Monday, September 30, 2013

I Have Placed Before Him My Very Best

Nineteen years ago,
I awoke to a gorgeous fall day.

The sun was shining.
The air crisp.
Leaves vibrant in color.
I drove to work. 

I was 14 weeks along.
I carried within me, life. 
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I took a more scenic route.
I praised the LORD the whole way to work.
My heart sang for joy. 

Later that night my joy turned to utter desolation 
as I began spotting and would ultimately lose the child I so desperately wanted.
I would look for someone to drive me to the hospital because
Gary was spreading manure and
 I couldn't get in touch with him.

I would begin a journey of seeking the strength of God as I had never before. 

I shook as the doctors confirmed our suspicions.
Sobs from deep within surfaced.
They placed warm blankets on me. 
This was not a viable pregnancy.
So, on September 30, 1994 God allowed Gary and I to walk
 through the valley of the shadow of death.
God called our baby home. 
How could this be happening to me?
I had made Godly choices. 
I was a good girl.
I loved the LORD with all my heart.
God rewards those who love him. . doesn't He?
Why would He take from me the very thing I had so desperately wanted all my life. 

Joy left me that day.
I struggled to find it. 
I read scriptures.
As word spread, woman began coming over.
Sending cards, calling.
They had too shared the same heartache. 
I was comforted.

Gary and I attended the services at another church that Sunday morning.
God had an appointment for us. 
We would hear a couple share their story of a long line of miscarriages and the
 beauty of God's grace through that time. 
I would  understand for the first time,
the truth that children are a gift from the LORD;
that they are on loan to us. 
We dedicate them back to the LORD.
 I read the story of Hannah and Samuel.
And in my heart I named our child Samuel. 
And I mourned for what would not be. . .

My faith grew as I leaned on God to heal my hurt;
as I wondered if we would ever have children.
So, like Hannah, I began to pray.

I Samuel 1:27-28
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 
 So now I give him to the Lord
For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.

In God's Mercy, I would bring forth life.
This journey was different. I was changed.
I realized how precious life was
and how quickly it can be taken from you.
Most of the pregnancy was over shadowed with the thought of another loss.
And we prayed. 

If the baby was a boy, we were going to honor Gary's Grandfather,
 and name him Cedric.

On a warm afternoon in the barn, during milking, 
while I was very heavy with child, 
I heard the LORD say to name him Elijah.
(this is not a common occurrence)

When the time came he resisted his entrance into this world with all he had. 
Literally weeks of trying to entice his passage from the womb.
 It was to no avail. 
He needed to be forced into the light of this journey.
 Razor sharp. . .me left with scars. .

On September 2, 1995, after a grueling birth.
God blessed us with our prayed for child:
Elijah Todd Davis
9 lbs 1 oz
22 1/2 inches

17 years, and 330 days later, God would unexpectedly
(to us here on earth) call that prayed for son home.
And once again, I would shake as the life I carried and nurtured was taken from me.
I remembered those words of Hannah so well.

I Samuel 1:27-28
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 
 So now I give him to the Lord
For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.

This child was on loan to me.
He was not mine. 

So today as I remember the home going of the child I never met;
Of the dreams not lived. . .
I will never forget. 
I give thanks for the lessons learned.
For the richness of my faith in Christ. 

Isaiah 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 I give thanks for the child I had for 17 years. 
Though I long for more.
Though I long for all the things that will never be.
I trust in the God who knows the child I so desperately prayed for. 

And I praise and thank God for the children left here on earth for us. 

And for the one about to be. . .
I will continue to praise my way through this time of deep loss and heartache. 

I sang this song shortly after our miscarriage. . .
and I sing it now. . .
With hands wide open.
"I will not offer anything that cost me nothing"
To serve him is my goal. . .
"Whatever's mine. . .He's given me. . It's not my own. .
It's His alone. . ."

I have placed before Him Nothing less than my very best.
And I have been called to sacrifice. .
And it is worthy of my Christ. . .
This has cost me everything.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

To Bring Honor

I Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, 
do it all for the glory of God.

Today I placed a flag to honor you at your grave.
There was evidence that others had been there. 
Others missing you, remembering, 

Being at the Harvest Market flooded my heart with memories.
The Parade bittersweet.
The rhythm of the cadence, the work of your hands.
The quad. . .your love. 
I thought I saw you a few times. 
It was strange.
My heart fluttered. 
Missing you is so hard. 

We head to the grave. I feel peace. 
I place the flag.
I want to honor your desire to serve our country.

I come home and there are flowers from a friend. 
She had been thinking about us.
Another beautiful demonstration of the hands and feet of Jesus. 
Of knowing our needs.

I miss you Elijah.
This is really, really hard. 
And I am really trying to live as best I can. 
I can not do this on my own. 
My heart hurts.
And as another Saturday turns in to Sunday morning. . .the morning my world was shaken,
I will open my hands to surrender.
I keep coming back to knowing that there is no other source for my strength.

Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn 
of my salvation, my stronghold.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

It's Been Two Months Since You Called Me Mom

It's been 2 months since you've called me mom.

2 months since I've heard you say good night.

2 months of living without you.

How can this be?

I have cried a thousand and more tears.
The ache permeates.
I stand in the doorway of your room
If I close my eyes I can still hear you, I can feel you bustling around.
I want this to be different.
I don't like this plan.
The pull of all the universe drives life forward.
But I still have one foot stuck. . .on July 27th. . .The last day you were here
and I don't ever want to take it out.

 I will look up to the heavens for strength.
I will celebrate the birth of our first grandchild.

I will sing Praises to our God in heaven. . .
But a part of me will always be broken and incomplete.

Gary said today, he struggles with wanting Elijah back; or going back in time,
because he feels like Elijah is where we want to be.
His struggle over.
My mind gets that.
Yet my heart cries out with all there is for it not to be.
I want another moment.
Another day. . .another year. . .
I want him here.
I long to find purpose in this.

As God works in us to heal and make us more like him, we need to yield.
He is making us into the people He wants us to be.
And His purposes are higher than ours.

Isaiah 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Michael Card, How Firm A Foundation

"Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand."

My foundation is firm. I know to whom I belong.
And as I continue this journey here, I will seek to share that foundation.   
We have had so many come along side us for this journey.
We are reminded everyday that we are not alone.
I still receive the sweetest of cards, planned visits and spontaneous chats.
Dinners are dropped off, mums on the front porch.
All treasures of this community reminding us that they too loved Elijah.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Making Cookies, And Trusting, One Step At A Time

These days are glorious. 
The color, the sun; all magnificent displays of God's handiwork.

I still long to feel. . .
I try. 
I sit on a rock overlooking the meadows.
I close my eyes and feel the warmth of the sun. 
But my heart still aches and longs for what it can not have.

I make cookies for the first time.

The memories of Elijah come like a flood.
The last day he was here; the day we had no idea would be his last.
He had come home all excited from a shooting match.
I had made cookies.
He stood in the kitchen and ate one after another. . .dipping them in milk.
Drinking a half gallon of milk as we talked.
I tell him to take a plate of cookies and sit down.
He was spilling crumbs everywhere.
I turn around and he had taken the WHOLE plate of cookies with him.
I smile at the memory.
I place dough onto the cookie sheet.

So much of my life with Elijah centered around food.
I cooked for him.
Drank coffee with him.
Planned meals around him. . .he was the busy one.
Our dinner conversations now stilled.
We don't seem to have the enthusiasm without him here.

Everything is just wrong. . .
But is it?
God sits on the throne.
He is the glorious One.

Psalm 18:32
It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect. 

And this is His will.
And all I need is Jesus.
And so to that Rock I am clinging.
As the world turns chaotic around me.
As I feel like I can't breathe some days. . .
As I miss with all my heart the child I birthed. . .
As we figure how to step into sweet peace with a fractured family.
I look to Jesus.
He is all I need.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

As Reality Sets In

As the fog lifts and my new reality sets in.
 I am confident only in knowing that my comfort is in the LORD.
I lack confidence in every other area.
I can not trust any emotion.
I made a trip to the Orthodontist with Ana.
I am reminded Elijah only had his braces off for a little over a month.
I head to Walmart.
First time in 2 months.
I don't like going there under normal circumstances.
There is nothing normal about me anymore.
I come undone as my youngest asks for Ramen Noodles.
Is there no easy way?

We head to cello lessons and the memories flood my mind as tears pour down
 my cheeks while our youngest has her lesson.

I read the Word to try and find comfort.
There is no rest.
There is no place where the memories do not rush forward.
I come home and look out into the back yard.
I survey the mountain and all that I have know for 20 years.
I see through to years of backyard birthday parties, sandbox roads and trucks.
 I see the structures that were recently put up so our man/boy could perfect his knife throwing skills.
His desire to be all he could for the United States Marine Corps..

And I don't know how to do this new family.
I don't know how to prepare food for one less.
I don't know how to move the sneakers still by the door.
Or what to do with the shoes full of glass shards. . .
I don't know what to do with the empty place at the dinner table.

I don't know what to do with my heart that feels like it's splitting into a million pieces.

So, I do the only thing I know.
I close my eyes.
I cry out to the maker of the universe.
He is big enough to handle all my emotions.
Even this.
He hears my cry.
Hot liquid trickles down my cheeks once more.
Oh, how many tears I have cried.

Psalm 18:6
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. 
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

I am longing to know that the struggle ends.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Honor of being the Ugly Step Mom. . .who came up with that term anyway?

Today she turns 26.

She came into my world in a different way. 
Her blue eyes and precious smile captivated me right away.
Her long blonde hair flowing in the breeze.
Her hand tucked snugly into mine.
Bedtime stories and afternoon walks.
These stole my heart. 

Along with the father who loved her so. 

Years of Field Hockey games, homework, playdates,
 road trips to see her in college; all done now.

That precious young child has grown into a beautiful woman.

All the girls.

 And then a wonderful young man stole her heart.

But never from her daddy.

And the 2 became one.

On the farm of her birth.

And in God's precious mercy while we mourn the loss of one called home;
we also celebrate the coming of new life.

So happy Birthday Chelsea Davis Brittain.
I may only hold the title of ugly step-mom;
but it's been an honor and one of my greatest joys.

Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Time Stood Still

For you time has stood still.
The rhythm of the day no more. 
The silence over powering,
I yearn to hear something from you
How can this be?
When will I wake?
How my heart and soul cry for you.
The ache so deep some days. 
Normal threatens to seep in.
Piercing pain rips through my heart.
It longs for what can not be.
I utter words to the Father.
Only He can heal this hurt.
It is the beat of His time that will bring peace.

Gary and Dobie mowed down acres of grass.
Time is of the essence.
We are desperately short for feed this winter.
It permeates all we do.
Feed is survival.
No feed means despair.
And so the race against time has begun.

There were rumors of snow on the mountain yesterday afternoon.
Our internet intermittent through much of the day.
It was a sweet gift.
Cedric played the guitar.
He has taught himself.
It is a beautiful sound.
Only  the beat of the drum would enhance the music. . .now silenced in this place.
I read to the girls while they sewed and crocheted.
A nice respite from the connections of the world.
I wish time could have stood still.

As this race for feed continues.
We will continue to trust in the One who provides.

Matthew 10:29
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care.

I don't know why this has been such a hard year.
I long to know why I have lost so much in 8 months.
I do know that God has walked right beside us in each loss.

Psalm 23:4
Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

I felt sad most of yesterday and I went to call my mom, twice.
I longed to hear her voice reassure me that all will be well.
But she like Lijy resides with the King of Kings.

God knows our needs and our aches.
A friend came over with soup for lunch and stayed and broke bread with us.
Another friend came later with cookies. She had just been thinking about us.
And another friend said, "Let's walk." And we did.
And as I gazed at the majesty of God's creation displayed through vivid colors,
I felt peace.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

I can not change the course of the events over the past 8 months of my life. 
I wish I could. 
My dad's sister went to be with  the LORD, 
my parents dog became ill and did not survive the night,
 the husband of my parents dear friends and close family friend suddenly went home to be with the LORD and my mom was called home. . .
all in 3 week's time. 
We experienced a severe drought and then devastating flooding throughout most of the summer, 
putting the farm into one of the most dire feed situations we have experienced. 
On July 6, our dear puppy Pemberly was struck by a car and did not survive. 
And then on July 28th,  unexpected visitors  came to tell us God had called our oldest son to be with him.
And for a moment time stood still.

2 Corinthians 4:8
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed,
 but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned;
 struck down, but not destroyed.

God is in everyone of these moments. 
He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
And we have hope-
In a risen LORD.
And this day I will say,
 It is well with my soul,
 because my hope is in the Lord. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Entering the Waters of Baptism

As I wake, the reminder of what we have lost washes over me. . .
My thoughts shift to God in Heaven. 
I continue to ask why. . . but I ask to not get stuck there. 
I ask for peace and strength to go throughout this day;
for opportunities to do His will. And to let this day not be about me but about Him.  

4 years ago yesterday, on a sunny, chilly afternoon. 
3 of our children entered the waters of baptism in the River. 

The River a symbol of the cleansing waters. . .
They emerged changed. Aligned with the One who gave His Life as a ransom for ours. 
The gift, given. 
All we need to do is receive. 
What joy filled my heart. 

Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

And now one of those 3 resides with the One who ransomed his life. 

Elijah's words spoken at the riverside. 
September 22, 2009
I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart when I was five or six. I don't really remember exactly how I felt, but I remember knowing for certain that this was an important event, and that it was wise to pay attention. I said a prayer with my mom, and ever since I have been working to build a relationship with God.  It hasn't been easy, especially in public school, but in the middle of 7th grade my mom decided to home school me for the rest of that year and the next. Being home schooled really gave me some time to reflect on how I had been acting in public school, and how I needed to act when I went back. The transition from home schooling back to public school this year has been a little difficult, but a friend of mine showed me a verse that is wonderful to say in your head when there is so much going on and you're overwhelmed. Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. "

And then a reminder of his Senior Testimony in June 2013

And there is joy in my heart that he is reigning on high.
The One who breathed life into him, now holds him close.
But our loss is immeasurable. 
The ache in my heart continually there.

It has been 8 weeks without our boy. 

Our handsome fun loving boy.
8 weeks where God has never left our side. 
8 weeks of treasured lessons learned. 

We can not do this on our own.
We know the prayers of those around us are upholding us.
We feel it. 
Together Gary and I will stand strong on the promises we know and we will share that with our children and with those around us. 
Be encouraged this day. 
There is a healer. . . his mercy deeper than the sea. . .
Let faith arise in this broken world. . .
We have a faithful God forever.

Psalm 91:1-2
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How Does My Heart Heal?

There is no warning. 
There is nothing that prepares you for the waves that come.
The waves of ache and pain. 

It's beautiful out. 
I long to feel the joy that such a day would bring. 
The warmth and gentle breeze.
Clothes drying; billowing on the line. 
A perfect day to bake and embrace this gorgeous creation in which God has us placed.

I drive to the cemetery.

I lay down on the sod that holds our son.
I look to the heavens. 
The sky that is so blue today, it should bring me peace. 
Instead my grief overwhelms me. . .
Oh God why?
Why my son?

But why not?
Why not him and more of my family?
I have said before that God will be with us when we face trials of many kinds. . .not if
We are not guaranteed anything except God's faithfulness to us through our life. 
And the sod does not hold our son.
He is with the King of Kings,
the place we long to go. 
And slowly my aching soul is filled. 
I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as I quiet myself before God. 

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, 
for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Friends came over tonight.
We had Chinese for the first time since Elijah left us.
He loved Chinese food.
Especially the leftovers.
These are the things that are hard.

Lord, I know you are good.
I know you are with us in everything.
But my heart hurts. 
This journey is so hard. 
And with all that I am, I want to serve you. 
And so once again, I lay down my life. 
I give everything I am to you. 
I will follow you until I breathe my last breath. 
And I will sing praise to you no matter how my heart breaks. 

I will shine the light, so that the whole world sees. 
I will continue to press through this time. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What does God Require of Us?

Slowly I start to write thank you notes. 
How do you begin to thank a community for this?

and this?

Words seem hard to come by.
There is a Memorial Fund, that should help students with a small piece of tuition,
for years to come.
There's a family account that has allowed us to; purchase a 2008 vehicle, pay down some overdue expenses do to the excessive flooding and lack of feed.
There are meals, cards, visits on the front and back porches.
All needing to be thanked.

What does God require of us?
How do we continue this journey on earth?
I struggle to know.
There seems to be this vicious pull to go back to routines.
I want to scream with all that is in me. .. that nothing is routine anymore.
There is one missing in my family.
The one who did not make it to his earthly home. .
But was called heavenward.
His bed empty at night.
Never to return.

So, what does God require of us?
Micah 6:8
He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; 
and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly,
and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Oh how I want to love mercy and walk humbly.
These are hard commands.
But God promises to walk with us.
Even in this, He is there.

So, each day I will put my faith in the LORD.
I will seek what He requires of me.
And I will walk this road with him.

It heals the sick 
Comforts the weak 
Breaks the proud 
Raises the meek 
In this life there are no guarantees... 

I am broken. . .I hurt. . .I am worn. . .
Yet, I am loved. 

I Corinthians 13
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
 It always protects, always trusts,
 always hopes, always perseveres.

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's Early Morning

I rise while it is still dark.
Coffee is made.
We are having pancakes for breakfast.
I have turned the fire on to take off the chill. 

Though it is much warmer than the previous nights. 

It was hard to get up this morning.
I prayed for a long time, seeking strength for what lies before me today. 
I prayed for Gary. 
These hours are so long. 
I prayed for the yield on this hay crop to be wildly abundant.
We are so short on feed. 

This picture was taken the last day Elijah and I worked together.
The day he told his dad, "Hey dad, you know the best way to slow down wrapping bales? Is to have your wife come to the barn." 
 I was trying to help. 
I can be a liability sometimes. 
But I am glad I went. 
All that time spent with my boy. . .
Little did I know there would only be 2 more days that he would reside on this earth. 

I had planned to write a blog post on how we put up our round bales. 
Now these pictures are all I have left of his final days here. 
But the memories. 
Oh how I treasure that day.
 We laughed. 
I was so slow.

We'd been having trouble with the round bale plastic - it keeps tearing. . .
So, Elijah would have to get off the tractor and come and pull it so I could tuck it back in and get started. 
I am a little short, so getting a good grip to pull that plastic was not happening on my watch. .. 
unless I went and got a stool. Which is the story of my life. 
Someone needs to add variety to these boys' lives. 
After each bale is wrapped, it is marked with the date. 
It was beautiful out that day. 
I was happy to be with my boys and I would take the time to write on the bales. .. 
more than just the date. 
This also slowed the process down.
Guys don't think like we woman. 
I wanted there to be a legacy on those bales. 
So when the deep of winter came and they pulled those bales out there would be a reminder of the glorious day in July when we all worked together. 

On each bale I left a legacy. 
One we now treasure with all our hearts. 

Our hay situation has been a challenge this year.
The rains came in abundance and flooded many of our fields. 
This left debris and silt scattered across acres of land, virtually making all the hay unusable; when or if we could get on to the soggy meadows. 
This happened repeatedly throughout the summer. 
So on July 25, 2013,
When the warmth of the sun permeated everything, 
I wrote those praises on bales.
I prayed over each bale.
Asking our father to somehow fix this feed situation. 
To give us wisdom if we should stay in farming. 
3 days later I still praised the same God 
with a broken heart as he called my boy home

It was a beautiful night last night. 
I don't know what our future is here. 
I don't know where the Lord is leading us. 
So much has changed. 
Yet, we will still praise him. 

Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
 Praise him with stambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord

And I am learning to say:  "It will be my joy,
your will, your way"
And I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt. . .there is NO life apart from you LORD.