Jun 29

Sweet Peace

The cake Andrea gave us for Zoe's first birthday

The cake Andrea gave us for Zoe’s first birthday

 

Detail

Detail

All done by hand!

All done by hand!

I mentioned, in my last post, that our neighbor, a professional cake designer, gave us the cake for Zoe-day (Zoe’s first birthday). I thought, after the words about how great it was, I ought to show you some pictures. So, here they are! Check out Andrea’s web site! (There’s a link in my blogroll.)

Jun 28

Birthdays

Wow. Today has been an emotional roller coaster for me. It started yesterday, actually. But the climax came this evening. And boy did it come.

I was looking at some photos. A close friend of ours, someone I’ve known since I was in high school, is a professional photographer. She has been a God-send and a huge blessing to our family. When Zoe was about 3 weeks old, she came over and did a session with us, at our home, for our whole family. She did it all for no cost, as a gift for us. And she gave us the digital images, too. The photos are amazing. Such a blessing!

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When Zoe’s first birthday came around, we decided to have a big celebration, as a way to honor her life. A lot of people didn’t understand what it was about, but we really wanted to celebrate the time that we had with her and focus on the fact that she was here, not that she was gone. And, all things considered, it was an amazing, awesome experience. I would SO do it again! And no one who came left feeling awkward. Everyone who came has told me how much they appreciated it and what a blessing it was to them. (We’ve even heard good things from people who couldn’t make it!)

When we started talking to our friends about what we were planning, our photographer friend offered us another gift: she volunteered to take pictures for us. It took some time for her to get them to us, partly because of some work issues on her part and partly because of some emotional issues on our part. We were finally able to connect on it, though, and they’re ours now. (Thank you!)

It’s been a little while since she got them to me, but I didn’t get to them right away. I was so excited about looking at them, but I knew it would be bittersweet, so I put it off. I get tired of the emotional roller coaster, so I didn’t want to get on it.  I finally did though.

Tonight, while my boys were outside playing and my hubby was at work (occassional second shift work), I put the cd in the drive on my laptop and sat down to look. With the boys looking in my office window, each telling me what the other was doing wrong, I started looking through the pictures from my daughter’s first birthday party. Wow.

First of all, I have to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who came. Thank you for all the cards and gifts. (Honestly, I was shocked. We just wanted to celebrate the time we had with our Zoe-girl; it never occurred to me that people would want to honor her by bringing gifts.) Thank you to all of the support you gave us (and are still giving us!). And thank you, Bea, for the pictures! They’re awesome! God has blessed us with the best, most supportive friends and family!

All of these “thank yous” represent the ‘up’ on that emotional roller coaster I was talking about earlier. Of course, what goes up must come down. The interesting thing, I’ve found, about grief, is that sometimes the ups and the downs are the same. It still always surprises me, though.

Tonight, I was looking at pictures. And I was going up and down at the same time, over and over again. Maybe that’s why grief is so exhausting. Even the things that give comfort and peace can rip your heart out and reduce you to tears.

_MG_5246Like this picture of a friend’s child, holding a butterfly in the palm of their hand, while the rest of us were in the garage, enjoying the birthday party for a deceased child, looking at the cute little butterfly decorations. I had no idea that was going on out in the front yard! I wish I would have been able to share that. But I’m so glad I have these pictures!

I was really struck, though, by the family pictures. Some of them were poses, but most were candids. I was overwhelmed, though, by the amount of loss they represent. My hubby and I have often discussed the number of bereaved families we know. There is so much loss in this Fallen place! That’s one of the reasons I’m here, doing what I’m doing. We don’t believe it’s coincidence. We believe that the Lord, in His infinite mercy, has given us the support system that He knew we would need. And we are so grateful.

I’m often amazed by the joy that exists in the circles we travel in. We have so many friends who have been through such horrible things, but they are still able to look at the world and believe that God is good. that He is loving. That He has not forsaken us. That’s grace, friends. That’s why were able to have a birthday party to celebrate the life of our daughter, ten months after she left this world. And that’s why so many of them came.

It’s also why looking at the pictures was such an emotional thing. Here’s what I was looking at: a couple who lost their son, laughing and playing with their rainbow daughter and our son – who is about the same age their son would have been. I saw a friend, having experienced several miscarriages, blowing bubbles with her rainbow son.

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I saw a close friend, bereaved through miscarriage the same summer we went through it, laughing and playing with her rainbow son, around the same age as our Zoe-girl – and my younger son being allowed to enter into that moment with them. I saw my sons – and myself – enjoying quiet moments with my sleepy niece, born the same year as Zoe. I also saw my boys, just enjoying being kids. I saw a priceless shot…3 men, standing together, representing a friend, a family member, and a neighbor.

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I saw our pastor, coming out to support us, and taking the time to invest in our boys. I saw myself – the way I look at my husband and father. I saw the way my husband’s friends and family look at him. It was, well…wow.

We had a lot of bubbles, along with pinwheels and butterflies. And our neighbor, Andrea Weibel (of Sweet Peace Cakes), gave us the most amazing cake. (Let’s just say: I am not a cake person, but I could get fat on Andrea’s cake! And the hand-sculpted butterflies were pretty enough to preserve.) It really was an amazing day, and I’m so glad that we did it.

It really got me thinking about birthdays, though. It just doesn’t seem fair. I’m thirty years old. I’ve had thirty more birthdays than Zoe. And there are so many other non-birthdays represented in those shots. I was looking at those families, including my own and so many of my friends, thinking about the faces that should be in them.

I was a little angry, to be honest. It’s really hard, at times, to think that God – our God, a good God – can look at our families, knowing what’s missing, and not fix it. Why doesn’t He fix it? I spent a lot of time talking to Him about it. I know, in my head, that He feels our pain. I know that He understands: He knew, from before the foundation of the world, that He was going to have to give up His Son – after having already lost the rest of us. I know that it isn’t personal: “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” I also know that it’s VERY personal: He knows how many hairs are on our heads and He knows when a sparrow falls; there is no detail of our lives that He is not intimately involved in. So, why doesn’t He fix it?

Well, having just read the book of Job, I don’t dare to presume that I understand the mind of God. As a saint, though, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, I have some guidance. I don’t think I’m completely clueless, though I’m sure I look like it, sometimes. I think, though, that it has a lot to do with the fact that all of this is really just temporary. Even though it feels, to us, like an interminably long time, it really isn’t. He wants to comfort us. He wants us to be whole. He has such a big plan, though. It just isn’t time yet. I wish I knew why. I would love to understand! But He doesn’t have to tell me. And if He doesn’t, it doesn’t change anything. I just have to trust more. Which, I think, is part of the point.

Someday, I’ll have a different kind of birthday. In a life where my Zoe-girl is already older than me. I’ll be born into forever, and this temporary stuff will seem so long ago. Even better, it’ll seem like just a moment. And I’ll have all of eternity to be whole, in perfect comfort and peace, with ALL of my children (Lord willin), and my sweet, sweet Jesus. And that’s the birthday I’m looking forward to.

On that note: Happy Forever Day, Grandpa Joel.

Jun 27

Zoe’s Room

Today was a bittersweet day for me. Things did not go the way they were planned, which can be aggravating at the best of times. I’ve found, though, that getting aggravated can be productive for me. When I get upset, I channel, and start doing things that I’ve been putting off, usually for far too long.

I was productive today. I, once again, had a few hours without the boys, while they were hanging out with some family members. So, I decided to work on something that I’ve been putting off for about 3 years now. I made a curtain.

curtain detailcurtainThis is the curtain I made. It’s hanging in my office. And it’s pink…

Shortly after we found out we were expecting Zoe, we started decorating our extra bedroom as a nursery. I was so excited! I painted the walls (a gorgeous shade of lavendar; the pictures don’t do it justice!), and detailed little flowers along the baseboards, with butterfly decals everywhere. It was all very girly and adorable.

We knew Zoe wasn’t going to be with us very long, but it was extremely important to me that we make a place for her. I guess it was, in a lot of ways, my way of showing the world that she was worth it. Her diagnosis didn’t make her less valuable to me, and I wanted to make sure that everyone – especially our boys – understood that I loved her and was excited to make her a part of our lives.

While I was getting ready for Zoe, I got the supplies to make a curtain for her window. Since the room was purple, with pink and green accents, I decided to make the curtain pink and green.

I am NOT a pink person. I like feminine things: lace, frills, flowers, dresses, high heels…Purple’s even my favorite color. I just DON’T like pink. Haven’t since I was about five. But my Zoe-girl was going to get everything – even if it WAS only for a little while. And some of it was going to be pink. Which is how I ended up with a pink curtain.

At some point, after Zoe died, we started talking about what to do with her room. It was still her room. Even now, after two and a half years, it’s still her room. If we live in this house for fifty years, it will still be her room. I know that. My hubby, though, was thinking about the fact that we don’t really have enough space to keep an empty room. Practically speaking, he was right.

The problem I had, though, was that he wanted to make it someone else’s room. We have two boys and they share a bedroom. It’s not even a big bedroom. So, logically, it would make sense to move one of them into the “empty” room. I couldn’t do it, though.

In the end, we ended up converting Zoe’s room into an office. I needed a place to work on some things, without four little hands helping. I needed a place to store some things. Most of all, though, I needed a way to let it keep on being Zoe’s room. So, we switched out the furniture. We didn’t paint the walls, though. All of Zoe’s flowers are still there. There’s still a shelf, with her piggy bank, letters that spell out her name, and other odds and ends that let me feel like it’s still her room.

And, now, there’s a pink curtain. It’s been about 3 years, but it’s done now. And it’s my office, but it’s still her room. It’s my window, but it’s still her curtain. I don’t like pink. But for now, at least, I can’t imagine any other color. If it wasn’t her pink curtain, it just wouldn’t belong. And, even though I don’t like pink, I love my new curtain. Her curtain. In my office. Zoe’s room. Always.

Jun 26

Colors and Mosquitoes…

As someone looking forward to seeing Creation restored, I often find myself wondering about the amazing reality that, as beautiful as this world is, it gets better. On the flip side of the same coin, I also find myself wondering about things that seem to have no beneficial purpose in existence. I found myself, today, looking at both sides of that coin. Let me explain.

I got a new camera for my birthday this year. It takes much higher quality shots than any I’ve ever had before. I also have a specific purpose for certain photos that hasn’t existed for very long. As a result, I find myself taking a lot of botanical macro shots. Since I live in a rural area, in a home that was well planted before we moved in, I have a ton of opportunities and an abundance of subjects. This week, our yuccas, wild pink roses, and orange lilies are all in bloom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our morning glories have been beautiful (in the mornings) for a few weeks now, and our trumpet vine and cultivated roses are budding. Our black-eyed susans are starting to bud as well. Like I said, abundance of subjects.

The boys were spending some time with family today, giving me some free time to get some shots this afternoon. I took advantage, taking the camera out to the tree line on the edge of our property. In the five or so minutes that I was out there, something was eating well. I realized, when I came in, that in those five minutes (give or take), I was bitten (by bugs) in multiple places. I immediately knotted up with welts, noticing at least four separate sites. Thank God for Benadryl!

As I was reviewing the pictures I took, trying not to scratch at the bug bites, I was thinking…Some friends and I were talking, a couple of months ago, about the idea that the beauty we know is not even going to be comparable to what we’re looking forward to. We talked about color, specifically, and how our eyes can only process a very small portion of the visible light spectrum. There are SO many colors that we’ve never seen! Can you imagine flowers in more colors than we know now? That’s so exciting to me!

I was really enjoying that question, this afternoon. Which got me thinking…Most of us assume (most of the time) that things like thorns are part of the Curse, resulting as God’s response to our Fall. We know, based on Scripture, that there was no death before the Fall. Carnivores resulted from Man’s sin. So, mosquitoes…

Here’s what I was thinking, and I’ve love to hear your thoughts on the subject…I don’t think that mosquitoes, flies, etc. were vampiric before the Fall. Since there was no death, there were no carnivores; that we know. My hypothesis is that, since the blood contains the life (as explained in OT Law), there wouldn’t have been any vampiricism, either (sucking blood seems to be carnivorous, to me). Again, I’d love to know your thoughts.

Regardless of where you stand on that particular subject, here’s my real question: What purpose did mosquitoes serve in a perfect, pre-Fall Creation? Other than feeding spiders, bats, and other insectivorous creatures, what purpose do mosquitoes serve? They spread disease, but that doesn’t fit the bill for a pre-Fall existential purpose, either. So, in a perfect world, what is/was the purpose of a mosquito? The only thing I can come up with is pollination. Any other ideas?

So, I’m very much looking forward to seeing, in a restored state (new Earth!), how things are different. Hopefully, I can’t wait to see what real colors look like and what purpose mosquitoes were intended to serve. Things to look forward to…

I’m so excited to seeing what God intended in Creation! And I’ll get to share it with my daughter, which makes it even more exciting. God loves us SO much! We are so blessed!

Jun 22

I’m Back!

I said I’d be back! I was tempted to call it a night and turn in, but I knew that since I said I’d post, I’d lose sleep if I didn’t. Like I said earlier…accountability. So, I’m back.

I actually have a lot to post. One of the reasons I’ve been slacking is because I know I have more than I can fit in a post, and I can’t decide what to go with. So, I just procrastinate until there’s not enough of my brain left to pick a subject and write a coherent post. (The rambling was so bad, last week, that I couldn’t even save the draft!)

Some highlights, from the past two weeks:

I finished Angie Smith’s book (I Will Carry You). Wow. That’s really all I can say. It’s amazing, as I interact (on whatever level) with other people who have been down this road, to see the ways that the Spirit of God works. I find myself reading and hearing not just ideas that I’ve had, but people actually using the same words that I’ve used. It would be unsettling, if I believed it were just coincidence. As the moving of the Holy Spirit, though, it’s a source of extreme joy and comfort for me. I know it’s not a coincidence; my God is just that big!

I’ve been spending a lot of time, over the last few weeks, working on a project that I’m SUPER excited about. I can’t share details, just yet, but I can’t WAIT to tell you all about it! I’m just waiting for the timing to be right, and there’s a lot of tweaking still going on. It’s getting close, though! (It’s a good thing; I’m getting to the point where I’m going to bust if I can’t share it soon!)

I’m still working on administrative stuff. I’ve been able to free up some time to devote solely to it, and, Lord willing, there will be some things happening with that this week. I don’t know exactly what, but I’m really excited to see how the Lord is going to move things.

I have a new prayer request for you, as well. I talked to a good friend, last night, that I haven’t been able to connect with in a while. She’s the pastor’s wife at a small church in the suburbs of a very large city, and she’s been my Paul (spiritual mentor) through a lot of things, including this horrible thing called “bereaved parenting”. She shared with me that there is a family in their church, right now, who is walking this road. Baby Vanessa has been diagnosed with Trisomy-18, the same chromosome abnormality our Zoe-girl had. She’s doing pretty well, for now, but she’s going to be having surgery to repair a heart defect. I don’t have a lot of details, but I know that prayer helps – no matter what the details are! I’ll keep you posted on what I know, but, for now, that’s really all I do. Our prayers are going up on her behalf, and our hearts are with her and her family. If you’re reading this, we’re praying for you and Vanessa! I’ve never met her, but I know she’s precious!

Since I finished Angie’s book, I did update my “Current Books” widget. I don’t know if anyone’s following it, but I am moving through things. I’m almost finished with the other book I’ve had up there, too. I’m hoping to finish it this weekend. I’m not sure what I’m going to start next; I got a few new things in the mail today, and I have an online resource that I haven’t had a chance to check out yet. I do have a draft of a resource list started, but I don’t have it ready to publish here, just yet. I’m hoping to get it up soon, though, so keep an eye out for it.

I have a lot more to tell you all, but I need to get to bed – the boys have their last t-ball game in the morning, so I need some sleep! I’m hoping to be able to post again on Sunday night, so, Lord willing, I’ll talk to you then. In the meantime, I’d really appreciate your prayers!

Until Sunday!

Jun 21

More Later…

Hello, out there! I know 12 days between posts isn’t quite twice a week, but…

I really haven’t disappeared into the blogosphere…I’ve been busy, though! Between kids, ministry stuff, family stuff, t-ball…not to mention everything else that life carries…anyway, I’m still here!

I just wanted to post something to let you know. I keep putting it off until I have time to post and I end up not getting to it. (I actually had a draft started last week, but ended up scrapping it.) Anyway, I’m done putting it off! I am going to post later tonight – you are now officially my accountability!

I’ll be back later!

Jun 09

Living Hopefully!

It has been a long weekend here at our house. Everything is good now, though. Our God is good! Always!

God’s goodness and faithfulness never ceases to amaze me. In my “realism”, though, and my attempts to be transparent, I sometimes focus too much, I think, on the fallenness. Neglecting the “hopefully” part robs God of the praise that He is due! To that end, today’s post is focused a little differently. I hope and pray that it’s a blessing.

Blessings that the Lord has given me this weekend:

A trip to the zoo with my boys and my father (God is SO creative!)

A weekend with my husband (he gets to come home every weekend!)

Access to good hospitals and practical healthcare, so that my mother was cared for quickly and professionally. She was even able to get that care during off hours (emergency surgery at 2 AM), so that her condition did not reach a crisis stage – merely a serious one. Praise God!

A home of my own! As I have spent time catching up on chores this weekend, it has been such a blessing to know that my space is my own. I have a place where I can care for my family in comfort and privacy, welcoming the presence and counsel of those we choose to embrace, controlling the outside influences that penetrate the walls, and choosing to interact with one another in a way that glorifies the great God that has blessed us in this way.

A good camera! Having recently acquired one, I can appreciate its quality and versatility in so many ways. The Lord is already blessing me with opportunities to use it to bless others, and I am so thankful and excited!

Angie Smith’s book. It’s not an easy read, but it’s been such a blessing.

A functioning washer and dryer. There have been times when I’ve had to take advantage of some of the laundromat facilities that we have access to, and I have been grateful for them. It’s such a blessing, though, to be able to throw a load of jeans in and then go work on something else while they wash (and dry!). Seeing someone else that I know having to take advantage of laundromat services, I have been reminded of the blessing of having my own facilities at home.

Clean water. That we don’t have to pay for. It’s easy to focus on the drawbacks of well water. As I have spent hours and hours running water this weekend, though, it has been a relief to know that it isn’t going to show up on a bill somewhere. As long as we aren’t wasteful, we are in no danger of running out (our well has always had ample supply). God always provides!

My children! I talk about my loss a lot on this blog. Zoe was my only daughter and I miss her dearly. I lost a part of myself when she went to be with the Lord. Her two big brothers, however, are still with me. They bless and challenge me every day! They are happy, healthy, energetic boys who keep me busy and active. I am SO grateful for that! And for them! The questions they ask will keep me learning for at least the next fifteen years, and I love that, too! I love my boys! And I’m so grateful for them. The Lord has blessed me in them in so many ways!

MY HUSBAND. I cannot say enough how grateful I am for the man that the Lord has given me to walk with in this life. He is amazing. Like me, he’s far from perfect, but he is exactly what I need. Every relationship takes work, but I have never wondered if our relationship was worth it, because I know that I am a better person because he walks with me. He gives me so much. And I am so grateful to the Lord for letting me be his help. “Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights…” (James…chapter 1?). Thank you, Father, for the great gift of my husband!

I’m sure you get the idea, from here. I could go on for a long time…I’m grateful for my family, my church, the freedom we have to share our faith and our opinions, the friends and family who encourage us to follow the calling of our God, the very grace that He gives us to allow us to pursue and fulfill that calling…the list, obviously, is endless. I am blessed beyond belief and beyond what I could write.

Most of all, I am grateful that God loves us. I have been struck, repeatedly, this weekend, by the fallenness of our world. But every time, I have been struck by the beauty of the overwhelming love that does not leave us in our fallenness. Our God did not FIND a way for our relationship to be renewed; there was no way. He MADE the ONLY way – Himself. He chose not to leave us where we fell, but to make a way back to Him. Why? For no other reason than His love for us. How can we not be grateful for that? He loves us in a way that I cannot even comprehend! There was never any inner turmoil, for Him – every part of His being agreed that He wanted to save us from the fate we had chosen for ourselves. Wow.

My post has gotten long, again. I kind of knew that it would. I have much to be thankful for, and that includes a lot of words. I’ll let you get on with your life, though. I know that you have your own things to be grateful for. I just wanted to encourage you to take a moment and say it out loud (or at least type it up!). My short list doesn’t begin to cover all of my blessings, but it’s a starting place. What’s your starting place?

Jun 07

What a Difference Our God Makes!

“There is a difference in despair and deep sadness over the time that will pass until we can see her again. It is a conscious, daily choice to experience dakyro, the sadness that allows one to grieve with the expectation of redemption.” – Angie Smith (I Will Carry You)

If you pay any attention to my widgets, you’ll recognize this as one of the books I’ve been reading. Emotionally, it’s brutal. I can relate far more than I care to admit. Angie’s daughter lived for only 2 hours and weighed just over three pounds. That almost makes Zoe’s life seem long and full.

Reading Angie’s story is extremely difficult, because the similarities are shocking. My copy of the book is riddled with graffiti, notes and comparisons, similarities in our stories and personalities… I think I’ve underlined enough to get most of the main storyline across!

It’s humbling to realize, through interactions with others (however distant), how big our God is. I’m not reading my own story, and there are obvious differences, but the ways that He works are so often the same. We have the same God. That makes all the difference!

Jun 02

Insignificance

When I shared with my pastor(s) that I was feeling the Lord calling me into a ministry for hurting families, I was cautioned about the intense spiritual warfare involved. Having been involved in various ministries, at various stages of their development, with varying levels of leadership responsibility, at various stages in my own life, I’m fairly familiar with the concept. Anytime the Lord starts actively blessing a ministry (which means, basically, anytime He calls someone to minister!), the Enemy does everything he can to interfere. Some of his methods are simple; some are so complex it’s hard to see them coming. Most of us know that there’s (at least!) one particular area where he can get to us pretty consistently. It’s different for everyone, but we all have our weaknesses.

Today has been the kind of day where the Enemy has been pressing his advantage by exploiting my weakness. It’s always been something of a struggle for me to believe that I, personally, have any impact. One of my biggest personal struggles has been with insignificance. I tend to be the kind of person who fades into the background, except to those who know me quite well. Really, that’s fine with me. I have no desire to be in the spotlight; I like being behind the scenes.

Every once in a while, though, I get in a mood where I want to be noticed. Usually, it’s because I’m focusing on myself. That’s never a good place to be, anyway, but it’s worse when the Enemy’s exploiting it. And when you feel invisible, looking at yourself isn’t very encouraging.

Anyway, one of the forms that this particular battle takes, particularly when I’m feeling discouraged in ministry, is a feeling of insignificance. Michael Card has a song, “Spirit of the Age”, that contains the line: “If he could crush the cradle, then he could stop the cross;/He knew that once the Light was born his every hope was lost.” It’s a reference to Satan’s attempt to destroy Christ in infancy (Herod’s slaughter of the innocents), knowing that the threat was in the crucifixion. Our enemy knows he can’t win in the end. But he also knows that every thing/person he destroys in the meantime is a victory. And since he can’t win the war, every battle victory is worth it. Really, it’s not a bad strategy. If you knew your endgame was beyond hope, wouldn’t you do everything you could to gain as much ground as you could while you still had the chance?

I know that sounds like a rabbit trail, but I’m bringing it back around. I don’t know what kind of plans the Lord has for this ministry. I do know that He’s calling me, though, and some other people with me. I don’t know who He plans to impact through this calling, but I know He has plans. And, well, when God scores, Satan loses points. Right now, though, we’re still at a place where nobody’s scoring big.

It’s easy to feel, when I log on and don’t see any comments, that no one’s reading any of this. It’s easy to believe, when I don’t get an immediate response, that my e-mails aren’t being taken seriously. It’s a simple thing, when there’s no funding yet, to think that things aren’t going anywhere. It’s easy for him to make me feel insignificant. And that’s exactly what he wants. If he can make me believe that it doesn’t make any difference – that I don’t make any difference – than he can make me give up and quit. And every time we quit, it removes some of his opposition. Who wouldn’t want that?

Today, though, when I started to feel that way, the Lord revealed something to me. The trick, He showed me, is understanding that the enemy is right. I really am insignificant. By myself. “I am nothing without Christ.” The problem with this attack, though, is that it’s built around the condition that I stop there. That half-truth is not the whole story! Praise God, there’s so much more! The much more important part of the truth is found in Philippians 4:13, where Paul says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I’m not by myself! It doesn’t matter that I’m insignificant, because I’m working with the ONE person who is ALL significant (“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:3-4)!

Our enemy is very good at what he does. He has thousands of years of practice. Technology may have changed, but people really haven’t changed that much. He’s had a lot of time to perfect his technique. But our God is eternal. He’s been here a lot longer and He’ll be here a lot longer. And He had foreknowledge of Satan’s attacks before Satan ever existed. His counter-measures are certainly not inadequate!

What it really boils down to is that it has nothing to do with me. It never did. And it never really will. What matters is only what the Lord wants to do. I can be willing, and be used of Him to make a difference, to however many people, or I can give up, and He’ll simply call someone else. He’ll still do what He wants to do. I just won’t have the chance to be part of. So, for one more day, I am willing. After all, what is significance, really? Isn’t that what this is all about – EVERY MOMENT of EVERY LIFE has value? Am I really going to give someone the power to say that my life is exempt? I REFUSE TO BE INSIGNIFICANT!

Jun 01

I Read a Children’s Book Today…

In addition to the regular books that I’ve been reading (that’s been slow going, lately, but that’s temporary), I’ve been reading a lot of children’s books. Our local library has compiled a list of children’s books about death, as well a resource list of books to help children who are grieving. Anyway, I’ve been using their list as a jumping off point (mostly because they’re readily accessible and FREE!).

Usually, when I check out children’s books, I share them with my own children. I have to admit, though, I haven’t been doing that with the “death books”. I’m emotional when I read them, especially the first time, and, quite frankly, it’s easier to do it on my own. I think there’s also, though, an element of protection there. I know what kind of emotional baggage comes bubbling up when I read the books, even the children’s ones, and I want to protect my sons from the pain of the resurfacing emotions. (We don’t hide things from them, but I don’t see the sense in bringing up painful subjects for no reason. When they want to talk about Zoe, we do. When they want to talk about death, we do. But it’s when THEY want to, or when it comes up on its own; we don’t force it on them.)

Anyway, all of that aside, I read a children’s book today that was excellent. It’s called The Scar and it was written by Charlotte Moundlic. It’s a first-person account, told by a little boy whose mother has just died. Generally, I try to stay away from children’s books about the death of a parent, but this one deals with the loss so amazingly well that I think I’m going to have to get a copy. The boy talks about his anger, his fear, the concern he has for his father, even the physical pain he embraces because it creates a link with his dead mother. The scar that the book is titled after is something he creates (following an accidental injury), in an attempt to continue the relationship, not realizing that there is a connection between them that will last throughout his life. After his grandmother says that his mother will always be in his heart, the boy (in his little boy’s literal interpretation) begins to embrace the feeling of his own heartbeat, allowing the connection with his mother to be carried there and allowing the scar to heal.

I think part of the reason I liked the book so much is because I am the mother of two little boys and I can see them in the main character of the story. What I really loved about it, though, is that Moundlic really grasps the heart and mind of the child. He’s worried that his father won’t be able to care for the two of them, after his mother dies. But he’s also upset because his father doesn’t know how to make his toast the way he likes it. I can’t help thinking of my own sons and the things that are so important to them. Sometimes children are the most upset about the smallest things because the big things are more than they can grasp.

Our little ones act irrationally, without the ability to explain their feelings, leaving us to wonder what they’re thinking. The boy in the story refuses to open the windows, despite the stifling heat and oppressive humidity of summer, because he’s afraid his mother’s scent will go away and she’ll be gone. He doesn’t tell anyone why he doesn’t want them opened, though. So, when his grandmother opens them anyway, he completely breaks down.

I think, too, our children understand a lot more than we give them credit for. The boy in the story doesn’t like to see his father cry. When they stop speaking, he understands that it’s because his father sees his mother in him and it’s painful. While I don’t know that most children understand well enough to clearly verbalize, and younger children may be confused by the distance grief causes between us, I think Moundlic’s protagonist will give clear thoughts and words to children who cannot find them on their own.

I think this particular story could have a profound impact, on both children and the adults who share it with them, by simply bridging the communication gap. I think a lot of children would benefit from hearing the boy’s feeling defined so clearly and simply. I think that a lot of adults could benefit from the glimpse into the thoughts and understanding of the child. Moundlic’s simple yet profound style makes the boy accessible to both children and adults, in a way that many children cannot make themselves accessible.

I’m not a book reviewer. I’m definitely not a critic! And I’m not going to make a habit of reviewing books here. (I hope to, eventually, post a list of books that I would recommend as helpful resources. That will be on another page, though, not in a blog post!) I was just really impacted by this book, though, and thought it would be a good way to let you into my world for a few minutes. If you’re bored, READ IT!

On another note, I’ve drafted a mission statement. I’ve asked a few people to review it and I’m waiting for some feedback. When it’s been tweaked, look for it on the about page! I’m also working on the other administrative things I mentioned (a few posts back). I covet your prayers and I’ll keep you posted!