Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today Is the Day

I've been hesitant to share this part of our lives. Actually, still am. My feelings and emotions are such a part of me and they are so raw, that to put them out there makes me a bit apprehensive...yet, I trust that God can and will use this for His glory despite my desire to keep it in the vault forever.

Today is actually a significant day. It's the day that we were expecting to welcome our 4th baby into the world. Not many knew that we were pregnant, so then, not many knew that we lost the baby at 8 weeks...

Although we trusted the Lord and His sovereign hand, we grieved  and mourned the loss of our child and felt we were on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. No matter how much faith you have, there is still mourning that needs to take place as you recognize your sadness in simply losing a child. I struggled with feeling that it made me less spiritual that I was having a hard time and dealing with sadness. The Lord comforted me and allowed me to grieve without that silly condemnation nagging at me. But, it's real and I have talked to several women who have felt that way. They have mentioned genuine friends wanting to help and try to "fix" what's going on by saying the exact right thing about God's sovereignty or your faith in Him. It's not an issue of faith and it's certainly not an issue of someone saying the perfect thing...there is simply grief as a result of losing a child. Prayers and hugs are perfectly sufficient. I also know that different people grieve in different ways, so what is helpful to me may not be to others.

I understand "fixers" because I am married to one. We have worked out a system that when we sit down to talk, I am upfront about what I am expecting from that conversation. If I simply want him to listen, I let him know that. If I want his help coming to a decision or thinking through something, I state that. It's pretty simple and effective because what I am wanting from him changes so frequently. Imagine that.

The Lord was gracious to us as we walked with Him and saw His strength shine through our weakness. By His grace, we were able to take courage as we waited upon Him to calm our emotions, clear our thoughts, and discern His direction for our family as He healed us. Amidst all of it, the death, the suffering, the unknowns, the healing, He did something amazing.

He showed us a piece of Himself that we had never seen before. He revealed Himself as Comforter to our hearts. And that revelation was astounding. I began to see Him so clearly in the everyday, in the mundane, in the things that I normally would have been too busy to see. He opened my eyes to see Him as I never had and I was so grateful to know Him in a deeper, more intimate way because of it. Although I don't understand how taking the baby fits into the bigger picture, I do know that His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts as well. And I trust that as He emptied me out and was my sufficiency in a dark time, He would also fill me up again, even fuller this time from experiencing His love in a new and refreshing way that made the mirror less dim than it already was.

We stand hopeful that our baby is with Jesus, dwelling in His richness and glorifying Him in heaven. What a beautiful picture and reminder that we will all see Him face to face...may those who know Him long for that day! The day when he will wipe every tear from our eyes and death shall be no more...the day when there will be no mourning nor crying nor pain anymore. Behold, He will make all things new! 

I write all this to be an encouragement. I hadn't thought about the baby often in the past 5 months, except a passing thought here or there. But as it got nearer and nearer to my due date, I began to realize that it might be a sad day for me. I have to remind myself that it's okay to grieve. I'm not holding this with an iron fist. The Lord gave and my hand was seemingly open for Him to take away. That's His possession to do as He pleases and He loves that little one more than I ever could. I knew the truth in my head, I needed it translated to my heart in full faith. The heart that was full to the brim and sometimes overflowing with emotions.

If you have experienced this kind of loss, I am so sorry. Sometimes words are too much and you just need a hug and a good cry. Be honest about what you need from people who care about you. Turn to the Lord to be your comfort because people will let you down, but the Lord never will. He will be your portion and your strength.

A precious gift, given to me!
Oh how wonderful; this portion is mine.
"Wait a minute", says God as takes my hand,
Reclaims the sweet gift and says, "Now is not the time."

"What? How could you?"
Oh wait, that was His to begin...
Why then were my hands gripped around it,
If I knew that He could give or He could take, in the end?

Do I still trust Him? How could I not?
I know of His faithfulness; I've tasted His love
So, though there be sadness, grieving and pain,
I am compelled to trust my God in the heavens above.

My God who gives blessing may freely retrieve
to please His sovereign will
I'll open up my hand to Him,
With His strength, saying "not my will, but Your will."

I have no grounds for doubt or dwelling in fear,
He's proved Himself o'er and o'er
Though in suffering He empties me out,
He's readying me to be filled even more.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Easy Man!

Easton Brooks,

When I think about you and about how much you mean to me, I can't help but tear up. You are so special. I know for a fact that God created you that way and it's not just my subjective opinion. God has made it so clear.

He's made it a point to use you in so many ways, especially in my life. He seriously made you a huge comfort to me when I was going through some of the hardest times in the beginning of church planting. He used your literal snuggles, kisses and hugs to comfort me on such hard days. I have soaked in those moments because they felt like the hand of God on me loving me through you. I can't help but think how amazing His grace has been to me, made evident through you.

Although you haven't been near as cuddly lately, I still take advantage of moments here and there to steal a kiss, a hug or a cuddle. Those mean so much to me since you are the baby around here. I am doing all I can to keep you so little. Paci? Sure! Blankie? Of course! Crib? A must! Walking around in a diaper? Love it! We are doing things so differently and I am enjoying it much more. ;)

I'm sad at the thought of you being 2, mainly because I have enjoyed your littleness so much and that seems too big. But you are still so little and I will continue to enjoy your sweet, passionate words...they way you string words together in such a funny way...your excitement over the little things...our fun times in the treehouse...I am treasuring all these things in my heart so as to never forget them. I know more memories are yet to come but I won't let go of these. They are precious to me, just as you are.

I love you so much, Easton, and I will continue to sing your hymn over you as long as you will let me.

Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing
always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold
not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
every power as You choose.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for Thee.

Take my will and make it Thine
it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart it is Thine own
it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord I pour
at Your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.
Take myself and I will be
ever, only, all for Thee.

Here am I, all of me.
Take my life, it's all for Thee.

Praying these beautiful words over your precious life.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

See God's Grace in your Children Everyday

Awhile ago Allen and I came to the conclusion that there were some major flaws in our parenting. Who am I kidding, we come to that conclusion everyday?!?! Well, at this point, we realized that we were correcting and disciplining 90% of the time and encouraging our children in what they were doing well about 10% of the time. We felt the Lord prompting us, saying, "this should not be."

At the same time, most of the resources that we employed always started with the negative, what the kids were doing wrong. If they are tattling, do this. If they are not willing to share, ask this question. If they lie, prompt them to do this, and so on.

So...I decided to come up with my own little chart to help us as we were trying to grow in this way. I started with the positive, an encouraging attribute that we were seeing in our kids (or one that we could exhort them towards) and then came up with a way to say that to them (so they would understand it) and short scriptures for them to hear and memorize. It wasn't meant (in any way) to be a formula, just a starting point for us as we were trying to remain faithful.

A few people have come over and seen this chart in our kitchen and asked for copy of it. We actually did it for a craft in my MOPS group (choosing scrapbook paper, laminating and attaching a cute ribbon to it).

And following that, I made an individualized chart for my 3 kids to prompt me to recognize evidences of God's grace in them, areas where they are struggling (and communicating that to Allen so that we are on the same page with the things we are training them) and specific scriptures for their area of struggle. I have enjoyed being challenged to choose at least one area of growth I am seeing in our children per week and letting them know, "God is working in you in this way...". They also delight in hearing the way God is working in them. It's hard enough to recognize areas in our own lives where God is growing and changing us, imagine if you are a child! What a blessing to hear that God is being faithful to them and changing their hearts. I have loved this tool and I pray that you will also.

Leave a comment with your email address and click "Follow" on the left hand side of the blog and I will email you the Virtue Chart and the supplement that we use.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Colorado Trip in pictures

Allen and I had the amazing blessing of going to Colorado together sans kids. Imagine that! It was awesome to spend so much time together...the most since having kids. We refer to it as the second hunniemoon. We drove to Colorado Springs and spent a night there, headed to Denver for a day and then to Vail for the rest of the week. It seems we were having to great of a time to take that many pictures, but here's what we have:

Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs

 Air Force Chapel

 View from our creekside hotel room

 Our friends from Brenham, the Hyde's

Leaving beautiful Colorado...

Sad day, but oh so pleased to be seeing our beautiful children.

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