Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Seven years

I’m thankful to have had the life changing experience of being Anna’s mom.
I’m thankful that after 7 years, I wake up with joy.
I’m thankful for a marriage that survived the storm.
I’m thankful for deep friendships grown in the rich soil of suffering.
I’m thankful for the chance to comfort others with the comfort I’ve received.
I’m thankful for a God who can make beauty from ashes.
I’m thankful for the people who remember and those who can never forget because their lives were also changed.
I’m thankful for the knowledge that life on this earth is temporary.
I’m thankful for a future and a hope that does not depend on my circumstances.
I'm thankful that Anna is safely home.

Monday, September 8, 2014

By these things

This summer I read Isaiah chapter 38 which chronicles King Hezekiah's response to God healing him and giving him 15 more years to live,
But what can I say?  He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.  I will walk humbly all my years because of the anguish of my soul. Lord, by these things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too... Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.            (vv.15-17)
I have read those words before and I confess that I have struggled to make sense of them.  Does it really mean that suffering is for my benefit?  How do our spirits find life in suffering?   Can anguish be good for me?
I have seen spirits languish from a life of prosperity and ease.  I have noticed that when things are good, we still find things to complain about... the neighbor's car parked in front of our house; my friend not calling me back; the price of gasoline; the weather.  When times are good, we take life for granted.  When  there is no suffering, we can get petty and picky.
But when we are humbled by suffering, we start being thankful for small mercies... hot tea with honey; a sunrise; a day at home and not in the hospital; being able to breathe.  When we are humbled by suffering, we become kinder and more generous.  When we are humbled by suffering, we are forced to let go of our pride and self-sufficiency.  When we are humbled by suffering we become better people than we were before.
I  know I am a better person because of Anna and the grief that I suffered.  My brother-in-law is a better person because of the physical injuries he suffered.  Joni E. Tada is who she is today, and able to help millions of people,  not in spite of, but because of what she suffered.
Unless we choose bitterness and despair, we can become better because of our suffering. And even though we wish that bad things never happened, we can be thankful for the good that results from them. That does not mean that I will ever desire suffering.  It's hard; it hurts; and it's humbling.  I don't seek it, but when it comes (and because we live, it will come) I can lean into it and learn from it and be transformed by it.

On July 23 we left Virginia for our vacation at Beaver Lake.  We were looking forward to a week of boating and fishing with my sister and her husband.  There was another family there doing the same thing and on July 25, on a huge lake with 500 miles of coast line, our lives intersected.  We were taking turns with the wakeboard and we had just paused to switch skiers when we heard screams.  A young man had been thrown off a jet ski and run over by a boat just a few yards away from us.  Because our boat was faster than theirs and because my brother-in-law knew the lake, we told the man's family that we would take him to the marina (18 miles away) and they could call 911 and have the ambulance meet us there.  We pulled the man (and his mother) onto our boat, wrapped him in our towels and tried to stop the bleeding.  It seemed like it took forever to get to the marina. Although the young man was talking and struggling to get comfortable during the ride, by the time the EMTs got there they had to start CPR.  We didn't know if he would make it.  But he did!  He is still in the hospital, but he is out of a coma and he will be transferred to rehab soon.

I read Isaiah 38 on July 23 and on July 25 I wrote in my journal, "I trust that E's accident will also be for his good." That's a lot of trust.  That's a big order.  But I have a big God.  I don't know the rest of E's story... yet, but I expect that this will change his life forever and that someday he will be able to see good come from his suffering and his spirit will find life in this too.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Get with the times...

Get with the times.
Things are different now.
That was then, this is now.

We see and hear all the time that things are changing.  What was once considered taboo is now broadcast on prime time.  What was considered normal is condemned as being old-fashioned and out-of-date.  We are not allowed to call anything sin because "society has changed" and the old rules are "out of date."

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17

Our culture may be changing, but the Bible says that God doesn't change.  With God there is no variation because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Why is that?  Why doesn't God change with the times?  If he's so smart, then why isn't he enlightened like the rest of us?

God doesn't change because God is perfect.  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

The definition of perfect is "being entirely without fault or defect; flawless; satisfying all requirements; pure; total; complete."

If something is perfect, it doesn't have to change.  If something is perfect, it can't be improved upon.  If something is perfect it is flawless, total, and complete.  God doesn't have any defects that need changing.  His ways cannot be improved upon and his ways do not change.

We change because we are not perfect.  Society changes because society is not perfect.  But God does not change.  He does not have to get with the times; he created time.  He is not old-fashioned; he is eternal.  He is not out-of-date; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Am I perfect?  No I'm far from perfect.  Am I old-fashioned and out-of-date?  You bet I am.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Day 25--

Every day in November I post something I'm thankful for on facebook.  Day 25 is the day Anna died. What is there to be thankful for on this day?

I am thankful to be Anna's mom.  It was an honor and a privilege and a blessing beyond measure.

I am thankful for the people that I met along the way--doctors, nurses, art ladies, and other parents are people that I would never have met if I hadn't entered their world.

I am thankful for Junie B. Jones and butterflies.

I am thankful for the lives that were changed through our story.

I am thankful for the wisdom gained through suffering.

I am thankful that I have received comfort that I can use to comfort others.

I am thankful for a marriage that survived the death of a child.

I am thankful for my other children whose lives were forever impacted, but not defined, by their sister's death.

I am thankful for tested faith that is more precious than gold.

I am thankful for an eternal perspective.  What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I am thankful that I learned to trust God even though I can't understand him.

I am thankful for the 'missing feeling' that reminds me that this world is not my home.

I am thankful for a reunion to look forward to.

I am thankful that Anna taught me to live life while you can and to go to Sam's when you feel like it.

I am thankful for good friends who walked through the valley with us and who remember.

I am thankful that God can make beauty from ashes and change mourning to dancing.

I will always be sorry that she died, but I will never be sorry that she lived.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A woman's choice

Sex is good.  Sex is a gift.  Sex was created by our Creator.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24

It is in the beginning. Man. Woman. One flesh. Sex. It's not bad.  It's not dirty.  It's a part of life.  (But contrary to popular media, it is not the goal of life.)

Why did the Creator gift us with this gift?  Why did he make us this way with these body parts and these hormones?

Be fruitful and multiply... Genesis 1:28

Sex has a purpose... BABIES!!!!!  Oh sure, sex is fun.  Sex is pleasurable.  But it's not just for fun.  It was designed for multiplication.  God made it feel good so that we would do it.  (If getting pregnant was as painful as having babies, there would be a LOT less babies in this world!)

Babies are the result of sex.  Babies are miracles.  Babies are people.  And babies are known by GOD.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

Even before babies are born, God sees them.  He knows them.  He knits them together.

The politicians debate a woman's right to choose.  Do I think women have a right to choose what they do with their bodies?  YES! Women have the right to choose to go outside God's original plan for sex. Women have the right to choose to reject becoming one flesh for life.  Women have the right to choose to have sex whenever and with whoever they please.  But when a woman's choice results in another person being created--someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made--that person has a right too. That person has the right to live.  
A woman's right to choose is not greater than another person's right to live.

So, yes a woman has a right to choose what she does with her body.  But the choice is made in the bedroom, or the back seat, or behind the school, or on the couch.  It's not made in an abortion clinic. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Taking time to give thanks...

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.  John 1:16

Over two years ago I started a journal of things I am thankful for.  Today I have over two thousand entries!  If you have the gift/curse of seeing what's wrong instead of what's right (like I do) I recommend starting your own journal as a way to record and remember the good things in life.

Things like....

Church potlucks
Saturday morning walks with a friend
12 year old boys playing games in the pool
Sonic happy hour
Friends we haven't met yet
The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg
True stories
A movie at the Byrd theater
Making people laugh
King sized beds
Country fried steak at the Pink Cadillac Diner
An emergency room decorated with butterflies
Reading a book in the shade
Funny texts from Jacob
The first night of VBS
Dinner from a friend
Meeting heroes
Flowers in the kitchen window
Chick Fil A by the pool
A husband fixing breakfast

Don't ever stop giving thanks and counting your blessings--even on bad days.  Some days you just have to look harder.

In everything give thanks... 1 Thess. 5:18

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to live on days you would rather stay in bed

Today is Anna's birthday.
I LOVE birthdays, but what am I supposed to do for this one?  Is it a day of celebration or a day of mourning?  Is it a day of laughter or a day of tears?  Do I need to make a birthday cake?

How now then should I live?

These are the answers I found...

Live and keep God's word (Ps 119:17)
Live by faith (Hab 2:4)
Live and believe (Jn 11:25)
Live in God (Acts 17:28)
Live to the Lord (Ro 14:8)
Live for Christ  (2 Cor 5:15)
Live by faith (Gal 2:20)
Live by the Spirit (Gal 5 :25)
Live and bear fruit (Phil 1:22)
Live free (1 Pet 2:16)
Live as a servant of God (1 Pet 2:16)
Live through him (1 Jn 4:9)

I am not supposed to stay in bed today.

I am supposed to live.

Anna Jane Salamy 5/29/02-11/25/07