Wednesday, June 15, 2011

snapshots from earth

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Another birthday came and went. Isabel's 4th birthday was Sunday.  Monday night Tony came home and said, "I'm calling a feast in honor of Isabel's birthday". The boys quickly finished up their chores and we hustled into the van to feast at our local mexican restaurant in town.

As we drove, the sun was beginning to set, I took my camera and snapped away at so many of the images I see but never have my camera or the opportunity.

As I look at them now, I see it the way Isabel may see things...snapshots of a life that she is connected to but from afar.



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Monday, November 15, 2010

Into the lion's den a year later

Last week a friend had a baby boy. She had planned a home birth but ended up delivering her baby in a hospital. It was the very hospital where Samuel was born. The kids and I happened to be in town for a doctor's appointment and wanted to drop by some food and gifts for them.


It was strange. I didn't want to go...I did...but I didn't. I thought it would be fine, we'd just swing by since we were already so close, drop off the things at the nurses' desk and leave.


But as we entered the maternity ward and heard the different newborn babies crying I started to feel the walls closing in on me. I felt sick. My daughter kept asking question after question, my son was asking questions, I was lost weaving my way through the maze of corridors, the crying babies...I heard myself saying "we're going to find the nurse's desk, give them this stuff and get out of here..."

Not very comforting to the little people. Mama was stressed.

As we rounded a corner my sons pointed a ginger finger and said, "You were down there Mama." None of it looked familiar. I just remember my view in the room.


Finally, we were on our way out...we passed a waiting room. My oldest son said, "Mama, there's the room. That is where we were. I tried to sleep. That's where Mrs. D knit all night, where Desiree and Dawna slept." He spoke in an awed hushed voice, as if he were speaking of a special, sacred place.

He said, "I've always wanted to come back here." He said it in such a happy, satisfied way.

"Why?" (I never wanted to set foot in here again.)

"Because...we are so different. We are changed because of what happened here. God used it to change us." He spoke with a grateful tone and with a maturity far beyond his 13 years.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Remembering Samuel's birth - October 21

Desiree, Samuel and Dawna
Our midwives cared for Samuel in life and in death


The little birds trust God, for they go singing
From northern woods where autumn winds have blown,
With joyous faith their trackless pathway winging
To summer-lands of song, afar, unknown.

Let us go singing, then, and not go sighing;
Since we are sure our times are in His hand,
Why should we weep, and fear, and call it dying?
'Tis only flitting to a Summer-land.




He flew away to a summer-land. I like that. It feels so much nicer than thinking about how someone you love died.

He was our little bird, the Lord called him and he had to fly.

Hmm.

I get stuck on the dying part. It's hard to keep your mind straight. You know, focused on what is real, not what feels real here and now, but what is eternally real.

I had been thinking about Samuel's birthday approaching and felt, well, sad. I wanted to do something, to mark it. I didn't want it to just pass without doing 'something' special. One day, my friend Renee called and I just happened to be crying about it (literally) and happened to answer the phone and actually tell her the truth. Later, she surprised me by planning to have Desiree, Dawna and her come over for the day. Desiree has been our midwife with both Isabel and Samuel. Dawna was her assistant. They were all there that night Samuel was born so it seemed appropriate to have them come to remember.



So they came on a crisp, windy fall day. In anticipating his birthday I had this desire to make a chocolate cake with fluffy, light blue frosting. I had to do it and I loved making it. It was a so much fun to frost with. It felt like an art project.


Just look at it. Doesn't it look fun?


FLUFFY WHITE FROSTING
This frosting tastes like marshmallows, has a beautiful shine, and holds its shape well.

1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes. Frost the cake of your choice.

This is a perfect frosting for cupcakes-you can color it any color, then just dip the cupcakes in the bowl to frost them (you don't even need a knife!) Since it contains egg whites, it will dry out and become meringue-like if left uncovered. Keep the cake or cupcakes tightly covered and they should stay moist.


So they came for an afternoon, to remember, to discuss, to acknowledge...what happened, how it happened. To sit and talk about things often not talked about, things people are afraid to bring up. We talked about how we still can't believe it happened.


Here is the Baby Surprise Sweater that I (and my friend) knit for Samuel.
I learned to spin yarn for this little jacket.
We talked about the ultrasound, when we found out, how we found out, how Desiree stood in her bedroom on the phone and felt like she was in a dream. She couldn't believe she was going to have to tell us this news about another baby.

We talked about the night he was born. How afraid and alone I felt. How I dreaded doing it all again.

How Renee came and sat up all night long in the waiting room knitting and knitting, sometimes falling asleep knitting on this beautiful jacket (Baby Surprise Jacket) so that it would be finished by morning when Samuel was born.


How after seeing Samuel's lifeless body, Renee had gone home and laid on her bathroom floor and sobbed realizing how powerless we are, there is nothing we can do. We are the Lord's. He reigns in heaven and earth and does as He pleases.

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?" Daniel 4:35

If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, 'What are you doing?' Job 9:12

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Romans 9:20

"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11

The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. Psalm 135:6


What did we learn and how has his life affected ours?

We talked about what I could have done differently? Is there anything that we can think of that may have caused this? Of course, you just rack your brain to try to come up with solid answers or reasons...something you can know for sure, but these are exercises in futility. The Lord reigns. He does as He pleases to accomplish His purposes.

Something that dawned on me the other day was that the Lord could have taken our first two babies. It could have been something that happened before we had any other children, then this would all just be a distant story to them. But He waited until they were involved. He is actively training them too. He is taking an interest in my children, He wants to teach them through this. He didn't want them to miss out on the jewels of suffering and loss. It's not just about my husband and I.


I love Dawna. Here she is pictured at the hospital a year ago. She played her guitar and sang worship songs before, during and after Samuel was born...

...and again on his birthday in our living room.



Dawna sat and held Samuel so tenderly. I remember her holding him, she had her forehead to his forehead and she was talking to him. I wonder what she said?

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15






I wanted to share a little bit of the blessing that Dawna has brought with her music to this whole experience. She was there before, during and after Samuel's birth. Her worship was so sweet during such a hard time. I filmed a bit of her playing the other day on Samuel's birthday.


We had an apologetics meeting to go to that night. I had to bring something in honor of Samuel's birthday.

It wasn't spoken or announced and most people didn't know but I knew, and my kids knew...those little cupcakes with chocolate sprinkles were a small offering in remembrance of our son's birthday. To acknowledge the silent yet gigantic, gaping, bloody hole that exists in our family.

People are missing.

Happy Birthday our Sweet Samuel. How I wish you could be sitting in a high chair, with light blue, fluffy frosting smeared all over your face and us smiling at you while taking a million pictures, but that was not to be.

It never was.

It was never the plan.

We just thought it was the plan. We assumed. We expected things would go as we planned but God had a different and better plan. It doesn't feel better to me now, but in 100 years I will know how much better it was. And it will have been soooo much better.

So anyway, I made these cupcakes for you.




During the last year the biggest thing that I feel is the need to just be quiet. To sit, to consider, to get through, to survive...again.


This verse in Job has brought me great comfort amidst great sorrow. This is why I feel so quiet.


He knoweth the way that I take.

What else can be said? What can be done? He knows how devastated I am, how dashed my hopes, all that has happened, heard all the careless words spoken...he knows it all and that brings me comfort because I know this is His earth and his world and although things would seem to the contrary, I believe I can trust Him. Read and be comforted yourself...

Streams in the Desert - April 22

He knoweth the way that I take.
Job 23:10

Believer! What glorious assurance! This way of thine-this, it may be, a crooked, mysterious, tangled way - this way of trial and tears. "He knoweth it." The furnace seven times heated - He lighted it. There is an Almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter Marah pool, or to the joy and refreshment of Elim.

That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel. The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lighted not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner - no later) He brings His people forth as gold.

When they think Him least near, He is often nearest. "When my spirit was overwhelmed, then thou knewest my path."

Do we know of One brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our chamber with the first waking beam of the morning; an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, knowing the way that we take?

The world, in its cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of "Providence" - "the will of Providence" - "the strokes of Providence." PROVIDENCE! What is that?

Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth? Why substitute an inanimate, death-like abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, personal Jehovah?

How it would take the sting from many a goading trial, to see what Job saw (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly hope lay prostrate at his feet) - no hand but the Divine. He saw that hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans - he saw it behind the lightning flash - he saw it giving wings to the careening tempest - he saw it in the awful silence of his rifled home.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!"

Thus seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once powerful prince of the desert, seated on his bed of ashes, could say, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him."

- Macduff

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Long Goodnight by Matthew Smith

I first heard this song on Josh Harris' blog. His beautiful Mom just passed away this month. Before she died, she told him that Christians don't say "goodbye" but only "goodnight".

<a href="http://matthewsmith.bandcamp.com/album/goodnight">Goodnight by Matthew Smith</a>

I journey forth rejoicing

From this dark vale of tears,

To heavenly joy and freedom,

From earthly bonds and fears;

Where Christ our Lord shall gather

All His redeemed again,

His kingdom to inherit.

Goodnight, goodnight till then!



Why thus so sadly weeping,

Beloved ones of my heart?

The Lord is good and gracious,

Though now He bids us part.

Oft have we met in gladness.

And we shall meet again,

All sorrow left behind us.

Goodnight, goodnight till then!



I go to see His glory,

Whom we have loved below:

I go, the blessed angels,

The holy saints to know.

Our lovely ones departed,

I go to find again,

And wait for you to join us.

Goodnight, goodnight till then!



I hear the Saviour calling,

The joyful hour has come:

The angel guards are ready

To guide me to our home,

Where Christ the Lord shall gather

All His redeemed again,

His kingdom to inherit.

Goodnight, goodnight till then!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Death worketh in you


"I was crushed...so much so that I despaired even of life,
but that was to make me rely not on myself,
but on the God who raises the dead." 
II Corinthians 1:8,9



Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.


Streams in the Desert, May 18

Rough packages



"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him."
Psalm 25:14



There are secrets of Providence which God's dear children may learn. His dealings with them often seem, to the outward eye, dark and terrible. Faith looks deeper and says, "This is God's secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning."

Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen. When the Tabernacle was built in the wilderness there was nothing rich in its outside appearance. The costly things were all within, and its outward covering of rough badger skin gave no hint of the valuable things which it contained.

God may send you, dear friends, some costly packages. Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings. You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within. If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness in it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of Providence. (A.B. Simpson, Streams in the Desert, May 6)


I just love Streams in the Desert. Sometimes I feel like Mrs. Cowman wrote this book just for me. Everyday the Lord uses it to nudge me along. And this one...oh how well this treasure has been hidden from me. And what a costly package Samuel was to unwrap.

How dark and terrible this has all 'seemed' (been). I long for the day when I can knowingly look back and honestly say how dark and terrible that all was but now I see the treasure the Lord gave.


"He maketh sore, and bindeth up; he woundeth and his hands make whole." Job 5:18



Stay firm, He has not failed thee
In all the past,
And will he go and leave thee
To sink at last?
Nay, He said He will hide thee
Beneath His wing;
And sweetly there in safety
Thou mayest sing.





Sunday, April 25, 2010

Has God Predetermined Everything?



John Piper on God's sovereignty. (Go down and pause the music on the lower right hand column.)

"The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD."  Proverbs 16:33