Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why? How?

My mind and heart can't grasp the horror of what happend in Connecticut yesterday.  I know what it's like to lose a kindergartener, but I don't know what it's like to not be able to say goodbye.  I understand the evil of cancer.  I don't understand the evil in the hearts of men.  The numbness is a coping mechanism I suppose.  How else would I be able to go to the grocery store with visions of children being gunned down running through my head?  How else would I be able to cross things off my 'to do' list when my mind is screaming, "Why? How?"  As a society, we are all having a hard time coming to grips with something that before yesterday was unthinkable.


Why do things like school shootings, mall shootings, theater shootings, and murder/suicides continue to happen?
I think they happen because when you take God out of the school, the work place, the government, and the entertainment industry, you take God out of people's daily lives.

Listen to some of the ways God is described in the Bible...

a refuge for the needy in his distress
a shelter from the storm
a source of strength
a stronghold in times of trouble
a father to the fatherless
God of all comfort
God of hope
God of love and peace
God who gives endurance and encouragement
the one who is able to keep you from falling
our shield
strong deliverer
a hiding place

If you take God out of people's lives, you take out all of those things.  Where can people find shelter from the storms in their lives?  Who will be a father to the fatherless?  Where can people hide?  Who will keep them from falling?  How can people live without hope and peace and love?
The answer is, they can't.
They turn on themselves and then they turn on others.

We have made it illegal to post, "Thou shalt not kill," on the walls of our schools.  Why did we think it was a good idea to stop teaching our students to honor their parents, to always tell the truth, to not steal,   to not have sex with someone who is not their spouse, and to be content with what they have? (Exodus ch. 20)  We stopped because those commandments are preceded by ones that say, "You shall have no other gods before me." "You shall not worship idols." "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God."  We stopped teaching God's commands because in our society we don't want to have to submit to any authority but our own.  We want to be free to worship football players, playboys, and presidents.  We want to use God's name as a curse instead of a blessing.  We don't want to allow anyone to acknowledge a higher power by praying in public.  We don't want anyone to tell us that pre-marital sex, abusing drugs and alcohol, bending the truth, abortion, pornography, or homosexuality is wrong.  We like doing those things.  We approve of those things.  We promote those things.  But prayer--no way.  A Bible on a teacher's desk--outrageous.  A Christian club meeting on campus--hateful.


So how can we prevent something like this from happening again?
I heard one commentator say that we need more guns.  If other people at the school had guns, this wouldn't have happened.  Another person said the answer is fewer guns.  If it was harder to get a gun, this wouldn't have happened.  There are no answers from the media or the government or the 'talking heads' that will solve this problem.  1 Corinthians 3:19 says, the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight... The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.

There are two kinds of wisdom described in James chapter 3...
Jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom.  Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.  For wherever there is jealously and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
The wisdom of this world says to look out for yourself.  The wisdom of this world says it's okay to want what other people have.  The wisdom of this world says that if it makes you feel good, it's okay.  The wisdom of this world leads to disorder and evil of every kind.

But there is another kind of wisdom.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure.  It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and good deeds.  It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.   
But the world says "No" to wisdom from above.  The world says "No" to wisdom that comes from submitting to a higher authority.  The world says "No" to wisdom that would require them to change.  The world clings to the empty life handed down from our ancestors.

It doesn't have to be this way.
God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  and the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.  It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
We can make a choice to invite God to be our strength, our hope, our peace, and our strong tower by trusting in his wisdom and submitting to his authority.  Or we can continue to push God out of every school, work place, court room, legislature, sports arena, and theater by relying on the wisdom of man and submitting to no authority but our own.

We are Americans and we are free to choose.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Five years

Five years ago today I was holding my daughter while she died.  
I don't want to remember.
I don't want to forget.
It felt like I was in labor. 
Hours and hours of painful waiting.
Holding her in our bed.
My other children coming in to say goodbye.
Kissing her over and over.
Whispering love in her ear.
Crying out to God.
"I can't do this!"
Not believing that it was really happening.
Waiting for a miracle.
Waiting for death.
When it finally came there was sweet release.
It is finished.
Birthed from this life to the next.
For her
For me
Learning to live without a part of myself was hard.
Is hard.
Do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  
What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
Today I wait with hope.
I press on with perseverance.
I laugh.
I love.
I live.

And I remember.

(2Corinthians 4:18)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Blank pages

Wow.  I hadn't realized how long it's been since I posted.  My mom asked me why I hadn't written and I paused and said, "Well, I guess it's because I didn't have anything to say."
The only reason I got on the website today was because I was having people over this morning.
I was having people over so I needed to dust.
Because I was dusting, I put things away.
When I put something on the shelf with the photo albums I saw that the Christmas Memories book was crooked.
When I took it out to straighten it, I opened it up.
When I opened it up I was struck by the fact that 2008, 2009, and 2010 are blank.  Empty.  After someone dies, the holidays become something to get through--not something to remember.
So today I am looking back through my blog entries trying to find something to remember...

Merry Christmas from the Salamys!
The presents have all been unwrapped. Breakfast is in the oven. Audra is playing with her new hamster. Jacob is putting together his guitar stand. Will is playing his electronic drums. Richard is looking for a missing piece to something. All is well.
Yesterday we delivered pumpkin bread to the neighbors. We found out that the husband two doors down is dying. His wife came to our house later to thank us for the card and the verse we had written on it..."May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him." (Rom.15:13) I wrote the same verse on every card, but she was the one who needed to hear that yesterday.
Last night after church we met our friends the Webbs at the hospital to deliver presents to the kids on the 10th floor. There was a six year old girl who reminded us of Anna. I helped pick out her gifts because I knew the kinds of things a six year old girl would like. There was a boy who was just diagnosed and admitted yesterday---Christmas Eve---single mom----cancer----can you imagine? 
I am so thankful for the peace in our home today because I know how precious it is. I hope you have a blessed day and MAY THE GOD OF HOPE FILL YOU WITH ALL JOY AND PEACE AS YOU TRUST IN HIM.
Christmas is supposed to be a happy time, but it's not always.  I have friends who are celebrating without their loved ones for the first time.  I have friends who may be celebrating their last Christmas with their child.  I have a friend whose father passed away last night.  I have friends who are separated from their husbands.  Maybe Christmas is hard for you too.  Maybe you need to be reminded of the hope that we have because of Christmas.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning." (Psalm 130:5-6)

I read words in Revelation this week that filled me with hope and encouraged me to keep pressing on...
"Only hold on to what you have until I come." (Rev 2:25)
"See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name...(Rev. 3:8)
"I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have..." (v.11)

As I join the throngs in their Christmas buying frenzy, I aknowledge that I cannot hold on to anything I own.  I cannot hold on to the people I love.  The ONLY thing I can hold on to is the truth that I believe.  I put my hope in His word and I press on to the open door before me THAT NO ONE CAN SHUT!
Hold on.
He is coming soon.
Come quickly Lord Jesus. 

What are you hoping to find underneath the tree this Christmas?  Much more exciting that the gifts you will receive next week, is what the Bible says is in store for those who overcome.  So don't get discouraged by your circumstances today. And don't place your hope in the things of this world. 
"I hope I get an ipad for Christmas." 
"I hope I get married." 
"I hope I have kids." 
"I hope I get better." 
"I hope I get that job." 
"I hope I'll be rich." 
All of those hopes are fleeting and fading.  Timothy Jones says that "We cannot live rightly until we aim past life.  Eternity provides the only goal that makes ultimate sense of our lives."
So make it your goal to overcome.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Rev. 2:7)
He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (v.11)
To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.  I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. (v.17)
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations... I will also give him  the morning star. (v.26,28)
He who overcomes dressed in white.  I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (3:5)
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.  Never again will he leave it.  I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God...and I will also write on him my new name. (v.12)
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (v.21)
I may or may not get what I want for Christmas.  I may or may not get what I want in this lifetime. 

But someday....
I will eat from the tree of life.
I will not hurt again.
I  will eat the bread of angels.
I will have a new name chosen by my creator.
I will have authority over the nations.
I will have the morning star.
I will be dressed in white.
I will be acknowledged before God and angels.
I will be a pillar in the temple of God and serve in his presence.

WOW!  I don't understand all of that.  It is beyond what I can imagine.   But I do know that I have something greater in store for me than the new winter coat and the Ginger Peach tea that I asked for. 
And you have something greater in store for you too. 
Keep going! 
Don't quit! 
Press on!

I may not remember any of the presents I received  or what we had for Christmas dinner or any of the parties we attended.  But there are things I learned during those years of grief that I hope I never forget.
I want to remember to press on when I feel like giving up.
I want to remember to reach out to those who are worse off than I am.
I want to remember to not get upset over things that don't matter.
I want to remember to be thankful.

Those blank pages in our memory book mean that there is room for new memories.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In everything give thanks

Slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything... leaves me deeply thankful for very few things.  
I am often guilty of slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything,
"Thank you God for this day.  Thank you God for your blessings.  Thank you for my family and friends. Amen"
Don't get me wrong.  Those are all good things to be thankful for, but do I take the time to notice (and name) the myriad of "little" things I have to be thankful for each day?

The sound of waves
Laughing with my family
Eating outside
Having enough food for an unexpected dinner guest

Do you struggle with discontentment?  Do you spend more time thinking about the what you want instead of being thankful for what you have?

Gerbera daisies
Chocolate chip cookie dough
Boys playing wiffle ball in the back yard 
Seeing a friend at the store
Being invited

The habit of discontentment can only be driven out by the habit of thanksgiving.

Make thanksgiving a habit.  This year, instead of having your kids make a list of gifts they want for Christmas, have them make a list of gifts they already have.

A full house
Time alone
Moms sharing prayer requests around the table
Someone to sit next to
A late night talk with Jacob

We don't have to change what we see, only the way we see it.

(Quotes from A. Voskamp, "One Thousand Gifts")

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Celebrating 3 years in Virginia!

Three years ago this week we left our home, our family, and our dearest friends to move across the country.  It was exciting (I love change), but it wasn't easy.  There were many tears and many fears as we exchanged the familiar for the unknown.  This week we took the time to name some of the things we like about living in Virginia...

Curvy roads
Our house
The Byrd Theater
The Goochland Drive-In
The James River
The Daily Grind (Favorite coffee shop)

What do we miss about Oklahoma?

The people
Our trampoline

We loved our 10 years in Oklahoma.  It was the best of times and it was the worst of times--literally.  But the only things that can't be replaced in our new State are our friends and family (and apparently our trampoline).  But fortunately our relationships are also the only things we can carry with us as we move. We are thankful for our old friends, new friends, and the friends we haven't met yet.  We know that someday if we move again, it's the people we will miss... and maybe the drive-in theater.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Special attention

In the 13th chapter of Luke, Jesus tells this story:
A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed

I'm assuming that this is referring to God and that He is looking to see if there is fruit in our lives.     He comes again and again to see.  
Finally, he said to his gardener, 'I've waited three years, and there hasn't been a single fig!  Cut it down.  It's just taking up space in the garden.'
When God looks at my life, is he disappointed?  Am I just 'taking up space' or am I bearing fruit?
The gardener answered, 'Sir, give it one more chance.  Leave it another year, and I'll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer.  If we get (fruit) next year, fine.  If not, then you can cut it down.' (vv. 6-9)
I am picturing a scene where God is fed up with those who are 'taking up space' and Jesus is interceding on their behalf.  Give (them) one more chance.  The gardener promises to give the tree special attention and plenty of fertilizer.  Fertilizer is defined as 'a substance added to increase productivity and growth.'  I am assuming that represents the Word of God.  But what does special attention mean?

I remember when Anna was sick and Richard thought God was giving us too much attention.  He begged God to leave us alone--to stop working on us--to give us a break.  He echoed the words of Job,
What is man that you make so much of him,  that you give him so much attention,  that you examine him every morning and test him every moment?  Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant? (Job 7:17-19) 
What if 'special attention' involves difficult circumstances.  What if suffering is what makes us better/more useful/deeper/compassionate/wiser?  I can list hundreds of examples of people who have born fruit as a direct result of their suffering.  In my own life, losing a child was the worst thing I could imagine, but even that produced fruit.
No (hardship) discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11) 
The harvest/fruit is righteousness and peace which is produced by suffering.  I would never choose to suffer.  If you gave me a choice to have Anna or to have righteousness and peace I would choose Anna.  I'm human.  I don't like suffering.  But Jesus said that in this world we would have trials and tribulations.  It's part of life.  It can destroy us or it can be what transforms us from a tree that is taking up space to one that bears fruit.
Perhaps you are going through a difficult season in your life.  What if you are receiving 'special attention' from the gardener?  It doesn't feel special.  It's painful.  But just because something is painful doesn't mean that it's bad for us.
What if suffering keeps us from just taking up space?
What if suffering is what makes us fruitful?

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

(Blessing, by Laura Story)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Redeem the day

On Anna's birthday I prayed, "Lord, redeem this day."
To redeem means buy back free from what distresses change for the better convert into something of value make worthwhile

I wanted May 29 to be free from distress.  I wanted it changed for the better.  I wanted it converted into something of value.  I wanted it to be made worthwhile.

That morning I listened to the song "Unredeemed".
"When anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord it will not be unredeemed... You never know the miracle the Father has in store.  Just watch and see.  It will not be unredeemed."

I prayed for a miracle.
Because there was no birthday breakfast, I fasted.
I toured the cemetery.
I had lunch at one of Anna's favorite restaurants.
I cooked dinner for the people at the Ronald McDonald House.
I played Anna's High/Low game.

The next day I wrote, What was the miracle?  
There were no big surprises.
There were no moments of great joy.
Perhaps it was a miracle that I didn't stay in bed all day.  Perhaps the miracle was that Jacob told his friends about Anna.  Perhaps God touched the heart of the tour guide when I told him why I was at the cemetery.  Perhaps the miracle happened after we dropped off the food and prayed for the people at the Ronald McDonald House.  Perhaps I can't always see the miracles God is doing.  

"The most beautiful lives are the outcome of anguish and tears [Ian and Larissa Murphy, Nick Vujicic, Lorraine Patterson, Patrice Williams, Jamie Spangler, Joni E. Tada, etc.]... The elevating and perfecting of character come largely through sorrow... I falter sometimes when I try to say, 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted.' [Ps. 119.71] But I can now and then catch a glimpse of the truth of it."                                                    (Mrs. C Cowman, Consolation)

Beauty from ashes.
That's the miracle.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A week in review...

In the last 7 days we...
Remembered Anna on her birthday by taking a tour of Hollywood Cemetery...

While we were on the official tour, we saw my friend Betty's marker.  She wanted to have a one last witness to the people walking by on their way to see the graves of James Monroe and John Tyler.  I didn't know how I would ever find Betty's memorial among the 60,000 people buried in Hollywood, but we walked right by it!

Then we took dinner to our local Ronald McDonald House.

Anna's Mexican Fiesta of course!

We also enjoyed my sister's first visit to Virginia and tried to show her some of the sites.

We gave Asta a haircut.

We celebrated Jacob's birthday (early) with his friends-- 
after dinner at Kuba Kuba and after the tornado warning expired.

I'm guessing there were around 30 kids give or take a few.  Jacob brought his record player downstairs and at one point they were listening to The Sound of Music.  Pretty wild and crazy, huh?

I organized the team party after the final regular season game.  
We are the number one team in the National League going into the playoffs--Go Cubs!

We had a birthday breakfast for Audra and Jacob... and a birthday lunch....and a birthday dinner...

And we said goodbye to our sweet, cuddly bunny.
(This picture was taken a few weeks ago when she was relaxing in Audra's arms.)
Richard found Buttons dead on Sunday morning.  He wanted to wait to tell Audra until after church.  Then he wanted to wait until after lunch.  (Have I mentioned that Richard's parents waited a week to tell him that his dog died when he was a child?)  I was so stressed out by all the waiting.  I was about to burst.  I was fixing lunch when I heard Richard call out, "Marlo, Audra wants to go check on Buttons!"  I didn't know he had been mulling over the best way to break it to her gently.  Without even thinking, I ran into the room, grabbed her and blurted out, "Audra, an owl got Buttons!"  It might not have been the gentlest way, but it was clear.

It has been an emotional  and busy week.  I was hoping that things would settle down after today, but since we still have a birthday sleep-over, the 5th grade party, finals, Audra's play, and the baseball playoffs I guess we will have to wait for summer to relax.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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

As I look back through pictures of Anna I am AMAZED by her smile.  One day I was reading her the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  When we finished, I asked her, "Have you ever had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?"  She thought for a minute and said, "No."  I said, "Really? You can't think of one?"
This child had two liver transplants, multiple surgeries, and more chemo than I can count.  She spent months at a time in the hospital.  She was sick for half of her young life and she couldn't remember a bad day.
She continues to amaze me.
I think it's a terrible day when I have cramps.  I think it's horrible if I have to wait in line too long.  I think it's a no good day when someone doesn't return my phone call.  I think it's a very bad day if the air conditioner breaks down.
I think my daughter was a better person than me.
I know I am a better person because of her.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lost and found

Will was sick on Monday and Tuesday last week.  On Wednesday he and his friend wanted to play with their ipods, but Will couldn't find his.  I wasn't too worried.  I thought it would turn up, but it didn't.  Not on Wednesday, not on Thursday, not on Friday.  Will was upset.  He had bought the ipod with his own money.  I didn't know where else to look and I didn't want to buy a new one.    On Saturday I wrote in my journal, Lord, please help me find Will's ipod.  You know where it is.  Show me.  Saturday night I woke up in the middle of the night and prayed again, Lord please help me find that ipod.  Show me where it is.  Then the thought came to me,  I should look in my purse.  So what did I do with this divine revelation?   I rolled over and went back to sleep.
The next morning my daily reading "happened" to be the 15th chapter of Luke which "happens" to contain three parables about finding what is lost.  The first parable was about the shepherd who had 99 sheep and went looking for the one that was lost.  He was so happy when he finally found it.
There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!  (Luke15:7)
Those words always bothered me.  I thought they were kind of harsh if you are one of the 99 who weren't foolish enough to wander off.
The second parable was about a woman who lost one of her 10 coins and searched the whole house until she found it.  She was so happy that she called her neighbors in to rejoice with her.  (A rather strange reason to have a party.)  When I looked at that parable, I was able to understand that the coin that was lost didn't mean any more to her than the other coins.   They were probably identical.  What set that coin apart and the reason she cared so much, was its lostness.  It's the same with the sheep.  I'm sure those 100 sheep were practically identical.  It didn't matter which one was lost.  The shepherd would have gone after any one of them. There would have been equal rejoicing no matter which sheep or which coin had been lost.
I wrote in my journal,  The rejoicing is great whenever any lost are found.  then I added, (ie. the ipod touch)
Now I know that Jesus did not mean for those parables to apply to lost ipod touches.  I know he was talking about lost people.  But as I prayed again, Help me find that ipod.  Show me where to look,  I was prompted, Get up right now and go look in your purse.  So I got up, went downstairs and looked in my messy purse that I had been carrying around all week and there it was!
After I showed Richard that what was lost was found (Will was still asleep) I wrote in my journal, Thank you Lord for telling me where the ipod was!!! You are the God who sees! (Which is also what Hagar called God in Genesis 16:13).
When Will woke up I was able to show him how God had answered our prayer and we rejoiced together that what was lost was found!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bittersweet day

Bittersweet: (def.) both pleasant and painful

Yesterday was Mothers Day and I had five reasons to celebrate-- both my mother and Richard's mother are alive and well and I have three healthy children.  I rejoice in my blessings!  I am very thankful for what I have, but something else I have is an empty chair.  It sits right next to mine at our table.   I suppose I could get rid of it, but I like to fill it with guests whenever possible so I leave it there.  Most days that chair does not bother me.  Most days I don't give it a second thought.  But on Mothers Day I see the empty chair and it makes me sad.  My sadness doesn't keep me from being happy for the chairs that are full.  I know that those too will be empty someday as my children grow up.
So on Mothers Day as I reflect on what was, what is, and what will be, I experience both pleasure and pain.
It's bittersweet.
It's life.

Will and Richard made strawberry french toast for breakfast

After church we had a picnic in the park...

and then headed over to the stadium to watch the Flying Squirrels play baseball.  
(Yes, this was MY idea.)

 After a token Sunday nap, we grilled steaks outside...

 and the best part was that I got to stay outside while everyone else did the dishes
(see Will in the window)

Those who still had room enjoyed ice-cream by the chiminea.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Joy ahead

Yesterday someone asked me to talk to a friend whose daughter is dying.  This person told me that her friend didn't have anyone to talk to.  It reminded me of a night five years ago this month (seems like yesterday) when I didn't have anyone to talk to either.  We had just had the "There's nothing more we can do" talk with Anna's surgeon.  (Trust me, that is a conversation you never want to have with a doctor.)  Richard and I were still reeling from the news and were unable to help each other.  In my desperation, I reached out and called four different people in Oklahoma (we were in Delaware) and no one answered the phone.  I believe it was God's way of saying "Run to me and no one else.  I will comfort you."
But that dark night I couldn't even talk to God.  Earlier in the day I had confidently quoted Job and said, "Tho he slay me, yet will I trust him," but the truth is, I NEVER thought God would slay me.  I never thought my daughter would die.
Later I remembered a verse I wrote in my journal before she was born, when the doctor told us that the baby I was carrying might have Downs Syndrome.
'Why are you so angry?' The Lord asked...'Why do you look so dejected?  You will be accepted if you respond in the right way.  But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out!  Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.' (Genesis 3:6-7)
5 1/2 years later I had to choose again to respond in the right way or I would be destroyed by my own grief.
I chose to trust that God was in control of the situation.
I chose to trust that he would fulfill his purpose for Anna--and for me.
I chose to trust that what I could see was temporary and what I could not see was eternal.
I have that same choice  today when I am faced with something that doesn't go my way.  Will I respond correctly or will I be destroyed by my sin?
When I talk so someone whose child has recently been diagnosed with cancer, one of the things I tell them is, "It's not all bad.  There is good.  Look for it."  When something tragic happens, you think that you will never be happy again.  It's not true.  We had some dark and painful times, but we also had some wonderful, blessed, never-trade-them-for-anything moments.
When someone dies, you feel certain you will never be happy again.  But that's not true either.
Because of the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).  Because of the joy set before me, I too can endure the sufferings of this life--including my child's death.
But, Jesus didn't just come to give us eternal life someday.  He came so that we might have abundant life today.  For a long time after Anna died, the only thing I looked forward to was my own death.   Now I am looking forward to company coming this weekend, a date with my husband, a shopping trip with Audra, a family vacation, a nephew's wedding, and so much more.  It's not the life I planned, but it's a good life with good things.
If you are suffering, remember that there is joy ahead--in this life and in the one to come.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

A couple of weeks ago I was shopping with Audra.  I was looking for some sensible shoes--you know, the kind that go with everything.  
Instead I found these...
They are identical to a pair that Anna wore nearly every day.  (You can wear flip flops year-round in the hospital.)  Her feet never got any bigger so she never out grew them.  She wore them so much that one of the flowers fell off.  That didn't bother her, but after a while it bothered me so I pulled the other flower off so they would match.     Two weeks ago when I saw these on the shelf, I knew that I had to have them.  (And when it's your birthday month you are allowed to splurge a little.)  They aren't practical.  They don't match everything.  But they are my Anna shoes and they are perfect.

#1023. Lime green flip flops in my size

Two days ago I came home to a clean house.  I figured out that Richard must have come home on his lunch hour and cleaned while I was gone.  The perfect early birthday present...I thought.  Later, Will and I were home by ourselves when the doorbell rang.  Will went to get it and yelled, "Mom, Grammy's here!"  My sweet mother came all the way from Kansas to make omelettes and muffins for my birthday breakfast.  Thanks Mom!

#1024 Surprise visitors

After a quick trip to the orthodontist (for Audra) and a manicure (for me) it was off to Peter Chang's for lunch.  For a sweet-and-sour-chicken kind of girl, I think I did pretty good trying black mushrooms, bok choy, tofu, and whole garlic cloves.

#1025 Lunch with friends

"Slimy, but it didn't gag me" was what I said about the mushrooms.  
One of my friends said she would be sure to pass my compliments on to the chef.

#1026 Trying new things

Monday, April 23, 2012

Grateful for another year...

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

One year ago I made it my goal to notice what I have instead of what I don't have.
One year ago I began to look for the blessings that surround me every day.
One year ago I set out to be thankful... 1,000 times.

895. Sunday afternoon naps
901. My children, here, now
924. Having tea in a friend's kitchen
927. Eternal hope
928. Teenage boys being silly
937. A creek to explore
949. Surprise visitors from China
953. A new baseball team with new friends we haven't met yet
957. Digging deep in God's word
968. Warm towels from the dryer
970. Watching a movie at the Byrd theater
973. Planning a trip
977.Open doors and open windows
981. A family game of four-square
985. Walking and talking
989. Sunrise Easter services
991. Footprints in the sand
993.Cashiers who cover 13 cents when two boys are short on cash
995. The greeter at Walmart who calls out, "Bye love!" in a Scottish accent
996. Getting rid of stuff we don't need
998. Talking about Heaven
1,000. Counting my blessings

I am thankful that I have way more than 1,000 things to be thankful for!

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter 2012

We started our Easter week with a Passover celebration.

Matzah, charoset, parsley, salt water, horseradish... a lot goes into the preparation.

Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." (Luke 22:8)

The cup of sanctification...

Washing of hands...

Reading Exodus 12...when I see the blood, I will pass over you...

Ten drops to remember the ten plagues.

Eating the meal...

The cup of redemption...

I think the evening might have been too long for one of our guests... Wake up Erik, it's over!

Other images from Easter week...

Beautiful Easter azaleas in our front yard.

A lily of hope.

Do you ever get too old to dye eggs?

I don't think so.

We did something different this year and spent Easter weekend at the beach.  

Will and Audra didn't seem bothered by the cool temperatures.

Sunday morning we went to a sunrise service on the beach.  This is what it looked like when the service started.  Notice the full moon to the left of the bandstand.

This is what it looked like after the sun came up.

I love this picture of Audra.  If you look closely you can see a little sumo wrestler on the bike handle next to her.

We went to one of our favorite author's (Randy Singer) church for the 9am service.  AWESOME! 
Then we waited two hours for a table at Doc Taylor's.   While we were waiting, we walked back to our hotel and changed clothes so we really only sat on this bench for about 30 minutes.

Then it was back to the beach for baseball...

burying each other in the sand...


and playing in the FREEZING water.

I don't have a picture of it, but while we were eating our Sweet Frog yogurt, a school of dolphins (at least 12) started frolicking in the water in front of us.  They were jumping out of the water and flipping their tails.  One of them was tossing a fish up in the air and catching it. SO COOL!  

Where were you when I said [to the sea]... 'This far you may come and no farther.  Here is where your proud waves halt'. (Job 38:11)

Early Monday morning I was sitting on the Boardwalk watching the waves with my Bible on my lap when a man walked by and said, "Psalm 93."  I smiled and said, "Thanks, I'll check it out." 

  The seas have lifted up, LORD, 
   the seas have lifted up their voice; 
   the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. 
 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, 
   mightier than the breakers of the sea— 
   the LORD on high is mighty.

He is risen.  He is rised indeed!