Sunday December 20, 2009

ADVENT ~ Fourth Week
Lift Up Your Head & Behold!

Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates;
Behold, the King of glory waits;
The King of kings is drawing near;
The Savior of the world is here!

A Helper just He comes to thee,
His chariot is humility,
His kingly crown is holiness,
His scepter, pity in distress.

O blest the land, the city blest,
Where Christ the Ruler is confessed!
O happy hearts and happy homes
To whom this King in triumph comes!

Fling wide the portals of your heart;
Make it a temple, set apart
From earthly use for heaven’s employ,
Adorned with prayer and love and joy.

Redeemer, come, with us abide;
Our hearts to Thee we open wide;
Let us Thy inner presence feel;
Thy grace and love in us reveal.

Thy Holy Spirit lead us on
Until our glorious goal is won;
Eternal praise, eternal fame
Be offered, Savior, to Thy Name!

~Georg Weissel, tr. Catherine Winkworth

Zechariah 8:1-8

And the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the LORD: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the LORD of hosts? Thus says the LORD of hosts: behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”

[as a side note… I LOVE THIS next part!]


The Incarnation began a new world: old things have passed away; behold all things have

become new” (2 Cor. 5:18). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself ” (2 Cor.

5:19). In the Incarnation we learn that “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (Jn. 1:4,5).

Themes of newness and light should always pervade our Christmas celebrations. The

northern hemisphere has an especially nice background—darkest winter—to emphasize light

overcoming darkness. Sometimes we decorate our homes with lights as a symbol of turning

back the night, of the brightness scattering the darkness. Just when the sun is farthest from the

earth, the Light of lights moves us toward spring.

In a parallel way, we emphasize newness by pressing forward toward a restored Eden. To

plant a tree full of “fruit” in our living rooms in the middle of winter is another way we picture

turning back the death of winter. The tree itself is not some compromised pagan carry over.

The symbol is originally biblical; trees of life and knowledge are central to our Edenic origins.

Sure pagans slunk off with Edenic symbols and worshiped the creature rather than the Creator,

but that is their sin, not ours. The Bible begins and ends with a tree, and the reversal of the

Fall gets its strength from the Incarnation: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

This newness of life is not only pictured in fruitful trees; the whole creation has been

made new. Christmas is the beginning of the New Heavens and Earth, and this naturally comes

to expression in our gift giving—new clothes, new tools, new games, new books—a new world.

And if the Lord blesses and your tree is gloriously surrounded with boxes on top of boxes of

this new order of stuff, you can stoop down level with all those boxes and see that the boxes

resemble a city skyline, a new city, “the great city, the holy Jerusalem”—“the foundations of

the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones” (Rev. 21:19) where the

nations “bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it” (Rev. 21:26). And in the middle

of this city is “the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month.

The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2)—your Christmas tree.

Most Christian treatments of Christmas wallow in complaining about materialism and

commercialism. Those concerns obviously have their place. But we must learn to delight in the

life of God. If you have a healthy family, focus on the positive vision—light and life and newness.

This is a time when the world turned from a desert drought to the abundance of Christ.

~Douglas Jones, from “A Family Liturgy…

Behold! the mountain of the Lord
In latter days shall rise
On mountain tops above the hills,
And draw the wondering eyes.

To this the joyful nations round,
All tribes and tongues, shall flow;
Up to the hill of God, they’ll say,
And to His house we’ll go.

The beam that shines from Zion hill
Shall lighten every land;
The King Who reigns in Salem’s towers
Shall all the world command.

Among the nations He shall judge;
His judgments truth shall guide;
His scepter shall protect the just,
And quell the sinner’s pride.

No strife shall vex Messiah’s reign
Or mar the peaceful years;
To plowshares soon they beat their swords
To pruning hooks their spears.

No longer hosts encountering hosts,
Their millions slain deplore;
They hang the trumpets in the hall
And study war no more.

Come then, O house of Jacob, come
To worship at His shrine;
And, walking in the light of God,
With holy beauties shine.

~Michael Bruce, paraphrasing Isaiah 2

“The angels knew what was going on even if no one else did. They grasped the bizarre reality of Shakespeare stepping onto the stage, of God making Himself vulnerable, dependent, and human — making Himself Adam. And so, in a more appropriate sense, they arranged a concert and put on what was no doubt the greatest choral performance in planetary history.

Were the kings gathered? Where were the people with the important hats? Where were the ushers, the corporate sponsors?

The Heavenly Host, the souls and angels of stars, descended into our atmosphere and burst in harmonic joy above a field and some rather startled shepherds.

But the crowd was bigger than that. The shepherds were a distinct minority. Mostly, the angels were just singing to sheep.

I’m sure those animals paid attention, and not just because there was a baby in their food bowl.

Sidenote: Does this sound like something a human would make up? Does it sound like something a bunch of cult builders would create to impress potential tithers?

And then the Holy One, the World-Maker, was born in a …in…uh…

And the angels themselves descended, overflowing with jubilation and sang to a randomly selected flock of sheep and a couple of their unwashed, illiterate shepherds — the Lord Incarnate’s first worshipers.”

~N.D. Wilson, from “Tilt-a-Whirl”

[Christmas stockings are] quite delightful. And, yes, lots of the stuff I put in them is entirely unnecessary. But God gives us “unnecessaries” all the time. Like the flickers (woodpeckers) out on my fence. And the pink winter sunsets. And the red berries hanging so colorfully from the bare branches of the Mountain Ash.  And the powdery snow falling quietly on the trees. Who needs all that stuff? Totally redundant and perfectly wonderful. God stuffs our stockings full of unnecessary pleasures and over-our-quota goodness day after day. Oh, to be like Him.
~Nancy Wilson

Philippians 2:12-16

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

John 12:46

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

Thursday December 10, 2009

I have a new diagnosis – I have a somewhat rare autoimmune disorder that gives my babies only an 8% chance of survival without treatment.
Thus, I have new treatment – it’s called IVIg, where my blood gets infused via i.v. with a medicine made from about 1000 people’s plasma. This monthly (or so) treatment should give our babies at least a 50% chance to survive.
And also, my womb has a new tenant Baby Six has slipped in as secretly and quietly as Peace slipped out. Praise be to the Lord, who does all things well!

Please uphold us in prayer.
We are still in grief, and trying to plow in hope.
These next few days and weeks are very tentative and scary.
May God have mercy upon our family, and preserve Baby Six for life in the Kingdom on earth.
And may He use His gift of medical advances to enable my womb to care for this (and future) baby(ies).

Wednesday December 2, 2009

I casually ordered a book online recently — it was one of those times on when I wasn’t quite at the $25 mark, and wanted to reach it in order to have free shipping. Anyway… so I (almost haphazardly) added one more book to my cart before checking out.
It was this book.

The One Year Book of Hope
by Nancy Guthrie

It’s been sitting on my desk for a few days now, and I was considering saving it for January, when I could actually use it as a daily read for 2010; you know, since it’s organized into a “one year” format.
But today I decided that I needed to crack open its cover.
Today I needed to know that hope still exists.
Because some moments, I just don’t see it.

On one of the first pages, there is simply this quote:

Comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it.
If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end:
if you look for comfort you will not et either comfort or truth–
only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Then I read the “Acknowledgments” page — that’s when the tears began.
I took off my glasses, wiped my cheeks with my sleeve, took a sip of tea, and turned the page.

Two sentences into the “Introduction,” I lost it again. Something about the phrase “loss that changed everything about your life in an instant” hit me hard. She gets it. The author gets it. It isn’t just one thing in my life. It’s one thing in my life that suddenly, instantaneously changed everything.
She goes on, and another phrase pinpointed reality for me when she mentioned “all the questions that taunt us in the midst of tears and keep us awake in the night.” I’m not sure which is worse — that scenario or the nightmares when I do sleep. But either way, she gets it.

The author shares the story of losing their baby girl due to Zellweger Syndrome. She says, “Though we had shed our share of tears during her life, and while I was hopeful that those tears would lighten my load of grief after her death, it didn’t seem to work that way.” During Peace’s life, I hoped it would work that way too. But nope, it didn’t. She goes on, “It seems to me that most losses aren’t just one loss, but a series of losses. For a while I grieved Hope [her daughter]‘s death. Then I grieved her limited life. Then I grieved our loss of potential.” A series of losses. Oh God, how true.

Later in the “Introduction,” the author explains something her sister-in-law shared with her. When asking how you can get through and deal with the death of such a dearly loved one, her sister-in-law said “‘Manna.’ She explained that just as the children of Israel were dependent on God to provide manna to sustain them every day while they wandered in the wilderness, I had to depend on God to give me the manna I needed every day to sustain me as I grieved my loss… Every day.

Stop crying.
Wipe those tears, Melissa, you’ve gotta keep reading.
Look at the next page.

Processing pain and embracing its lessons are daily endeavors. Every day we need a little more light to illumine our darkness.”
Oh praise God, I am not alone.


First lesson, focusing on Psalm 119:28-30. I weep with grief; encourage me by Your Word…
Good sentences: “When we are hurting, it seems like everyone wants to fix us… Well-meaning friends and family tell us what to do and how to feel, only adding to our confusion.” “Oh, the painful thoughts that go through our heads when the hurt is deep!” “God’s Word speaks the truth we are desperate for, even as we weep with grief.” “Honestly, I resent it when someone seems to pat me on the head with a Bible verse in a way that seems to devalue my genuine hurt and dismiss my deep questions.” “The truth is what we need most when the hurt is the deepest.”
The exercise at the end was reading Psalm 119, and writing down what the psalmist asks God for that I also want to ask of God.

Second lesson, focusing on Psalm 56:8. All my sorrows… All my tears… Each one…
Good sentences: “I used to rarely cry, but now tears are always close to the surface, just waiting to be released. It is as if there is a broken place inside me where tears are stored. Letting them out has been the only way to release the pressure of the pain.” “Some see tears not only as a loss of control but also as a lack of faith. It is as if the physical manifestation of tears gives evidence of a spiritual deficiency–that if our faith was big enough… we simply wouldn’t be this sad.” “It is as if we think our grasp of spiritual realities can erase the hurts of being human.” “God does not discount or dismiss your tears.” “He wipes them away.” (Isaiah 25:8) “And Revelation 21:4 tells us that not only will He wipe away tears, He will remove all of the sorrow that caused them.”
The exercise at the end was reading Psalm 56, and writing a list of what David determined to do despite & through his tears.


So that’s my new book.
It’s my new lifeline, I think, really.
I made it through the first two devotional pages/meditations. The pages are already getting dimpled with salty tears, and covered in blue ink from my ready pen.

If you know someone who is grieving — I think I can safely say (although officially only on page 3), that you need to give them this book.
Pray that God would use this book in my life, that He would renew my hope, and that I would have the courage to continue reading.

Wednesday December 2, 2009

I should have posted this one a couple weeks ago when Pastor Sumpter (Moscow, ID) wrote this one… but if you adjust the beginning by a couple weeks, it is still entirely fitting. Hope those preparations are well in order! And if they aren’t, no worries — just enjoy catching up. 🙂
I’m adding some bold text to this exhortation, fyi. Because I simply love it! People drive me batty when they want to downplay Christmas with the excuse of “fighting commercialism” (or whatever). It ends up that they are the ones focusing more on money and material things than anyone else, and mucking up the joyfulness of giving in the process, not to mention forgetting God’s goodness. It’s stupid. So I love how Sumpter words this. It gave me goosebumps the first time I read it. I wish I could memorize it and recite it the next time I hear someone pull out the conversation starter of un-Christmasing this year! And like Mr. Klein (an officer from our church who is currently serving in Afghanistan) said, this is our time of year!! Let’s make it look like it. We Christians own this season. It’s ours. Go, show the world.

We are drawing near to the end of Trinity Season in the Church calendar. Two weeks from today is the First Sunday in Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent is the beginning and the end of the Church Year. It is the end in so far as it commemorates the final coming of the Lord Jesus in judgment at the end of the world, the culmination of all things. And it is the beginning in so far as we look back and remember all the advents of God in history, culminating in the Incarnation. And as we look forward to this season, I want to exhort you to two things: First, on the practical side, you should start preparing now for Advent and Christmas and the coming celebration of the life of Christ. But your preparation should not be based on the commercials and advertisements and catalogues that are beginning to fill your mailboxes. Of course, we want to be a people full of generosity and gift giving is certainly part of that, but begin planning for it. This means planning with regard to your budget, planning to be generous, planning to share with others. This means planning your calendar: how will you celebrate Advent with your family? What about Christmas? How about Epiphany? How will you remember together and with friends and neighbors? Remember that the calendar is really just an excuse to say thank you; the calendar is a way of organizing your thankfulness to God and we express that gratitude by sharing it with our children, with our neighbors, and coworkers. The last point is that we want to do all of this in light of the end. Advent remembers all the ways God has come, and looks forward in faith to all the ways He will continue to come, culminating in His second coming, the Final Advent when the Lord comes to judge the living and the dead. And this means that we want to celebrate, give thanks, and rejoice in light of eternity, in light of the Final Advent. We want to celebrate now as those who are ready for the return of the Master. Of course Jesus may not return for another fifty thousand years, but remembering the end of the story is one of the best ways to be faithful in the middle of it. And the point is just be thankful and rejoice in the Lord, don’t put on a show, don’t envy your neighbors, don’t pat yourself on the back for doing more than the guy down at that other church. Just be thankful, and use every chance you get to make a big deal about the goodness of God.

And here we go, catching up to the first week of Advent. Can I honestly admit that I have never really thought of Advent as a season of penitence? I feel like I’ve been missing something. But I love this reminder in the form of what seems to us to be a dichotomy (but obviously isn’t): penitence being shown by parties and carols and decorations and gifts and chocolate. I love that. And of course by confession and repentance. But those can be joyful and noisy too. Praise God.

Today is the first Sunday in Advent and this season has historically been understood and celebrated as a season of preparation and penitence. And it might seem odd to us as we begin celebrating this season of penitence to start having parties and singing carols and putting up decorations. Isn’t penitence all about sitting quietly, morosely meditating in the dark, all alone? Of course there may always be times for quiet and thoughtful reflection, but one of the most powerful ways the Spirit plows the fields of our lives is through people, through children, through spouses, through parents, through siblings, through other friends and family and even strangers. And so I can’t think of a much better way to celebrate a penitential season than by having numerous occasions with all kinds of people in the same room. Going home for the holidays? Perfect. Going to see Great Aunt so and so for Christmas? Excellent. Having the whats-their-names over for dinner? These are all great opportunities to see the Spirit do His thing. And what’s His thing? Well, how will you respond when the dinner guests are late? Or they don’t like your food? Or they’re kind of cranky about celebrating Christmas? You know it was a pagan holiday, right? What about when the kids run through your freshly picked up living room and leave it in shambles right before the Advent party? What about when Uncle So-and-so launches into a speech on the evils and dangers of Peter Leithart and Douglas Wilson? People are ready made chances to see sin and opportunities to fight your own dragons. When does sin rear its ugly head in your life? When you’re tired, when you’re stressed, when you’ve spent too much money? When you’re annoyed at the commercialism of our culture, when the canned Christmas musack won’t stop? When the lines and crowds are milling around you? Use Advent as an opportunity to see your sins and confess them, to see your pride when you are slighted and confess it, to see your greed and envy and confess it, to see your lack of self control and contentment and confess it. Sinful people can always come up with a tidy penitence. We like the idea of confessing sin in the abstract, but we frequently hate actually doing it. Because it means saying out loud that you were wrong, that you sinned, and asking God and whomever you’ve wronged to forgive you. So plan the parties, decorate and sing and remember to confess your sins so that your joy may be full.

Friday November 27, 2009

Job is not a short book.
At the beginning there is tragedy.
At the end there is restoration.
But what is the rest of the book??

Dealing with friends (well meaning –sure– but let’s admit it — stupid & untimely)
Wrestling with God.

So what does that tell us?
I’m not really going to answer that question.
But think about it.

Our pastor has been preaching about trial the last couple of weeks.
People seem to think that we’re in the position right now where we need encouragement to be happy in trials, to rejoice in all things, to smile through tribulation, to be thankful for the refining fire — yes, these are things that people say. Not infrequently.
These are like Job’s counselors.

There is a definite difference between joy and happiness.
We can be joyful without being happy.
People don’t seem to get that.
Joy comes from who we are in Christ — it ultimately is unshakable.
Happiness, though? That’s more circumstantial. (And, no, it is not listed as a fruit of the Spirit.)
Get off my back.

People think we are sad and frustrated — which we are.
But they think it ends there.
It doesn’t.
In fact, it doesn’t even begin there.

Maybe in a month or two we will be only “sad & frustrated.”
Maybe in time we will be only “in a trial.”
But right now?
It begins with grief.
G-r-i-e-v-i-n-g is not fun.
It is not lovely.
And it is not a quick process, unfortunately.

We are in the midst of it, as Job was.

Eventually, the grieving process ties itself up, by God’s sovereignty & grace.
Eventually, we will be able to focus less on grief and more on physical trials.
And eventually, I will even be able to fall asleep without crying for an hour.

But right now?

We’re past the beginning of Job — the tragedy has occurred.
But we’re yet far from the end — the restoration is somewhere beyond what I can see.
We’re in the middle.
The midst.
The ugly parts.
Wading through waist-deep mud.

And I am praying for the hope and faith to believe that restoration will be at the end.

Thursday November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving morning.
I am a mix of emotions today.
We had thought our arms would be full with a tiny, wiggly newborn for Thanksgiving this year.
And then, after that dream was crushed, we thought (twice!) that at least my belly would be full.
As I sit here, thinking about thankfulness — about wanting to be thankful, about being thankful, about what I am thankful for — I am simultaneously fighting unthankfulness.

(rhetorical questions to follow–do not answer!)
How can I be thankful for four empty seats around our family table?
How can I be thankful for four tiny wooden caskets?
How can I be thankful when the very desire God gave us is threatened?
How can I be thankful when I feel abandoned by my God?
How can I be thankful when my faith is only the size of a mustard seed?

Oh wait.
That’s it.
Luke 17:6 and Matthew 17:20.
I am THANKFUL that my faith does not need to be bigger than a mustard seed today!!!

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field, fruit unto His praise to yield;
Wheat and tares together sown unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come, and shall take His harvest home;
From His field shall in that day all offenses purge away,
Giving angels charge at last in the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store in His garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come, bring Thy final harvest home;
Gather Thou Thy people in, free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified, in Thy garner to abide;
Come, with all Thine angels come, raise the glorious harvest home.

Give thanks to God the Lord; upon His Name now call.
Make known among the people on earth what He has done for all.
Sing praise to Him, now sing; His wondrous acts proclaim.
Rejoice, all you who seek the Lord; come glory in His Name.

Look to the Lord’s great strength; remember all His deeds.
His judgments are in all of the earth; He is the Lord indeed.
His cov’nant e’er will stand; His oath He’ll ne’er forget.
A thousand generations pass; God’s word continues yet.

Sing to the Lord, all earth; His saving power proclaim.
Declare His glory to every race; His marvelous deeds now name.
For great is God the Lord, most worthy of all praise.
He made the heavens and the earth; fear Him and give Him praise.

Splendor and majesty before the Lord are found.
Both strength and joy with Him do dwell; bring offerings, come bow down.
Ascribe unto the Lord the glory due His Name;
The splendor of His holiness now worship and proclaim.

Let now the heav’ns rejoice; let earth give glad refrain.
The world is ’stablished, ne’er to be moved; tell everyone God reigns!
Now let the sea resound, be jubilant all fields;
The forest trees will sing for joy; earth’s Judge is now revealed.

Give thanks to God the Lord; His goodness now declare.
He saves, delivers from every foe; His love endures fore’er.
Give thanks unto His Name and glory in His praise;
Praise to the God of Israel for everlasting days.

Now thank we all our God,
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who from our mother’s arms
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours to-day.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns,
With Them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

With grateful heart my thanks I bring,
Before the great Thy praise I sing;
I worship in Thy holy place
And praise Thee for Thy truth and grace;
For truth and grace together shine
In Thy most holy Word divine.

I cried to Thee and Thou didst save,
Thy Word of grace new courage gave;
The kings of earth shall thank Thee, Lord,
For they have heard Thy wondrous Word;
Yea, they shall come with songs of praise,
For great and glorious are Thy ways.

O Lord, enthroned in glory bright,
Thou reignest in the heavenly height;
The proud in vain Thy favor seek,
But Thou hast mercy for the meek;
Through trouble though my pathway be,
Thou wilt retrieve and strengthen me.

Thou wilt stretch forth Thy mighty arm
To save me when my foes alarm;
The work Thou hast for me begun
Shall by Thy grace be fully done;
Forever mercy dwells with Thee;
O Lord, my Maker, think on me.

Colossians 3:15-16
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Psalm 7:17
I will give to the LORD the thanks due to His righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
   in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
   and with my song I give thanks to Him.
Psalm 50:23
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
   to one who orders his way rightly
   I will show the salvation of God!
Psalm 95:2
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving;
   let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!
Psalm 107:22
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of His deeds in songs of joy!
Psalm 116:17
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
   and call on the name of the LORD.
Psalm 136:1-3
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
    for His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
   for His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
   for His steadfast love endures forever.

and a HAPPY THANKSGIVING, to the friends and family for whom we are thankful.

Monday November 16, 2009

What we have once, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.

—Helen Keller

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

—Martin Luther
King Jr.

You held our hands for a fleeting moment, you hold our hearts forever.


There is no foot so small that it cannot leave an imprint on the world.


Oh, do I miss my babies tonight.
All of them.
I am feeling so empty.
And trying so hard to have hope.
And praying for God to give me faith.

Thursday November 12, 2009

I am fighting
feeling unfeminine
feeling so incomplete

I am rejoicing in
a husband who adores me amidst everything
our son who makes me smile even when I feel like dying
beautiful, fragrant, abundant flowers
an impromptu ice cream date
parents who do -quite literally- anything & everything for us
siblings who leave muffins on our front porch
mutually encouraging other mommies in pain
voicemail and email – so I don’t actually have to respond until I am stronger
the hope of the resurrection
my five children — FIVE

Saturday November 7, 2009

I do not have the wherewithal to post much new right now.
Like Job, before we can continue with life and pour ourselves into worship, we need to grieve — in Scripture this is described by tearing of garments, covering oneself in ashes, weeping in the square, grieving both privately and corporately, etc… So that’s where we are right now. In deep grief; physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Eventually, yes, the Lord will pull us through the grief and into life & worship.
He always provides.
Our mourning is not inconsistent with the Scriptures or with God’s character. It is part of the process.
So please mourn with us and be patient with us, as we appropriately grieve the death of our child.

Remember the etiquette (“regulating social behavior”, which is loving your neighbor) post, not just for me — but for you, your future, your family, your friends. We are not the only family enduring the death of children.
Remember our cries to God for His mercy, and join us in praying for future grace.
Remember our great love for this fifth arrow in our family, our precious Peace Nikonos.
Remember that there are great resources, both Christian and secular, for dealing with the death of children.
Remember that grief is a process; it takes time, it takes mourning.

Remember the broken hearts, remember the crushed dreams, remember the olive plants who are not sitting around our table, remember the parents & grandparents whose arms are empty, remember the process of grief — and pray to God for mercy upon yourself, your family, your future — and, if you would be so kind, for us & ours as well.

We know that our family belongs to Him.
And we trust Him to lead us through this valley of the shadow of death in His perfect timing.
And we pray for His grace to someday, by His enabling power, fill our home with the pitter-patter of many tiny feet, cries in the nighttime, and laughter in the day.

Thank you for being with us through these trials.
It is so much easier to rejoice with those who rejoice —
but we thank God for you, and your willingness to weep with those who weep.
May God return to you double for your kindnesses.