our butts on the Rock.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Time

This summer seems to have passed so quickly. It's nearly drawing to a close and I haven't gotten half the things done that I had on my list... but I have enjoyed time with my husband and reading book after book at my parents' pool.

So I'm choosing not to beat myself up for not finishing the tasks I had planned. I'm choosing to be so thankful for time to myself. I'm choosing to be thankful for a summer that wasn't drenched in tears.... Don and I have wondered aloud several times this summer, "What did we do this time last year??" We walked. We talked. He changed the dressing on my wound three times a day. We cried. We felt so...sad.

But this year has been different and I'm so grateful. I remember being just at the beginning of the journey of grief after the death of a child and thinking that life would never be normal again. Couldn't be. And granted, there is always this check of sadness in the back of my heart and always will be-- always should be-- but I'm not depressed or hopeless. God has been faithful to heal the ache of the wound. The loss is still there, but the desperation is gone.

It does pop up sometimes. It did last week. I cried on my mom's shoulder three weeks ago. I sometimes stare at the ceiling long after D has gone to sleep and wonder what life would be like with our little guy toddling around. I read a status update on FB where a friend of mine joked that she would like to sell her screaming baby at a garage sale, and I know she's kidding, but I don't think I'll ever hear comments like that from moms ever again and not wince and get a little pissed for a minute. Even if the Lord chooses to give us another baby, I think I'll always want to shake people who say it-- even though they love their babies and would lay their lives down for them. In the same way, I would never joke about wanting my husband to die. It's not funny. It happens to some people. I know that I'm uniquely sensitive, though, so I'll keep it to myself (or share it with you guys here-- but we're on the same page, aren't we, in many ways?).

I saw a Hoarders episode where this woman lost her mind after her baby died in a way that was similar to what we think happened to Ben (I think her baby had a cord accident or something-- can't remember). She started keeping everything. The whole house was out of control. She just couldn't get it together. It had been years and she was slowly falling apart.

I won't judge that woman. I know it can happen. I know that the only thing that has kept me from losing my sanity is my faith in Jesus. Before carrying a baby for 9 (10?) months and then holding him, dead, in my arms, I had no idea how intense a mother's love for her baby is. I had no idea. I didn't even get to know Ben. I can't imagine how insanely intense and agonizing that connection from mother to child is when the relationship is allowed to grow. And when I think of this woman, it occurs to me that she had two other children before the one she lost-- is it possible that her grief was even greater because she understood the fulness of what she had lost? In a way that I can only peek at? How could you endure the death of a child when you know what could have been? Know it from experience?

Jesus. That's all. His goodness and closeness and the fact that this life is not all there is. That we'll only sojourn here for a few years but will spend bazillion gazillion matrillion years with Him and with those we have lost. Time.

This whole journey feels like such a freaking mind bender sometimes, you know? My prayer, constantly, is that the Lord would give me His mind in it all. Just help me to see and experience it the way He meant for me to. Help me walk it out the way He intended. There is so much comfort knowing that He knew what was coming and never planned to abandon me to it. Bad things happen to everyone-- EVERYONE-- and we are ridiculous if we think that somehow we are exempt because we are believers. Instead, we should expect that bad things will happen because we understand that the place we live in-- this planet-- is eaten up with destruction, but that the difference between us before Christ and us after Christ is that there is an answer to our suffering. There is a balm in Gilead. There is One who walks with us. We are not exempt, but we are also not alone.

None of this is pointless.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Call for prayer: Eli Whittemore

Hi guys,

Please be in prayer for baby Eli Whittemore. He is due in early August but was diagnosed with a heart condition in early June. His dad is a great kid (Israel)-- well, I guess he's not a kid any more... :) I knew him when he was a kid, and he has grown into a fine man. He and his wife are in ministry in Arizona and they have a little girl who is around three years old.

Please go check his blog-- he explains exactly what is going on with the baby!!

love,
Sam