Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hard Places

Today is our 31st wedding anniversary. We are going to do something tonight we have never, ever done on our anniversary before. My husband is officiating a funeral.

For a man who was murdered.

His 14 year old son has been charged and sits in an adult jail cell today.

We did not know the man. But we do know the son because he has been a part of our church family for several years. Z, as I shall call him, was in my children's quizzing group for two years and he was our top children's quizzer. I found him to be extremely bright with a sweet and quiet way about him. Oh, that doesn't mean he didn't like to pester the other kids - he liked to do that quite a bit. But he was always polite, always kind, and as obedient as any other boy.

We don't know what happened or if Z is really responsible. As expected, rumors abound and the media is having the time of their lives with the whole story. We are praying that the truth will prevail and that no matter what that truth is, that Z's spirit and heart will be protected. At the moment he is going to be tried as an adult but that may change as new details are coming out regarding possible abuse of this boy and his younger siblings at the hand of their father.

All I know is that when I look into this young boy's eyes on my television every evening, I see a scared and frightened little boy that is carrying a burden far greater than I could ever know or imagine. My husband and our youth pastor have visited him in jail several times in the last few days and they are struck by his physical fraility.

My life has seemed so full of hard places in the last few weeks. I took a blogging break because circumstances completely wiped words from my heart and mind. I knew that I needed to take time to focus on Someone else's words - not mine. I have spent more time than usual in the Word and soaked in the wisdom and love of my Jesus. The hard places are still there - but I have been comforted, loved, and fed as I spend time with Jesus. He is not annoyed nor does He tire of my tears. In fact, He cries with me.

The Creator of the universe cries with me. That thought nearly takes my breath away.

There are good things that come out of being in a hard place. God is faithful to do what He calls making beauty from ashes. One of those beauties is that you are given the opportunity to draw closer to Him. Other things that used to seem so important and necessary fall behind and priorities are re-organized. I find that I just want to be with Him.

Another beauty is that when you are in the hard place with other people you tend to bond tightly together with them. A sweetness develops as you pray together, spend time together, and take care of each other.

I was singing Jesus Loves Me to my little granddaughter last evening. The words to that simple song are so meaningful and deep to me right now. I hope Z remembers those words too. Jesus loves you Z - the Bible tells you so. Little ones to Him belong, we are weak but He is strong.

So, although this is not the way I would have chosen to spend my 31st wedding anniversary, thirty one years married to a man in ministry has taught me that we will always deal with the unexpected. It's okay. We aren't in much of a celebratory mood anyway. God is taking care of us.

And ministry or not, we will often have to experience hard places. As I walk through the journey of the days that are given to me, some will be full of happiness and others will be full of tears. Neither one lasts.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life. You are the greatest thing God has ever given me. I find it a deep privilege to walk our days together - rain or shine - I am with you all the way.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy First Birthday to our Sweet Tyler

Just popping in, in the middle of my blogging break, to celebrate our little man's first birthday. Enjoy!

One year ago today our lives were forever changed when we entered the incredible world of grandparenting. We became Poppa and Mia, our carefully considered grandpa and grandma names. (Well, I carefully considered them anyway!) We, the parents of four daughters, held a baby boy who was our own flesh and blood for the first time. And we began to get an inkling of an idea how precious it would be to love our very own grandson.

On that day, one year ago, I had no way of knowing that we would be celebrating our little man's first birthday on separate continents. I'm so glad we didn't know that then. But I'm sure I never would have believed it anyway.

Today I am not going to focus on the sadness of being apart. I am going to celebrate the life of a little boy who has brought us so much joy. A little boy who makes us act like total and complete fools. A little boy we would do anything in the world for. Because we love him so very much.

Because of our experience, I have met many missionary and military grandparents over the internet. We all ask the same haunting question. How can I make sure I am remembered? We lie awake at nights worrying about what we can do to make sure our grandchildren never forget who we are and how much we love them. So as I thought hard about what to give Tyler for his first birthday present - that was the question I had in my mind.

I didn't want to just buy him a toy. Anyone could give him a toy.


Since it had to be mailed, it had to fit nicely inside a 12 inch by 12 inch by 6 inch high box.

I didn't want to send money . . . money doesn't mean much when you are one year old.

And then God gave me an idea.

Tyler always loved when I read to him. He loves books. How about if I made him a very personal book telling him our love story? The love story we share even though we are so many miles apart.

So I went to work. I bought a small photo album used for scrapbooking. I found lots of colorful paper and stickers. And I started printing photographs of us. Our whole family got into it and it became something we all enjoyed. Everyday the progress of our book was measured.

Finally, it was finished and I wrapped it up and put it in that very expensive package I mailed to Peru. It had a sticker on it that told my daughter - DON'T OPEN UNTIL MAY 19!!!

So today this is what my sweet little boy will be holding in his hands:

You can click on each picture to make it larger.

I can't believe he was ever this small!

His mama has always called him a little monkey so naturally he has lots of monkeys to play with! So naturally I had to use some monkey stickers.

Sweet Miss Ava Claire and Tyler spent lots of time together before he left. They still enjoy visiting over skype.

The first half of the book told about all the things we did before he left for Peru. The second half of the book tells him all the fun things we will do together when he comes home!

I LOVE Disneyland - and we always told our kids that when they have kids WE get to take them on Disneyland. They can go anywhere else they want to! I never imagined I would have the privilege of taking TWO grandbabies the same year! I CANNOT wait for this day!

What you can't see in this picture because of the glare - is the birthday cake we made for him. We had our own little party for Tyler - and then I mailed him the party hats and horns in the Peru box so he can use them too.

Today we will skype with our sweet boy and he will laugh and wave and reach at us through the computer. We will gaze at him, and tears will fall, and more than anything in the world we will long to hold him and kiss him and just feel him. We will read him his book over the computer and tell him how very much we love him and how glad we are that God blessed our lives with him.

And we will go to bed tonight looking at the same moon that will be shining down on our sweet boy in Peru and thank God for thinking so much of us that He would give us such a gift.