Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Lord Gives

I wrote this a week before Christmas, when my arms were feeling empty even when they were (and are) so very full. 

“You know, often when God takes something from us He plans to give us something else.  It might be something we can see or it might be part of our character, our walk with God…” his voice trailed off, perhaps in response to my clenched jaw and fists.  

I was 16, staring down into a grave scraped out of the frozen earth where my beloved Labrador was buried, her back still arched with the internal havoc the poison had wrought on her four year old body.  None of us knew how she had ingested the cause of her death, if it had been intended by someone or simply found in the earth, a dead rat, some rotten food.  I didn’t understand why she was there in the ground and my stomach boiled with anger at the words attempting to comfort me.  They came from a family friend who had helped to dig the grave - quite a feat in the Rocky Mountains, especially the day before a snowy Thanksgiving.  I choked down my bitter thoughts along with the tears that wouldn’t stop for days. 

 I never saw exactly what I gained from my puppy’s death.  She had been the answer to my childhood dream of having my own dog and to have it end so prematurely seemed deeply unfair at the time.  I suppose I gained character, as our friend had said, and looking back now I know that I did although I couldn’t put an exact name to it.  

That was many years ago.  

There was a package in the mail last week from my sister.  I smiled as I unwrapped a tiny pair of blue and green crocheted booties just right for the little feet busily kicking the air in my lap.  And then, a much smaller pair, wrapped in white tissue with a note: “December Baby”.  Tiny little booties, crocheted from white cotton, too small to fit anyone meant for this world.  I gasped and a wrenching sob escaped from a deep place inside that I thought had shut.

It all came back.  The loss two days before Christmas, the weeks of bleeding, mornings when I didn’t want to get out of bed to face another day, an internal battle mentally beating myself up wondering what was wrong that something so many others face would affect me so deeply, how I took three pregnancy tests two months later in disbelief and then for months swung between the joy of another pregnancy and the desperate fear that my baby would be taken from me again.  

As I sat there with these two pairs of shoes, one in each hand, I looked at the tiny person in my lap and realized what had happened.  This little man, with his big hazel eyes, expressive mouth, decided opinions and big smiles, he wouldn’t exist had his brother or sister continued to grow.  Although it wasn’t my choice, it was God’s plan.  

I bowed my head, kissing a smooth baby forehead, thanking God because I know He doesn’t always, but this time He has given me something visible and tangible in place of what He had taken.  It’s a strange thing, but this gift, my little Ethan, would not have been possible without loss. 

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:11-12

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Take Heed" by Marie Garreau

My sister Marie has always been one of those lovely right brain individuals that could draw, write poetry and learn another language in no time flat.  In our childhood, I could find her wearing a cape she made herself, wandering the woods with a wreath of flowers in her hair reciting ballads.  I could go on and on about how wonderful she is but I'll just say this: she is a rock of faith and I love her.

She recently sent me this poem and, when asked, said I could share it with you all.  This message is deeply relevant.  I hope it strengthens, encourages, motivates and even warns you as it did me.

Take Heed

The extreme ecumenical unity
Pervading the church of today,
Is degrading the value of conviction,
As it croons “To each his own way.”

Is this not a spawn of our postmodern world
That would have our absolutes blurred?
The devil’s device to lead us from the truth,
Casting doubt on exclusive Word?

You may think you stand, but take heed lest you fall,
The devil is prowling loosed.
Examine your thoughts and affirm what is true,
By this world do not be seduced.

You will not be loved affirming what is truth,
Indeed you’ll be called “one who hates,”
But love them still for they do not know,
In the balance eternity waits.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wyoming - Another Adventure!

After announcing the birth of our bouncing baby boy, Blogger informed me I am now maxed out on pictures without paying per month.  I will probably cave soon to the monthly fee but I keep thinking I should research other possibilities.  Anyway, this put a stop to my blogging for a while simply because I'm a picture person and I can't bear saying something without a picture including some of my precious babies or a flower or maybe a moose or three.  Oh well.  I'm getting over that hangup just to update everything.

Ethan is fat and happy and glorious.  At 8 weeks, he sleeps at 4-5 hour intervals.  He also believes if he isn't being held his life has ended.  Charissa and Brandt adore him.  ADORE.  I wish I could post a picture of his double chin, chubby cheeks and fat roll thighs but for now, you'll have to imagine.

We had a wonderful Christmas.  Even though I knew we were moving a week afterward, we did the tree, the lights, the whole enchilada.  Or cinnamon roll, as it were.  The highlighted gift was Brandt's ukelele given to him by his favorite person, Jeff.  Jeff plays guitar and leads worship in church and he's Brandt's hero.  Our last Sunday in Cooke, Brandt stood with Jeff and "played" for everyone :-)

Our last Sunday...

On New Years Day, we moved from Cooke City, MT to Worland, WY.  This involved Doug driving for 7 hours pulling a trailer around, and on the other side me with kids snowmobiling over the closed pass with our dear friends to load up in our truck that had been parked on the other side of the pass before snowfall.  I don't know if this makes a lick of sense without a diagram.  But here we are now, in Worland!

This is the 20th move of my lifetime and I'm 28.  The 7th move in less than 7 years of marriage.  As a friend said, I used up all my coupons at the beginning of my life.  Needless to say, I'm slightly burned out on the packing/unpacking business and right now, all I want to do is think about the tree I want to stencil on the Master bedroom wall rather than, say, organize the three garbage bags of clothes emptied on the floor of my walk-in (whoo-hoo!) closet where they are sitting after my frantic Sunday morning find-something-clean-that-fits-while-my-hair-drip-dries-since-my-hairdryer-broke-shoot-I'm-late-and-I'm-the-new-pastor's-wife-AHHHH!! escapade.  I think I'll start a new blog.  It will be titled "The Put Together Pastor's Wife".  Just kidding - ha!

I am happy and sad and excited and thankful and wistful and a whole lot of other things.  Worland seems like a fantastic fit for us and we're settling in to the large parsonage (although we can't fully since the carpet will be replaced next week as Charissa keeps having allergic reactions to the previous cats).  You can read more about how God brought us to Wyoming here

I tear up to much thinking about what I miss about Cooke right now.  That blog goodbye will have to be saved for another time.  But right now, we are reveling in a back yard, eating bananas anytime we wish and being poured on with love by another wonderful group of God's people. 

And if you walk a couple blocks down, you can still see mountains.

What a wonderful chapter it was and I know it's a wonderful chapter ahead of us!