Friday, August 14, 2009

and thus, until we meet again...

If you are reading this, you ought to be handed some sort of medal. Upon it would be inscribed: 'faithful reader of a not-so-faithful writer' or something to that effect. While for months my thoughts and hopes and fears were traceable here, on this blog, I find that now, in a new season, with so much more on my mind than what once was, it seems fitting to depart from this place and to embark on a new journey. As a member of a group of people who have committed hours of their lives to walking through the last couple of years with me, I hope that somehow the fondness that swells my heart for you will permeate that glowing computer screen and you will know what your prayers, words of encouragement and consistent companionship - even if alongside me via my incessant online ramblings - have meant to me. Were it not for you, I am confident I would not be where I am today.

As I consider what might have brought you here for the first time, I'm aware that many have their own seeds of sorrow to sow. Many have yet to sow them. And it would be naive on my part to believe my own grief is entirely gone; indeed, though the wound has healed, a scar remains, and sometimes, in the most unexpected moments, it will seem to spring back to life with a pain so acute I cannot do anything but pray it away. But I want to encourage those of you who are walking a road similar to my own: fear not. You will smile again. You will feel again, in the way you once did, without the struggle to breathe mixed in. You will laugh and sing and know victory, if you will ask for those things. Ask for them, and receive them, for surely if you will only ask, you will find your cup filled over. Don't compare your story with anyone else's, for in the comparing there is the promise of bitterness or guilt. Stand perfectly still if you must, looking neither backward or forward, and simply believe that you can make it through the day - or the next five minutes.

I pray if you do look at me, or where I am, or rather, where God has brought me, you can be filled with hope because I have been given "bouquets of roses instead of ashes, [a message] of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit" (Isaiah 61:3, The Message). God has exchanged my sorrow for elation, my weeping for dancing, my agony for peace. Though I hold in my arms a new baby, and what would seem a redemption for the life I lost with Copeland, in truth this peace came before she did, and I recognize that God often first gives us what we do not know we need before He gives us the things we long for. For we "do not know the thoughts of the Lord; we do not understand His plan" (Micah 4:12).

From now on, let this blog remain a tribute to God's faithfulness to me in the darkest days of my life. Let all who read it be blessed and encouraged, and let those who doubt the might of the Holy God be astounded at His goodness to me, a woman redeemed by the blood of the One who sees more in me than I see in myself.

I will continue blogging elsewhere, and would love for those of you who are interested to please come alongside me again. The Lord has given me a distinct passion for His Word and uncovering truth for the generations to come, particularly for my precious children who will fight a battle perhaps even fiercer than my own. It's on these topics that I hope to put down my thoughts on the next blog. I am having a sweet friend do some "maintenance" for me, and will shortly give you the web address.

Be blessed today, and everyday, as you open your hands to receive what the Father will lavish upon you. And may He grant us a thousand lifetimes in eternity with which to know one another and to rejoice in His goodness to us.

With deep love and affection,

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

a perpetual hallelujah

I have tried to find words to articulate what these images make me feel. Conor and I first saw them when the Discovery Channel premiered the BBC documentary series, "Planet Earth", in 2007. It took up many hours of our life when we were anticipating Copeland's arrival, and even when we knew of her condition, there was something calming about seeing the natural world in motion. It's difficult, in the face of grief, to watch humanity continue to twirl - people going to lunch, taking taxis, visiting the park, renting movies - but somehow, nature, in its finest display of continuity, routine and discipline reflected something more of a God who is not only creative in His storytelling, but also intentional.

Sellers has taken to great bouts of weeping whenever she sees this trailer; we weren't totally sure why at first, but as time has passed, and we've watched it over and over, we suspect it's because she, as a child, has a greater access to that part of her spirit that needs to connect with nature, a part that, without the dregs of time, is still sensitive to the beauty she sees and the impulse to be near it. I read, recently, a fantastic post on a friend's blog that discussed a possible correlation between our decreased interest in God and our decreased interest in the natural world. We say we aren't ones for camping, or hiking, that we don't like getting wet or dirty or that bugs or snakes or spiders or whatever else bother us - and perhaps this is true. But we are now a generation of people who see getting wet or dirty or dealing with natural elements as negotiable, a generation who could, effectively, almost avoid such events entirely by mildly calculated efforts.

I don't know what God wants for the rest of my life. Sometimes I find myself feeling suppressed, or depressed, or just anxious, as though my spirit knows there's more but my mind can't fathom what the 'more' is. I don't mean Heaven. I'm trained, as a believer, to understand that Heaven is great, Heaven is where we should want to be. But when I have absolutely zero framework for what Heaven might possibly be like, I find it difficult to imagine, much less look forward to. Isn't it odd that most of our musings on eternity focus on something more like a grandiose church service, white robes and Southern Gospel included? If the God who created the place I'm going to spend eternity also happened to create the place I'm currently residing in, wouldn't it benefit me to get a better glimpse of it than through my tinted windows as I drive 45 miles an hour to get groceries? Would it change your relationship with Jesus if you knew the place He was preparing for you was just like where you happen to live now - only redeemed, whole, new, fresh, more alive and vibrant? That when we look on these images of animals and plants and water and earth brimming with possibility, we can honestly know that, without voices like our own, each is singing a song of praise and anticipation and hope - a song that cries out for rebirth? What if you started a walk with God that began simply based on the acknowledgement of His creativity, the majesty and wonder of His works, instead of choosing to walk away from God because of a human effort to convert you? What if His message is stronger than anyone else's? What if this is all for you?

If you are a believer, it is your responsibility to honor this masterpiece. Satan has used the political dialogues we've taken to engaging in when it comes to caring for this planet to turn our eyes and ears away from what is true, and right. God has said that He has created this wonderland, this place of majesty and might, so that "everyone will see [it, and so that] no one can miss it— unavoidable, indisputable evidence that I, God, personally did this. It's created and signed by The Holy of Israel" (Isaiah 41:20). Who are we to question our duty to treasure and cherish this gift? We would never refute a Christian's calling to preach the Gospel by word or deed. Why, then, are we quick to shove the very creation upon which we stand aside, declaring it ours for the taking, assuming no passion or fear or respect for what God designed as His most faithful evangelist? It was the Pharisees, those who considered themselves the most devoted in their religion, who were stunned to hear that, even if Jesus' disciples kept quiet, the stones themselves would cry out (Luke 19:40). Oh, that we were more aware of the hallelujahs going up around us every moment!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

winds of change

I don't remember a time in my own personal history - nor the history of the world as I've known it - that everything felt so perilously out of order. Everywhere we turn, homes are being lost, businesses are shutting down, people are living in a much less free-and-easy sort of way. Perhaps this is good, perhaps this will be a blessing in disguise; in fact, I'm inclined to think that's exactly what it will be. But blessings in disguise rarely feel like blessings as they are being experienced. Mostly they feel like fear and uncertainty and pain.

As I drove to the park today (marveling at how our weather patterns can be, well, so patterned, back and forth like the zigging and zagging of the stitching in a dress), I noticed some daffodils growing beside a mailbox on a back road. And though a carefully examined patch of yard might not testify to its imminent arrival, spring is coming, and splashes of green pushing up in pastures and fields declare it over and over again. Spring is God's anthem of redemption. Every gentle breeze, each proud new blade of grass, the dizzying scent of a hyacinth bloom - all of it singing a song of promise. And today, as I drove, I realized: if my God does not forget to orchestrate all these things, in fact purposefully sets them into motion again and again, year after year, then who am I to worry? Who am I to question?

I must borrow from my pastor now. Two days ago, I listened to him speak about sanctification. His definition of it seemed rather clumsy to me at first; almost too much to digest. To paraphrase: "Gradually becoming what we already are and what we're meant to be." What? It felt word-heavy, as though it would topple under its own verbosity. But in essence, what he was saying about sanctification was that it's both a one-time thing and an ongoing process. We have a maple tree in our yard that wears each season boldly on its branches. In the summer, it's vibrant and lush. In the fall, its leaves begin to crumple and crisp, turning bright shades of reds and golds. Winter strips it of any and all signs of life. But spring. Spring comes and never has that tree looked so glorious. Green, yes, and on its way to vibrance and fullness. But still new, still young. still just dappled with color. Spring is that first, early morning yawn of summer. Spring is pristine restraint to summer's tawdry decadence. My tree seems to stretch its weary limbs up against the bluing sky and reach out for life again. Always the same tree - never the same tree. It, like me, is in a continual state of transition.

If you believe in Jesus, you are like that tree. You, too, are changing. Perhaps not in drastic leaps and bounds, not all at once, but the change is inevitable. It is not by choice but by His spirit. Sanctification is a difficult word. Maybe it's easier to digest when you think of it as this: being the you He intended you to be. Not in a you kind of way. But in a Jesus kind of way. After all, you were made in His image. Sin has stripped us of that, has made us prisoners to something other than what we were called to. But salvation sets in motion a metamorphosis, a hearkening back to what was the original design.

First we are set free from the penalty of sin - hallelujah! I, like the church at Corinth, have been "called to be holy" (I Cor. 1:2). My sanctification is immediate. But it's also ongoing. With each day that I remain on earth, a battle will be waged to keep me free from sin's power. I must keep awake so that I can resist the temptation to drift off into apathy. I will feel the transformation, slowly but surely, as I become more like Him, "from one degree of glory to another" (II Cor. 3:18). Always the same girl - never the same girl. If I am a believer, if I am walking with Jesus, walking in true relationship with Him, my growth will never stop. Just as my maple tree is constantly changing, even if not to the naked eye, I, too, cannot help but be constantly changed, as well. It is not choice. It is inevitable. When we finally reach eternity, however that door may be opened before us, we that are believers will be done. The transition will be complete. Emerging from the fog that was our understanding now, we will be perfectly holy. Just as He intended. "We will be like Him" (I John 3:2), free from the presence of sin. There will be no more death, or tears, or pain.

He is making all things new. It is immediate, and ongoing. He was, and is, and is to come! There is an end to this story. There is a purpose. And there is a calm behind the chaos. He is making all things new. It is happening in you who believe, and He is urging you on in the metamorphosis of the world around you. Breathe in and know: change is coming.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hey Everyone- This is Conor. Thought I would upload a couple of my favorite new photos...I cannot tell you enough how much we are blessed by your prayers and words. Thanks!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

a word of life

"God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who've been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.
(Psalm 113:4-9, The Message)

How great is the God who does not dismiss our pain, who validates and acknowledges our suffering and gives voice to our sorrows in such a way that even poverty or friendlessness are not too mournful to be excluded from the list of agonies that includes infertility.

I feel compelled to speak a word of life to you tonight. I don't know who among you is struggling with the longing for children but I know that you must be there... I felt the Father urging me last night to share these words that I wrote a little over a year ago as a prayer of anguish lifted up to Him. I never intended to do so, but I will follow His lead. I pray you will feel encouraged in knowing that He does hear you and that so much can change in just a few months' time. I learned I was pregnant with Emerette only a month and a half after writing the following:

"The heaviness of my present sorrow is so much that i often cannot face it. In ten days, my daughter will be four - and still, she has no living sibling. Sellers has an amazing imagination, lots of 'friends' she chats with, and I often find myself experiencing a mixture of delight at her incredible ability to create and guilt over my inability to provide for her the reality of a sibling with whom she can actually play.

Father God, if prayers on paper - prayers spoken by footsteps and heartbeats and each and every breath - are enough, why? How much longer? I beg You, I beseech You, I cast myself and my anguish before You - Lord, please, grant me this request. Fill my womb with life as You once did. As David said, 'Bless me for as long as You have afflicted me'. Where are You, Lord? Why is what i pray so earnestly for so seemingly off Your radar? Hear me. Please, God. Please. Show Yourself as real and loving and gracious and just. Quench my thirst and satisfy my soul. Lift my weary hear and annoint me with Your favor."

I pray you will read these words and, no matter what your heart is uneasy over, no matter what the desires stirring underneath, You will know that I lift these up for you tonight. He is faithful. He is good. And He delights to reveal the greatness of His might and the tenderness of His compassion. Be blessed.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

i feel a springtime in my soul

i have stumbled over how to open this particular post a thousand times. Not because there's something major that needs saying but, rather, because there's so little to say. Life has taken on that sweetness you feel in a quiet breeze; calm, still, thoroughly refreshing. I once heard that happiness makes for dull artistry, which, if you look at the greatest works of art throughout history, seems quite true. Literature and art and music and dance and poetry and everything seem to be the result of seasons of depression, sorrow, loneliness, heartache. I find I struggle to feel my own voice emerge amidst the joy I'm experiencing. Not that it's gone. But that, for now, it's buried beneath something with a weight I actually enjoy carrying. Like the weight of a child against your chest. It's a pleasant sensation, one that says being quiet isn't such a bad thing.

And yet there's that feeling that I'm not supposed to remain quiet forever. I actually have known for a few weeks now that I'm supposed to be writing, I'm supposed to be sharing what's going on. In my mind I pressure myself, wondering what compelling thoughts I can possibly have to share now, now that all is well - now that so much has been redeemed and transformed. Aside from a few pictures, does anyone really want to know what I'm thinking about? Even if they do, can I possibly deliver whatever it is they want to read? If it is, in fact, true that happiness makes for dull artistry, then you're about to get one heavy dose of humdrum, because I'm deliriously happy.

Emerette is everything I could've hoped she'd be and even more. It sounds so silly, but even her toes are a marvel to me. I find there's nothing I really dread in mothering now, not the diapers or the sleepless nights. Everything with her took on a feel of splendid opportunity when she was born. Each strand of hair waiting to be swept back, each little finger waiting to be held, everything was a symbol of hope and possibility. As I wrote the night before she was born, to go from years spent agonizing, wondering when the Lord would fulfill the desires of our hearts, wondering if He was even listening, to seeing, in flesh, the manifestation of so many prayers and supplications, was perhaps beyond my ability to express. I can only try to liken it to the sensation you get when plunging into a tub of warm water after standing outside on a very cold day. Every limb, every digit, seems to reel - and suddenly you realize you can feel your toes and your fingers and your cheeks are gaining their color again. It's like being reborn. It's like being alive in a new way. As Proverbs 13:12 says, "unrelenting disappointment makes the heart sick"; indeed, it seems to deaden a part of the spirit. "But a desire fulfilled is like a tree of life" - life. The kind of life you might have convinced yourself you'd never know again.

It's particularly cold tonight. We took Sellers to a park the other day to ride the scooter Santa brought her for Christmas. The park looked massive, and i realized it was because I could see farther than usual, with all the trees barren and the foliage that normally lines the ground dead and swept away by winter winds. I saw myself in those trees. I understand that lifelessness. Or, rather, the look of it. Do they know what is coming? Do they realize what gifts have been stored up within their very limbs, waiting to spring forth in just a few months' time? No matter how dead on the outside, there is potential and possibility and hope buried within every naked branch. Such is the God we serve, weaving redemption throughout all of creation, even knowing we might never notice. Despite the cold, I feel a springtime in my soul. And it is worth all the years of winter's chill.

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