Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Comfort To Me

This is from Rachel's Facebook post this week. I see a strong Godly response to grief. 

"If you had asked us last Monday what this Monday would look like, we would have said that our bathroom would be remodeled, Susannah would be potty trained, our babies would be healthy, and we would be anticipating a healthy first check-up with the midwife next week. None of our plans have worked out the way we thought. But, all of God's plans went exactly as he wanted. "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases." Psalm 115:3
"Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?" Lamentations 3:37-38

These verses would not be comforting to us, except that we know that "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." 
So our babies are sick, our bathroom is torn apart, Susannah isn't potty trained, and the most sad of all, we never get to hold our third baby until we get to heaven. Our hearts are aching, the pain is still strong. At the same time, we are not shaken. God is our refuge and we know that he is in control. No amount of faith, no planning on our part could keep our baby alive. God's plan cannot be thwarted. He is sovereign, and he is good. That is comforting. 

We appreciate the many prayers and kind words we have received so far. Thank you all. As you continue to pray, know that we are still hurting and will always miss our baby, but we are ok, because we are resting in Christ and striving to be occupied with joy."

These words make this mother's heart glad. To know that my children are walking with the Lord is something to rejoice about (2 John 4).  If your children do not walk with God, how can they handle loss? What hope is there in any life without Christ?

The picture above is Rachel's rocking chair that was given to her when she was a baby and a blanket that she and Adrian knitted the day after they found out about their loss. It will always be a tangible thing to hold while she waits to see this precious life.

Rachel and Adrian's sweet baby boy, Josiah, has bronchiolitis and daughter Susannah has battled a head cold. Josiah did not like the breathing treatments until his Grammy gave him one. (Psst, I'm the Grammy.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

More Waiting

Our family is no stranger to grief, especially the grief of miscarriage. But walking through this valley with my own daughter is heart wrenching. It's usually easy for me to hide from grief by holding a baby, cooking, cleaning, or basically just avoiding it. There are many needs in our busy household that could easily demand my attention. In the moment of tragedy, the busyness comes to a screeching halt. Plans change, schedules rearrange and we grieve.

No matter how hard I want to hide from the pain, the "crushing hand of God" is ever present. The pain of loss feels like my heart is physically coming out of my chest. The knowledge that the God who created the Heavens and the earth is the one who holds this precious life is the only comfort. He has held many of our babies and he holds us. There are moments when I wish I could physically feel that hold, but I always know He is the Very Present God.

I know that I cannot bring this baby back, nor would I want to since he has seen the face of God.  I rest in the fact that we will see this baby and others that have gone before. (2 Samuel 12:23)

These pictures were taken for Rachel and Adrian's pregnancy announcements. Now they are reminders of a new life that we have to wait to see.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Who Is Your Neighbor?

I love watching how Rachel and Adrian love each other.
Have you ever been to wedding showers or other events that say write a note of advice to the bride and groom?  My response always says-
Love God more than you love spouse OR yourself.
Did you know that these verses are about marriage?
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:29-31
Who is our closest neighbor? Our husband. He shares every part of our lives, yet we have to be reminded how to love him.
"And so train the younger women to love their husbands..." Titus 2:4
We are so busy with loving ourselves, our children, the world and all of its trappings that we forget to love the one whom God has given us - our closest neighbor.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Some Great Reasons for Holding Hands

Daytona Beach 2010
How do you feel when your husband reaches for your hand? There should be a connection that no other hand brings. R. C. Sproul, Jr. wrote about hand holding and I really like the way he says it here.
Hand holding is a way to say both, “You are safe with me” and “Follow me into the adventure.”
These are just a few of my favorite reasons to hold hands -
  • Holding your husband's hand is different than holding your child's. His is bigger, protecting you, leading you through the world. Like Sproul said- safety and adventure.
  •  There have been times when Ray has reached for my hand and I didn't really want to hold his. Hand holding softens those bad feelings, feelings that need to be corrected. I have also purposefully taken his hand to help ease problems we might have been facing at the time.
  • Every time my girls see an even older couple than us holding hands all romantic sentimentalities are expressed. "Oohs, aahs and how cute is that!" are just a few things we might hear from them. Children love to see sweet expressions of love.
Try holding hands today with your husband and talk about how it makes you feel with him.

 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
        and establish the work of our hands upon us;
        yes, establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:17 ESV)

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

New Year's Has to Wait

Two weeks of sickness really brings out who we really are... sinners.

We have to be careful not to sin. Everyone is tired, feels bad and bored. Life and any semblance of routine is nonexistent. Placing one foot in front of the other is a chore, not to mention the mounds of dishes and laundry.

My goal for Christmas decorations every year is to have everything down and put away before Mary's birthday on the third. We were so far behind that we actually didn't even celebrate her birthday until the fifth.... And the decorations are still up and shining brightly, well, not too bright, they are covered in dust now. You know your Christmas decorations have been up too long if they need dusting this badly.

So, now that we have mostly recovered, I am trying to retrain an especially spoiled three year old. Abigail has been to two birthday parties in the past few days and revealed a serious sin nature! Having spent the past two weeks "Christmasing" and doing whatever it takes to survive, child training has been lacking here!

But not only is my three year in need of remembering how to behave, I am too. I have to keep reminding myself that just because I feel bad, I do not have permission to sin. The dishes can wait, I need to recover. The girls have felt bad too, they can wear wrinkled clothes.

The temptation is to feel sorry for myself when I look at how far I am behind. I'm not allowed to be grumpy and irritable about getting back to the routine. Tempers can easily get out of hand and the blame game could escalate.

Knowing these things, I decided to unplug my Christmas lights and let them continue gathering dust for a while longer. I am spending the afternoon looking at where we are in school and praying through those needs and other New Year's goals.

Here is the best picture I got of Mary blowing out the candles on her lame birthday cookie cake. (Much of the cake spilled all over the oven and is still there.) Maybe one of my New Year's goals should be to clean the oven....

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year?

I was on the phone today with someone I love dearly who was grieving the loss of a ten year old little boy. This child was close to her family and church and had died in an accident while enjoying life with his family. She had been consoling me over now nine days of sickness in our home and I was lamely trying to console her.

Neither of us spoke of the giant cloud of another family that we both know and love in serious brokenness. Our hearts are heavy and without thinking, I said, "If we didn't serve a great, almighty God who is ruling over the universe, life would be hard."

Silence on both ends of the phone... Life IS hard.

This new year rings in to heavy weights bearing down hard on many. A family ripped apart because of unrepentant sin. Another family with a huge gaping wound at the sudden loss of a child and serious injuries to another. Families all over the world facing loss simply because they claim the name of Christ.

Years ago, I heard John Piper say something like, "If I didn't know that God was sovereign and in control, I would not be able to handle all this trouble."

Life is hard, but we do serve a Savior who is in control. At our family meal tonight, Ray asked everyone for a Bible verse that could bring in the new year. Several quoted verses about plans, God directing our steps and even a new life in Christ. The only verse that Abigail could remember was,
"And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.'"
We do have hope and we can rejoice because God is alive and well. He is the Savior and will reign triumphant.  We can face difficulties with grace because He has given us His Helper to see us through.

This week as random strangers wish you "Happy New Year," return the greeting with, "Yes, it is a Happy New Year." Maybe not a silly, slaphappy nonsense that we'll see on Times Square, but a peace and blessing kind of happy that can't be conjured up or faked.

Yes, life is hard, but we are confident that God will see us through.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

And Christmas Afternoon the 25th

So instead of going to spend the night with Nana, Ray's mom, we thought there were too many  of us coughing and not feeling good. By Christmas afternoon, Lydia was at urgent care because her cough and fever was out of control. She has bronchitis. 

As of today, everyone in our house has been sick since last Sunday. We have been in and out of urgent care and cvs with bronchitis and flu symptoms. All flu tests have been negative but the doctors aren't convinced that we haven't had the flu. Whatever it is, it's been painful! Abigail has had a fever off and on for seven days and has gotten quite puny. The symptoms have gone five to six days of fever, coughing, body aches, and some nausea. This is one Christmas we will remember.
Lydia was given a mask to wear because her cough alarmed the entire waiting room. She's been a trooper and helping a lot since she was the first one down and the first one to get get well.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Morning On the 24th

Because we were planning to go to visit family on Christmas Day and the day after, we wanted to have our Christmas on the morning of the 24th.

I filled large trash bags with each of the children's gifts and wrote their names on giant tags.

This is how Ray and I opened every present.

The fun started when the girls started opening their bags. We had also filled balloons and put them in their bags so that when they opened it the balloons would float to the ceiling.

It turned out to be a great idea and so much fun. The presents in the bags were also wrapped but the balloons kept little ones excited while they waited for their turn to open.

Our friend Josh made this amazing table and stools for Susannah and Josiah. The pictures that he put the top of it are some that Rachel had started when she was a little girl. The clear coat will keep them preserved for a long time and the table is perfect for snacks and playing.

Our ceiling was dotted with balloons all day long. The purchase of a small helium tank form Walmart was well worth its price.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Some Fun Christmas Events

Christmas cookies and Caroling at the Beals' home

 Church Christmas Program

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Family Update

Ray - is completing his second year of doctoral studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and about to begin his thesis on the marriage of Charles and Susannah Spurgeon. Pastoring, Nourished int he Word Ministries and a house full of daughters keep him very occupied.

Rachel and Adrian - bought a fixer upper and turned their new place into a charming home where joy seems to overflow. The Ten2ndRule has been a lot of fun to watch develop.

Susannah (granddaughter) eighteen month old ball of energy, whose giggle lights up our life.

Josiah- (grandson) born in June and the perfect, sweet little boy to invade this house of girls.

Hannah - is teaching first grade at Friendship Christian School in Suwannee and she definitely has found her calling.

Sarah - is transferring from Truett-McConnell college to the University of North GA and moving home and that makes one happy mom.

Mary - is our resident artist that is completing her goal of reading 115 books in one year.

Lydia - is loving basketball, learning all about Amelia Earhart and that she is the family champion at Scripture memory.

Abigail - plays the role of family princess very well, never stops talking and has learned how to use her little Southern charm.

Me -  I had a small amount of cervical cancer removed and am recognizing that body is truly aging. This year has given me a great sense of appreciation to God for my husband and my life.

These verses seemed to have been the focus of our hearts and minds this year.
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Ecclesiastes 5:20 For he will not remember much the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.