Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Guam!

As we end our Christmas Day here in Guam, most of our family and friends are waking up to begin theirs.

We had fun Saturday evening with friends and didn't end up opening gifts until we returned home at almost 11pm! Christmas program at church this morning and a quiet family day together. It has been rather uneventful and was probably the most low-key Christmas we have had in forever.

Thank you for praying for us! I only had one sobbing breakdown after Austin and Noah opened their gifts... It just went by too quickly and peacefully. I cherish their thank you's and hugs and kisses after each gift. And I wish that there was a rowdy 7yo blonde boy in the mix to liven things up and maybe cause a little trouble. The days leading up to this weekend were definitely more difficult than the weekend itself-- and for that I am thankful.

We never stop missing Christian, but praise God that it has gotten a little less hard over time. Learning to live joyfully side by side with sorrow is indeed a gift and only possible through God's mercy and grace.

I also want to ask you, dear friends, to please continue to pray for the Sims family as they mourn the loss of 4yo Josiah Courage, who passed away earlier this week.

My heart is so heavy for them.

The following excerpt from Streams in the Desert ministered greatly to my heart on our first Christmas without Christian.

A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, "If Christ had not come." It was founded upon our Savior's words, "If I had not come." The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared.

A ring at the doorbell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child and as he reached the home, he sat down and said, "I have something here that will comfort you." He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.

Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open heaven, but only "dust to dust, ashes to ashes," and one long eternal farewell. he realized at length that "He had not come" and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.

Suddenly he awoke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,

O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.

Let us be glad and rejoice today, because "He has come." And let us remember the anunciation of the angel, "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).

Merry Christmas from Guam!

And Merry Christmas from me! :-)

Thank you, Lord, for coming down in humble form to give us a future and a HOPE!

Monday, December 19, 2011

giving and receiving

I woke up in the middle of the night. I tried to go back to sleep but my mind started to race as fear and panic gripped my heart.

We live on an island surrounded by water... What were we thinking?! Austin will be taking scuba lessons soon... What if something happens to him? Oh Lord, will we have to live through loss from drowning once again? And this baby that you have been so good to give us, will he be taken from us too one day? I can't do this, God! When will it be easy? When will these crazy, tiresome thoughts finally end?

So many stories of loss and suffering... too much knowledge of what could go wrong... I want to hold tight to what I have. Yet the tighter I hold, the greater the fear... and the greater the foolishness in thinking that it is all up to me.

Christmas is a time of giving and receiving.

How easy it is for me to take for granted that the true owner of all that I have is God.

Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. -I Chronicles 29:11

The view of the sky from my window...

My home, my body, my husband, my children...

Christmas 2007 - Our last Christmas together this side of Heaven
(That was such a fun Christmas! What a gift!)

Ian - 30 wks 5 days, 3 lbs 10 oz (How amazing is that?!) :-)

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. -I Corinthians 6:19-20

All the material things that I have, all the joy of the spirit that I have, all the comfort in sorrow that I have-- it is a GIFT from God.

I am not entitled, I am not deserving... and yet He gives.

How many times has He offered me gifts only to have me refuse, walk away or throw a fit? He offers to carry my burdens and tells me to trust Him. Isn't trust a gift?

To be able to trust... to have a God that is so Holy, just, right, loving, capable, all-knowing... and He is telling little, unworthy, fickle, emotional, bratty me that He WILL take care of me. That I can trust Him with my most prized possessions, my deepest hurts, my most fragile worries and fears.

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

"It is God's will that I should cast
On Him my care each day;
He also bids me not to cast
My confidence away.
But, Oh! I am so stupid, that
When taken unawares,
I cast away all my confidence,
And carry all my cares."

-Author Unknown


How much better we would be if we would only trust Him and seek His face, if we would choose to look for His hand and blessings in our lives, rather than turn a blind eye in a tantrum when things don't happen the way we want them to happen?

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever.

Remember God's track record. Remember His faithfulness in the past. See His faithfulness and care for you today. Don't turn a blind eye, but choose to SEE and acknowledge Him. Trust Him with your future.

God never fails, even when all seems lost and dark.

Don't continue to carry burdens that you were not meant to carry. Give it to God and receive peace in return.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

when my heart is breaking

We went shoe shopping for Noah yesterday. There were so many adorable styles for little kids-- styles that Noah has long outgrown. He brought me a pair of red ones that he thought would be perfect for Ian one day. And then I found these fun Crocs that were in the shape of... well, crocodiles! And it made me smile for a moment.

Christian had a pair of black crocs that he loved to wear. They were in the shape of cars with little headlights at the toes.

We buried him in them.

The memory took me by surprise. It had been a long time since I had thought about the whole sucky process of deciding what clothes and shoes he should be buried in, right down to the red Power Ranger underwear. Agonizing. Heartbreaking.

All I could do was hold onto David and cry.

There are always those moments of tears and sadness that catch us off-guard. But Thanksgiving and Christmas are pretty predictable on the calendar... and are exceptionally difficult for those that have suffered the death of a loved one. Just this year, so many new moms are dreading the celebrations that were once so FULL of life and happiness...

Even when we are still surrounded by blessings and new life, it makes the absence of that one precious soul even more profound.

It really sucks, y'all.

"The love of God a perfect plan
Is planning now for thee,
It holds a "future and a hope,"
Which yet thou canst not see.

Though for a season, in the dark,
He asks thy perfect trust,
E'en that thou in surrender "lay
Thy treasure in the dust,"

Yet He is planning all the while,
Unerringly He guides
The life of him, who holds His will
More dear than all besides.

Trust were not trust if thou couldst see
The ending of the way,
Nor couldst thou learn His songs by night,
Were life one radiant day.

Amid the shadows here He works
The plan designed above,
"A future and a hope" for thee
In His exceeding love.

"A future"-- abiding fruit,
With loving kindness crowned;
"A hope"-- which shall thine own transcend,
As Heaven the earth around.

Though veiled as yet, one day thine eyes
Shall see His plan unfold,
And clouds that darkened once the path
Shall shine with Heaven's gold.

Enriched to all eternity
The steadfast soul shall stand,
That, "unoffended", trusted Him
Who all life's pathway planned.

I have an heritage of bliss,
Which yet I may not see;
The Hand that bled to make it mine,
Is keeping it for me."

-Freda Hanbury Allen

Believe it or not, grieving mom, you do have a CHOICE when it comes to your thoughts and attitude. You can choose to fight for joy!

It is easier to make this decision ahead of time... Decide NOW that you will fight.

Decide NOW to start praying (and having your friends and family pray) that God will give you grace and mercy in the months ahead. As with all the other "firsts" in your grief, it makes a difference to prepare your heart in advance. It might seem impossible when you are even now, on a "normal" day, just barely surviving... but don't give up.

Yes, you have laid your treasure in the dust. But it does not end there! Although you cannot see past the dark bend in this road, there is MORE ahead... there is a future and a hope!

This life, this world, it is but a vapour that vanishes. You know all too well how fleeting life can be. The time with our children was never long enough. Jesus Christ died on the cross for OUR sins, for yours and mine. And when we ask forgiveness for our sins and accept his gift of salvation, he promises us eternal life. Eternal is forever!

If you have trusted Jesus with your eternal destiny, with the salvation of your soul, with FOREVER... how much MORE can you TRUST HIM with this life here? How much MORE can you trust Him to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death? How much MORE can you TRUST His Word that a future and HOPE is coming? Right around the bend... though you cannot see. God spoke the world into existence and sees all from beginning to end. He that knows the number of hairs on your head, the One that wants to carry your burdens (if you would just let Him), loves you!

That is indeed worth giving thanks and worth celebrating.

This Christmas season, I pray that God will fill your heart with joy and bring to mind all the wonderful memories of your precious child... and rather than focusing on the missing of that laugh and smile, that you would focus on the GIFT that God chose YOU to be the mommy and allowed YOU to be the one to hear that giggle and see that grin on a regular basis.

He gave you the gift of your child! And through Jesus Christ, we will be reunited again...

Keep trusting and walking with Him. God cannot lie. We have a future and a hope... all because of Jesus!