Thursday, October 31, 2013

Waiting. . .How Well Do We Do It?

It is 6:00 a.m when we leave the house.
It is still dark.
I pray while we drive.
Trying to calm the churning. 

I stare at the wall behind the bed. 
It is a familiar wall.
They must be similar in each place. 
I hold Gary's hand. 

I close my eyes, I see the wall behind mom's bed. 
All the tubes and machines. 
I am holding her hand.
Much smaller than my farmers. 

A beautiful hand with long nails, that even as life slipped away, she had manicured. 
Always on her own. 
Very few professional manicures in her life. 

I linger in the memories for a moment. 
But they are still sharp.

Our Pastor arrives and we pray.
He shares:
Isaiah 26 
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: 
because he trusteth in thee.
 Trust ye in the Lord for ever: 
for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

I am struck by his quoting the verse from memory; in the King James.
This is a verse he knows. 
He has hidden in his heart. 
He reminds us, our peace is because we have stayed our minds on Christ. 
In this fast paced world of doing and doing. . . where do we put our thoughts?
Many spend time emptying themselves in quiet. 
What if you filled in that quiet with the Holy Spirit?
The One who gives perfect peace. 
The One who is our peace. 

Machines whir and they are ready to take Gary in;
in to surgery.
In to remove a cyst turned cancer.
But a straightforward tumor. 

I watch as they take him away. 
My stomach knots. 
I know better.
I need to surrender. . . all.
God has this all in his hands.
And the waiting begins.

Ephesians 2:14
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one 
and has destroyed the barrier, he has broken down every wall.

I head to the cafeteria with Peter.
We talk, it is good for me. 
I begin to feel peace. 
I steady.

I head back up stairs.
Gary's sister is there to spend the day.
Together we wait.

It is almost 6 hours before we hear anything. 
There is sweet grace in those hours. 
Visits from friends who work at the hospital, 
or just happened to have a meeting that day. 
It helps with the waiting.

The news is good.
They were able to remove the tumor.
They removed lymph nodes. 
Now we wait for the pathology report.

Gary is spending the night. 
It is 9:00 pm before I get home.
It is dark again. 
I wander through the house. 
I greet the kids still awake. 
There are dishes.
There is laundry, book work, food on the counter. 
There is life. 
The forward moving of time. 

I head to bed.
I wait upon the LORD as I rest my weary head. 

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; 
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

I will wait on the LORD.
I will walk in His presence as I mourn the loss of our son Elijah
as I wait for pathology reports.
As I live for Christ.
And as I thank those who continually hold us. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkins. . . They Can Leave You Undone. . .

Who knew? 
Who knew pumpkins would drive me to my knees. 

I tell my friend that once again I am not in the running for mother of the year. 
We did not grow pumpkins this year. 
Nor have I bought any. 
We were headed to get some last Thursday. 
Some apples too. 
But instead we got a call to go and welcome baby Lilah.
So, no pumpkins.
Just a wee little pumpkin seed to hold.

I move through the day making chicken and biscuits with 
mashed potatoes for more than 20 people.
It is my last night to host the Youth Bible Study.
And I wonder what am I doing? 
I have so much to get ready to be gone all day for Gary's surgery.
I am cranky at one of my kids. 
And I am brought up short by cries from the kids that Connie got them pumpkins.
She walks in and hands me flowers.
She wraps me in a hug.
It leaves me undone. 

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

He cares about all the details.
It doesn't feel that way, because the one detail I want him to change, can't.
But pumpkins. 
He sends.
Not only through Connie, who comes in the front door. 
But Chris and Kristine, 
They come in the back door.
And they have a pumpkin carved with Davis Farm.
They did not know about my lack of ability to qualify for mom of the year. 
They did not know of my struggle.
They just came

I don't know what your journey is.
I don't know how your relationship with the Living God is going. 
But I know that I am being held.
I don't like most of this journey
But I know that God goes before me. 
He cares.
And as I plead before the throne today for my farmer.
I know that God has this cancer.
He has the surgery. 
He will guide Seth Harlow's hand.
And He will be glorified. 
Enjoy your pumpkins.

They are blessings. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How Do You Really Get Warm?

I wake. 
The fog not so thick anymore.
It is cold.
Gary leaves at 3 and I miss his warmth. 
I quickly step out of the bedroom. 
It is warm.
So very warm. 
I am struck by the grace it took for me to be warm. 

The community that came alongside. 

Matthew 25:40
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these 
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me

The equipment, time and effort.

A gift I am so thankful for. 

And this shed is overflowing now. 
And so is the one at the barn.

And I am warm. 
I am thankful. 
I am thankful for the farmer that fills that boiler with wood; morning and night. 
I am thankful for a brother in law, that keeps our house warm while we run to Maine to see new life. 
I am thankful for the redhead that used to fill that boiler. 

I loved the woodsy smell he would have when he came in. 
Or the grin, when the heat from the boiler had singed his eyebrows and front of his hair. 
So much like his father. 

We would not have been able to get up any wood this year. 
Between the floods, still haying, doctors appointments, pending surgery and new life. 
There would not have been time. 
This morning when I walked out of the bedroom; 
I would still have been cold. 

It is a privilege. 
One I do not take lightly. 
I know the magnitude of the gift we have been given. 

I thank God for this earthly display of love and grace
Thank you God for this beautiful community where we know we are held. 
For pumpkins and mums at the pole where he met Jesus.
For mums at the graveside
For the basic necessity of heat. 
I am grateful. 
And I am warm.
Not only because of the heat, but because God fills that aching spot. 
He gathers us and He holds us when everything else is falling apart around us.
He is the quiet center. 
The calm in the midst of the raging storm.

 "And to know that the promise was, when everything fell, we'd be held."

I Thessalonians 5:18
give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Monday, October 28, 2013

3 Months of Not My Will, But Thine

It's been 3 months. 
3 months of not my will but thine

The seasons have turned.

Time . . .has marched on.
"We will mark time now with the date. 
Not a day of the week. 
Though Saturday evenings into the wee hours of Sunday
will forever be etched in my soul."

I do not like this journey any better after 3 months. 
It does not feel comfortable. 
It is abrasive and unsettling.

Isiah 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 long to make sense.

I fight against the normal.
I long to shed this skin of this trial. 
I want things to change.
I long to go back 3 months. . . and a day. 

I still can't believe it.
 Most of that time I have been in a fog.
Life moving on, while I am suspended in some sort of in between. 
I miss my son
I miss his lopsided smile.

I long to hear his voice.
I long to yell at him for playing x-box when he should be studying.
I long to be making plans to see him graduate from boot camp.
I yearn for that which I can not have.

I long to feel peace in life I once had.

There was a future.

Hopes and dreams.

But this rawness.
It leads me ever closer to God.
I want to be faithful.
But it is hard.
How do you resign yourself to a God, that allowed your son to die?
How do you praise and seek his will, when his will takes your son?
I want to scream.
It is NOT fair.
And it is hard.

Yet, He is a good God.
He is good because of who He is, not because of what He does.
This earth.
This is NOT our home.
This is NOT where we belong.

And Elijah is home.
While I do not like it;
while my heart yearns for things to be different.
It's not.
This is my path.
This IS the road God has chosen for me to walk.
And as I stay close to Him.
As I lean into His will, He reminds me to be:

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.”

He is Faithful God Forever.
And it is on that solid rock I will stand. 
Even when I don't feel like it. 
Even when 3 months feels like forever. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Even when Trusting is Hard

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

We are to be still. 
Even when our hearts are breaking.
Even when Saturday nights leave me undone. 
Re-living each moment. 
Not wanting the other kids to be out. 
I am stepping into fear.
And forgetting to trust.

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

He knows us. 
He created us. 
I look at the picture and there is a space. 
It catches me by surprise. 
Oh, how do we do this life and death dance?

Psalm 139:16
Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
all the days ordained for me were written in your 
book before one of them came to be.

I remind myself He has numbered our days. 

I quote Isaiah 41:10
over and over. 
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I hold new life.
I think of Elijah.

Our God is faithful. 
I may not like his plan. 
I may never understand. 
But He is Faithful. 
And so I once again, lay down my burden. 
I turn.
I rest in the One who holds the future. 

Be still my aching heart.
Let your spirit wash over me.
Your grace is enough.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness." 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Is Your Heart in a Delicate Balance Today?

 It is a delicate balance for my weary heart.
 To embrace the joy that comes with new life. .. 
yet still longing for the one called home too soon. . .

Oh be still my aching heart.
Quiet the desire to see my son.
Help me turn to praise;
hold at bay the yearning.
Turn it all to Jesus.
Take from me the hurt. 
I surrender it all. 
God your presence is all I need. 
Be still the desire to hear the drums. . .

Be still.

Psalm 46:10
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

This journey has to be deliberate.
The focus to turn; conscious.

Psalm 119:28
My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word.

And God brings new life to strengthen.
To bless.

Psalm 127:3
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

And so we embrace this new part of our journey.
Ana cleans Chelsea's already very clean house with abandon.
Mopping floors; twice.
We change sheets and bake.
The girls make welcome home signs.
Their big sister very equipped with creative materials.

My farmer and Clarissa and Cedric head back home.
There are chores to do.
There is surgery next week.
There is still hay to get in.
And the balance is so delicate.

But God has this balance.
We just need to trust. 
He will give us all we need.
The hay, the surgery, the new life, the loss. . .It's all His.
So, if you're hanging in the balance today.
Give it all to Him.
Be encouraged.
One moment at a time.

This is where the healing begins,
This is where the healing start,
When you come to where you're broken within,
The light meets the dark.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Juxtaposition of Life And Death, Welcome Lilah Rose

It is the middle of the day.
I am at the grocery store doing a full shopping for the first time.
My phone rings.
It is Adam.

It is 12:43 p.m.
I feel warm and peaceful inside.
The first time in almost 3 months.
There is new life on the way. 
They are at the hospital.
He will call when he knows more. 
Before I move on from the place I am, I receive another message from him. 
She is 9 cm dilated. 
It will not be long. 
That girl has done all the hard work before she got to the hospital. 

She had gone to work. And come home not feeling well. 
They head to the hospital. 
And Miss Lilah Rose was born 3 hours later.
Born of farming blood. 
Women who work hard.
Sacrifice much. 
Speak little. 
So foreign to my loud and whiny history. 
This has always intrigued me. 
These quiet strong men and women. 

And we head to Maine. 
We pack up and leave just like that. 
We don't question or think twice.
Grace fills the farm with folks who nod yes to extra chores.
Because they too know that time is precious. 
Because we have learned how fragile life is. 
We don't waste a moment. 
And by 8:00 p.m. we are holding new life. 

Psalm 139:13
For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

Surprisingly memories of my births do not rush forward.
Instead I wonder in awe at the child/woman I have to helped nurture and her husband.
I am over come by the beauty of that love and the grace of new life. 

The pains that she went through to bring life. 

New life.
Abundant life. 
Given at a price. 

I hold that sweet Lilah. I breathe in deep.
 Deep into my hurting soul. 

Deep into the places that are tender, with searing pain. 
 I look as our family picture has forever been altered

But as God takes; He also gives.
I watch as each of our earthly children hold their new niece. 

They all love babies. 
Every one.
None afraid to hold. 
All with wonder and awe. 
Seeking out tiny fingers, noticing opening eyes, cooing words of love to this new life. 
And I give thanks for this. 
For you are good Lord, so good. 

And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, 
and naked shall I return thither: 
the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

You are good and your Mercy is forever. 
Even when we have lost, even when we hurt, 
even when we want to turn because this pain is too hard to bear. 
You are still so good. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There is Great Grace, And There is Still Beauty

My kids found these teenagers a few years ago on youtube. 
They love listening to their harmonies. 

As a child my family would sing this hymn,gathered around the
 piano, with my Grandmother or Uncle playing the piano like there was no tomorrow. 
Oh how they would sing and harmonize. 
My cousins family sings like that.
 It's a beautiful thing. 
Those are years of memories forever etched into my being.

This song became near and dear to us as mom began her journey with cancer;
as she stepped ever heavenward. 
Oh how she would sing this song with certainty that,
 "Because I know He Holds the Future. . .And life is worth the living (even when you have cancer) Just Because He Lives."
He lived and died to buy my pardon. . .

 Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
 because He lives, all fear is gone. 

I can face tomorrow.
There are days that I don't want to. 
This journey is agonizing.
It is not right. 
And nothing in my being wants to make it right. 
But Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. 
And I know for Elijah, As death gave way to Victory,
He stood and saw those lights of Glory. 

God's handiwork has been so evident in the landscape and in the heavens lately.
I do not want to miss these gifts of beauty. 
Because even though there is unbearable pain;
there is still beauty. 

Psalm 8:3-5
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

hich you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels

    and crowned them with glory and honor.

And as the colorful display gives way to stark barrenness.
There is still beauty. 
It is hidden.
It will take a change of seasons.
But it is there. 

I walk again with a friend.
It's been a week. 
This walking helps. 
It distracts.
It gives focus.
I am grateful. 

So many instances of grace. 
And when I ponder that grace;
grace given at the expense of His Son.
I can barely breathe.
And there is still beauty.
Even in this mess. 

We continue to work this farm.
We continue to give Praise to God for his gift of grace.
We await our first grandchild. 
We await Gary's surgery.
We mourn the loss of our son.
And there is great beauty.

Isaiah 41:13
For I am the LORD your God
 who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
 Do not fear; I will help you.

There is great grace. . .

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

With Whom do I Wrestle?

My heart is wounded.
I am tired. 
This path is wrought with grief and pain.
The only way out is through. 

One needs to wrestle through the memories.
Through the future that will never be;
snatched away.

I've been robbed. 
Robbed of graduation from Marine Corps Boot Camp, 
robbed of the future of our son. 
And it hurts.
I can't change it. 
No matter the longing, it will never be. 

Yet my wounded heart is held in the palm 
of the hand of the One who created us. 
And as I wrestle each day with the reality of never hearing 
Elijah's voice again, never watching where his future leads. 
I am never, for a moment, outside the grasp of God. 
Psalm 139:10
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.

I wrestle with the events of the accident. 
Oh how a mama's heart hurts to think about her boy. 

Could God have stopped it?
Did He allow it?
Why me? 
I already have given my heart to Him. 
He didn't need to get my attention. 
He has had it for years.
What was the purpose in this agony?  

These things I will never know this side of eternity.  

I give thanks again for a community that is unrelenting in their love for us. 
For friends that show up when I am a tearful mess. 
For a cousin that listens.
For a friend that sheds tears with me as I pour out my heart to her. 
For God's Word. 
It is comforting.
It is honest.
And it is Truth for a hurting soul.

I can't sort this out. 
I can't make it make sense. 
I don't know who to wrestle with. 

The God of the universe called Elijah home. 
And all the pleading and praying is not going to change it. 

I want to know where to go from here. 
I want to see how to live. 

For now, that looks like one step in front of the other. 
Breathing in and out. 
Eyes lifted to the sky.
Hands open in surrender. 
It is thanking for the 17 years we did have.
For first steps, birthdays, learning to ride a bike, snuggles and reading, laughter and discussions. 
Graduation and dreams.
Hugs and a kiss before he left. 
All gifts given. 

We are awaiting the call from Chelsea sharing new life. 
That her precious Lilah has arrived. 

And that is hope. 

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and
 assurance about what we do not see.

We step out in hope. It is uncharted waters.
It is unknown.
It is a battle to strive to seek. 
But God will walk with us every step of the way. 
Even when we don't feel it.
Mostly when we don't feel it. 
He is there. 
And He is good. 
And He will restore our joy.
He will lead us through this Valley of the shadow of death.