Into the deep

I stepped into the raft, balancing myself and finding a place near the front, or so I thought. One by one, the other five fully helmeted, paddle clad people climbed in after me and our guide looked us over.

IMG_0545

“I bet we look like an unlikely crew,” I thought.
Three men, all strong and capable looking, and three women, each with slightly uncertain looks in our eyes.

Don’t get me wrong.
I was ridiculously excited about battling the white water rapids.
Daniel and I had each been here before, the US white water rafting olympic training ground, but never together, and we knew that one day we wanted to do this, together.

But even while the excitement was high, there was a teeny tiny question mark in a dusty corner of my mind.
Was I really strong enough to be an asset here?
And what if the boat flipped?

You know, the scenario they talk about in the warm up talk, describing what to do if you come up under the boat and need to get out fast?

But I smiled, wedged my foot under the support brace and gripped my paddle firmly. We would get this. DSC03138_2 I looked over, and could see the delight glittering from my hubby’s eyes.
He simply could not wait.

But the guide paused. He looked us over.
“Bummer,” I thought, “he looks too cautious. Maybe he will try to guide us over the calmest places.”
Which, in spite of my fears, isn’t what I really wanted.

“So what kind of ride do you want?” he had asked.
“Wild!” Daniel quickly answered. I nodded, mostly meaning it.
“Just shy of a concussion!” the tall guy shouted who had never before been over white water rapids.

He was big. Tall. The kind of man you would want on your side. A law student, we later learned, eager to fight crime and injury and make the world a better place… He wanted a challenge.

“Let’s switch the two of you on the middle row,” the guide decided after a trial strokes of our paddles. The lady with the big guy couldn’t figure out how to hold hers. She held a baseball grip instead of hand over the T. I cringed. She would need to know how to use the thing when we faced the real deal.

But in a few moments, and after a bit more instruction, we must have passed the test. The guide stood up and walked to where Daniel and I were, and we were suddenly in the back.

They call this “Big Water.”
It’s when they open all the pumps on this white water course. What before were placid rapids turn into fuming, foaming waters. You have to be at least 16 to even be allowed out on this, I later learned. IMG_0505 But there were lots of other boats out here, so it was all cool.
And our guide had never had a raft flip on Big Water.
So how bad could it really be?

“Three forward,” the guide commanded and our paddles dipped deep.
I worked to match my strokes to Daniel’s. Ahead were the first rapids, and they looked easy. The kind I would inner tube over. In a few moments, we shot over them, with just a small spray hitting us in the face, and suddenly we were looking at white foam and churning whirlpools.

The guide yelled something, but I couldn’t hear him over the roar,
even though he was right behind me.

Then we hit it.
I hadn’t seen it coming.
You couldn’t see it, the rock under the water, but it caught the raft.

All I knew was that the impact launched the guide suddenly off his seat and across my lap. In a split second the raft leaned heavily to the left, and catapulted us all out into the swirling mass.

I felt people under me, a leg kicking, water swirling in my face.

My first thought was, “Where are the kids?” and then remembered they were safe at home with their grandmother.

The water pulled and tore at me, pushing me down the rapids.
“Stay calm,” I told my panicking self as I fought to get a mouth full of air.
“Let your feet float, lay on your back, swim to the side,” they had instructed.

But the water kept crashing over my face. The lifejacket seemed waterlogged,
and I had to fight to keep my face up, out of the water.

I was alone.
I grabbed a glimpse of the guide behind us, trying to get back to the raft. I couldn’t see Daniel at all, but I wasn’t worried. He would be fine.
But where was Gretta?

My sister, the one who also has lost a brother to drowning. I caught a glimpse of her, and her strong boyfriend confidently holding onto her lifejacket.
I knew she was in good hands.

“Just get to the side,” I told myself.
But the water grabbed at me, trying to keep me in the current.
The concrete side, though just a few feet away, looked tantalizingly calm.

I pushed past the current and in a few moments threw my hands up onto the concrete and curled my fingers over the ledge, pulling myself out. Daniel swam up a few seconds later, and crawled out, smiling widely and his face mirroring the exhilaration he was feeling.

Within a few minutes, our guide had four of his six passengers back in his raft, and we waited for Gretta and Merlin. The raft hugged the side of the waterway, where the water played and lapped calmly at the concrete side. Our eyes scanned the bend, around which the water must have carried the two. I learned later that Merlin had pushed Gretta out and got swept further down the rapids. But soon they came, dripping and ready to climb back in. IMG_3139 I’ll admit. I was a bit traumatized.

We had just barely started down the course and the first real rapid got us.
Like really got us. And we were in for hours of this?

“Are you ok?” I asked Gretta. She nodded and smiled, but her eyes didn’t look quite so assuring.

The irony of it struck me.
Why would two sisters, whose only brother lost his life in white foaming waters, choose to go white water rafting?

Why on earth would we put ourselves in the position to have to fight the angry foaming water?

Our seating was all rearranged now, any careful placing was lost as waterlogged people had slopped back into the raft. Daniel and I were now at the front of the boat, not the back.

The raft shot out into the middle of the course, the calm open space where the rapids were left far behind. We laughed and chatted and found out how the unexpected dumping had hit each of us. And then our raft went up the long conveyor belt, and headed back to the beginning of the course, where we had been high and dry, just a few minutes before.

We were heading right back to the site of our dumping. Heart thumping, I followed the guide’s instructions to paddle towards the foam.

“Oh God!” the lawyer quivered.

The roar surrounded us; Daniel and I were first into it. And we shot past it, up over the raging white water and on to the next. We all cheered, we had conquered what had conquered us last time. It was thrilling.

Then they opened up the channel, where the boulders squeeze tight and the water pulls deep and sprays high. Here the adventurous kayakers hang out, dancing and flipping and playing in the powerful water. Our raft entered the channel and I felt us get pulled into the fast current. Ahead the waters merged and a wave three feet high reached for us.

“Paddle hard,” he yelled from the back and we dug in. We hit it a little to the side, and the raft dipped and leaned hard. My body collided with Daniel’s. “Lean LEFT!” the guide shouted. “Which left?!” the lawyer moaned.

But we all leaned hard and the raft righted itself. People standing by the side of the course cheered. Usually a rafting trip includes four trips through the rapids, two through the first stretch and two through the channel. But as we came around after the second time in channel, our guide said, “I think we have time for another.”

So we plunged down again, muscles straining and eyes glued to the water. Our guide directed us nose straight onto a rock and we spun around, our tail now the head.

“Keep spinning!” an onlooker yelled, smiling. This was all play to them, these techniques each with names and practiced many times. We shot down a deep fall backwards. I smiled, it was almost easier going backwards, not seeing how big it was till we were past it.

We sucked into a side eddy, and got lodged on a rock. A boat behind us flipped. Three staff members ran, throwing tow lines to the swimmers. We waited it out, ready to pull a swimmer in, if any came down the big rapids.

“I wouldn’t want to have to swim down that,” I thought as I watched the water leap down and churn angrily. But no swimmers appeared, and we pushed off the rock and in seconds were out on the calm water again.

“Hey, the channel is still open!” our guide shouted when the ride should have been over. “Wanna go?”  We all cheered and paddled toward it, the fourth and last time.

The water raged, and as we shot down into the biggest rapid, something in me snapped. I raged with it, I dug my paddle into the foam and I roared back. No one could hear my war cry over the noise, but it was a God moment for me.

I wasn’t gonna let the water, and all it has torn from me, be a conquering fear.
I would fight back, and win.
We ripped through the sticky spot and cheered.
I lifted my paddle toward heaven and roared triumphantly.

That last round was a second bonus.
The guide didn’t have to do it.
God didn’t have to do it.
But there was that moment, that war yell,
that “I will be with you in the deepest waters,” from God.

“Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.

My tears have been my food day and night,

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.”

(Pieces from Psalm 42)

IMG_4740

This morning is normal life again.
The children are sleeping in.
Daniel has gone off to work, our coffee mugs emptied.

I have a few muscles squeaking from the strain of yesterday’s adventure.
But would I turn around and do it again today, if I could? Of course.
Would I remember the terror of that first dumping, the struggle to keep my face above the water, the exhaustion after climbing out? Most certainly.

But today, God calls me to look my fears straight in the eye.

Not to dodge them.

Not to run from them.

Not to hide.

He is that kind guide, choosing to take me out of my comfort zone,
into the deepest rapids, to feel the foam on my face.

He gives me a paddle, a promise, and a strong husband on my side.
And he gives me a war cry, in that moment of terror.

He is there.
And He is proud. IMG_3140 (All the images in this post are of the Lempa River, where my brother left this world behind and entered Heaven’s gates. I will forever miss him, and his presence in my life now, but daily God uses his death to change who I am, and to see life through new eyes. And some day, the tears of now will be gems of gold, for the lessons we learned through them.)

Three Steps Back…

when we find ourselves relearning what we thought we already knew

I flipped the closet light on and scanned the high shelves. There it was, the new box, only now quite old, that sported a picture of a 30D Canon. I pulled it down, and dusted it off, this old friend of mine.

While it should have been exciting, it stung.
Pulling this old thing down actually hurt, because it reminded me of what I had lost.
I was having to downgrade, step back and face my loss, my mistake.

_J4P8675

You see in January we took a sudden trip to Honduras, and of course every time we visit my brother’s grave on that wild, windblown hill in Carrizal, I want to document it for my mother who has not been back to her only son’s grave since his burial seven years ago. Some day I hope she will have the opportunity to sit there again herself, but in the mean time, I always make a point of capturing her grandkids crawling all over the river rock head stone (yes, we let them crawl on it- Isaac LOVED kids, and he would be delighted to know his grave is a place we let them play) or place bouquets of wildflowers gathered with childish hands.

Instead of renting a truck to make our trip back those bumpy roads, we chose to save a bit of money and take the bus.
“Plus” I told myself, “I want the kids to get to taste real life down here…”

So we took the three kids, and a backpack and my shoulder bag and piled onto the bus.
Daniel and I both have bussed extensively, and we have traveled Central America a LOT. We know how to do it, we know to watch our bags. We knew that adding three kids into the picture would get a bit hairy with busy bus stops, long waits, nasty bathrooms.
And it did.

Either during the long wait, or on the cramped bus ride, somewhere it happened.
I have revisited every possible moment, but at some point,
my SLR either fell out or was slipped from my very carefully watched shoulder bag.
Gone.

I am not an overly sentimental person.

In fact, years ago, I would have said I was not sentimental at all.
But Daniel had surprised me with this camera, a significant upgrade, for my birthday.
It was a camera for a much more qualified photographer than me, someone who still grapples with aperture and ISO. And pictures are one thing that I have learned to treasure. Moments and memories, and people forever gone from my life make pictures so much more important to me. But this camera represented what I hoped to become,
and motivated me to try harder, to reach for skills I only dreamed of.

_J4P0123

Six months had passed since I took a picture.
But yesterday I blew the dust off and turned it on.
And I snapped. It felt good. I played with the settings and snapped again.
Such a happy feeling.
A few more images and then the age old “Error 99” popped up on the screen.

I had forgotten.
This camera and lens have issues.

Just like me.

I’ve got issues that I forget about. And they pop up in the most unexpected places.
And at the most inconvenient times.

This last year, I’ve found myself revisiting emotions and places in my heart that I thought were chapters of the past. Stuff I thought I had faced and processed long ago suddenly feel fresh and raw. When I thought I had taken five steps forward, suddenly I had to acknowledge it, I had slid three steps back. Things I had worked so hard for, now I was grappling to grasp again. Facing forgiveness and choosing things I thought had become part of the fabric of my being is just plain rough.
And I hated it. I hated what I was feeling. I hated who I was.

One evening last week I looked up into Daniel’s face and said it.

Words I hadn’t even known were there, but were burning a hole in my heart none the less.

“Do you think God is angry with me?”
He replied so fast it shocked me.
“Of course not.”

I just stared at him.
I know Daniel loves me, through my ugliest moments, through the thick and the thin.
But how could he be so sure?
How can God NOT be angry with me when I feel so disappointed with myself?
How can it be ok to take three steps back,
to have to learn to use an outdated and problematic camera again,
to face heart turmoil ages old?

Because He knows the plans He has for me.
They are plans for peace, to prosper me.
To give me hope and confidence in the future.
Because He sees the bigger picture.

Years ago, on a rare family vacation, we were playing in the pool in the hot California sun, and while I loved to splash and play on the steps, the rest of the pool was deep and scary. I’d venture out for a second, depending heavily on my orange arm floaties, but a few kicks beyond the steps and I’d be turning around and frantically heading back into the shallows.
Back to where I felt safe.

But my dad scooped me up with a twinkle in his eye, and walked to the other end of the pool; to the deep. There was not a thing in the world I could do but scream at the top of my lungs, both in delight and terror, as he pitched me into the middle of that deep, deep end.

For all I cared, it was 100 feet deep, and I flailed and kicked and somehow, amazingly enough,
I reached the side.
Alive.

At the moment it seemed like a miracle that I survived, but I knew even then, in my five year old mind, that he was watching. He was ready to dive in the moment I needed him. But he loved me enough to know I needed to be tossed out into the middle, beyond any safety, where there was nothing to hold onto. Real love doesn’t always keep us safe; sometimes it takes us to the deepest element of terror. Because there we learn how much stronger His arms are than we ever imagined.
We learn He is ALWAYS there.
That He ALWAYS keeps His promises.

That feeling of terror still sweeps over me when I jump in deep, even though I can swim.
When I can’t feel the bottom of the pool and all is so, so quiet.
It’s there, the terror, the fear. But He is there too, and that makes it all ok.

It doesn’t make it safe, but life isn’t about being safe. It’s about walking with God.
It takes my breath away, His giving us this eternal treasure in simple jars of clay.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed.
Perplexed and confused at times, but never to the point of absolute despair.
We go through shattering times, but we are never truly forsaken, crushed but not destroyed.
It is in these times that we discover that we carry in our body the death of Jesus, so that His life may also come out of our temporal, human bodies…

Because of this, we don’t loose heart.

Our bodies, and all we feel, are wasting away, but at the same time, our soul is being renewed, refreshed, made alive, day by day. And when we see it like it really is, we understand that these are simply momentary groanings, preparing us for the eternal glories that cannot even compare to anything we have ever known down here. It’s all about seeing the eternal more clearly than that earthly…

(2 Corinthians 4:7-11, 16-18 paraphrased)

Somehow, this amazing God of ours loves us in the journey. He could have skipped this whole thing of life, and just taken us straight from salvation to eternity. But He sees something priceless about the process.

And sometimes that means letting Him take me back, to face old things, to relearn,
to accept my need afresh.

So today I’m taking a deep breath and turning that camera back on.
There are moments to capture. There are lessons to learn.
And I’m learning that’s ok. God loves me here, in my need. It’s not about my need, really.
My life is about Him.
And sometimes we learn best who God is when we see what He can do with brokenness.
When we see what He can do with us. After all, this is His name, our Redeemer.

“Let the words that I speak, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable and bring you glory today,
Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Nine years…

11008475_10205259892088851_7332254244294079707_n

I opened my eyes and he whispered, “Happy Anniversary!”
My sleepy eyes looked into his and we smiled. The brown curly headed angel sleeping between us sighed in her sleep, and he gazed at her proudly… There is something so amazing about watching the man you love father your children.

046O0555

Nine whole years… Years of more joy than I could imagine.
Even in seasons of such deep loss that I could hardly take a breath, he was always there, holding me.

046O0606

Daniel has been such a tower of strength and stability.
A calm when life felt so uncertain. A joy when tears were my only language.
Daniel has been such a safe, safe place. He has illustrated so well who God is to me.
Daniel, you have been God’s hands and feet to me.

046O0362

Marriage gets messy.
Living with someone day to day has a way of pulling out of you those hidden issues you wanted to pretend weren’t there.

Being married forced me to see how selfish a creature I was. I am.
But this man has taken me, loved me, forgiven me, and carried me away in his passion for life, and for God.
Having kids, sharing a bathroom, a bed, a life…
It takes sacrifice. It takes grace. It takes humility.

And Daniel has done it well.

046O0755

He has many demands resting on his shoulders. But he takes time to grab those little moments with the children, to make them laugh, to kick a soccer ball around. To be more than a father, he is establishing a relationship with them. He is a Daddy.

046O0773

046O0524

Here is to many more years together.
More camping trips, and beach trips.
To dates to Lowes and family suppers at Domingo’s.
To comfortable silence as we sip coffee together, to laughing at our crazy kiddos,
to perhaps adding a few more rambunctious ones to the bunch.
And of course, to endless love.

Daniel, You are my dream come true.

And as always, special thanks to grettagraphy.com for her skill and ability
to catch those little moments in life that are really the big ones.

Joy, she wears it well…

Goblets sparkled and candles flickered.
One hundred and twenty or more widows were escorted to their beautifully decorated places at the tables.
The meal, so carefully planned and printed on the menu was served by formally dressed young people, feeling a bit starched but smiling. Carefully made corsages were pinned on their blouses, and each one was welcomed warmly.
It was our annual widow’s luncheon, and each year the group swells a bit from the previous one.

They come dressed in their best, leaning on canes or some walking with a limp.
I always love watching how well they dress, how carefully their hair is curled, their make up applied.
The colors and styles tell how much they really care. They are women of dignity, these widows.
They have seen so much, loved so much, and lost so much.
And now here they are, for a few hours of our time; listening.
It is our turn to give back.
We serve them food. We have a speaker, one who walks in their shoes. We sing.
We want them to know how much we care, how much we appreciate them.

I’m always blown away at the thought that what brings this unique group of women together is loss.
Each has a husband buried, each has wept late midnight hours, and sleeps alone.
Most have given life, reared children and guided children into adulthood.
But here they are today, leaning hard on the arm of one our young people, being helped to their seat.
They are alone.

Of course I am biased.
My mother sits in this crowd each year,
but only after she has gone around and spoken individually with as many as she can reach.
She is beautiful, her hair has silvered with time.
She looks regal, because she is. I think she is the most beautiful widow in the crowd.
I look up from where my husband and sisters and I are singing, and she nods and smiles.
It’s a look that says, “You are doing wonderful. You sound great. I am proud of you.”
And of course, afterwards, she finds her way to my side and says all those words.
She has always been my cheerleader.
Always.

IMG_7685

Life hasn’t been fair to her.
As she raised six lively children with the man she loved, and then lost.
And then as her life spiraled out of control and she found herself on the strangest journey ever.
A 15 passenger van loaded with all her earthly belongings and her six children headed to a land where she knew no one, and a language spoken that she didn’t understand. Then being caught, thrown in prison, the miraculous expunction and relocating to the east coast, far from Texas and the land she was raised in. And then the staggering and sudden loss of her only son.
How does one keep breathing after so much trauma?
Keep smiling? Keep living?

It is hard to see time wear at her.
To see her fingers touched with arthritis. To see her go to work to pay the bills when I wish she could just stay home and cook meals like she loves to do… I wish Dad were here to care for her.
To delight in his lovely little wife. To see how well he had chosen.
To grow old with her.

But God has been good. He has been gentle. And she has been faithful.
He asked, and she followed. He took, and she said, “Blessed be his name.”

Nineteen years ago yesterday, my Dad entered eternity, and my mother began this journey of widowhood.
She smiles. She cries too, at times.

But Joy is her name, and she wears it well.

IMG_7684

_______

If my mom has blessed you in your loss, or carried you in a special way;
feel free to join me in blessing her by leaving a comment below.

“Don’t be afraid of your hard…”

The light above the stove glowed warm, and pots clanked as we cooked together, this sister and I.
“Is Kara still alive?” she asked quietly,
about a woman who neither of us have met, yet whose story has become very dear to us.
I nodded, “But it won’t be long…” My words trailed off.
We hate this thing of dying, all of humanity does.
We fight for life with all we have. Life is so, so, dear.
It is all we know. Or we think so…

1979311_801324419890348_2789115579726099588_o

She has been shaped by death, this little sister of mine.
Grew up with just flashes of memories of Daddy, the kind man in scrubs who would throw her high in the air, and alway be there to catch her. He would be there for us, making Sunday lunch when we returned from church, since he had been on call and couldn’t drive far from work to church.
He was there. Good, loving and kind.

Except then he wasn’t.
My childhood memories take a drastic turn to cancer treatments and beeping monitors and then kind hospice nurses training me how to flush his feeding line. I helped keep him alive a little longer, but he wasted away before my eyes. His strong arms that were always there to catch me shrunk to just bones and skin hanging.
His eyes got that distinct “deer in headlights” look that only the dying carry.

I was naughty, even at his bedside.
I remember I had been outside playing, but it was my turn to come in and give Mom a few minutes break.
It was just to sit by his side and read some verses of comfort, but I was in dress up clothes and the game outside went on without me. I pouted and read hurriedly.
He looked over at me and said something about reading cheerfully.
I tried, then.

I wish I had understood more fully what was really happening.
Does a child ever really understand death when it happens daily in front of their eyes, to their Daddy?

This morning Kara’s four beautiful children woke up for the first time knowing that Mommy was not there anymore.
Yesterday her long struggle with cancer ended, and she opened her eyes in heaven’s glory.
It is such a mixture of emotions, this joy for her, and the ache for her family…

The road ahead is not easy. I wish I could spare them the years of growing up with just memories. A child craves the physical presence of their biological parents. But my daddy didn’t choose to leave. And Kara wished to stay and watch these four grow into beautiful adults who would love God more than anything.

Last week I was at a family reunion and Daniel and I found ourselves in a conversation with a couple who lost their only son to cerebral malaria.
On the mission field. Far from family. It is shattering.
But in the same breath, we smile. Our eyes glitter with the reality of Heaven pressed deep into our core.
We dream. We wonder. “Do you think in Heaven they…” We are changed.
Eternity becomes the new reality. It is where God dwells with us.

“He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said,
“Behold, I am making all things new.”
-Revelation 22:3-5

Yes, we have lost. Death has changed forever who we are. And really, it is a priceless thing.
You see, when the dagger of death pierces our life, we never recover. In an instant, our lives are forever changed.
This rushed and crazy life down here slows and looses its importance as we see through new eyes.
Eternity is just as close as Kara was yesterday, here in our arms and hearts.
And suddenly, we realize that life is more than we knew.
That eternity is looking over our shoulder, and it is to be embraced.
That here, in our tears and shattering, God IS.

I stood there, in that room bustling with people, tears persistently sliding down my cheeks.
I felt a tad ashamed. After all, I hardly knew their son.
It seems strange to feel so passionately the loss of a stranger.
But really, in loss, none of us are strangers.
His mother and I both stood there, hot tears dripping off our chins, together.

We cringe from this place of our shattering, and long to be whole again.
But it is here, in our brokenness, we find we are not enough.
And it is only here that there is room for God to fill us, to truly carry us.
Our strength comes in being channels of His presence, not in being enough.
We are strongest when we learn how to weep with those who weep.
For here it is not our strength at all,
but His.

Today my sister and I, and you and each of us have questions bigger than our answers.
But here in the not knowing, in the missing and the journey, Kara’s words remind us of reality:

“Hard and suffering is not the absence of God’s goodness…
Don’t be afraid of your hard.
Let it encourage you to know God’s goodness even more in your life.
And look for it. ‘Cause it’s there.”
-Kara Tippets

10608797_798600923496031_7409981814214383357_o

Photos from Kara’s Facebook page, Mundane Faithfulness

You can read more about her story by purchasing her book, The Hardest Peace.

The best is yet to come…

It was late as we drove home last night. Again. We have been burning the late candle constantly this past while. Youth Bible School, a birthday party, a few other projects thrown in, and while it’s been really, really good,
it gets to you after a while.

I blinked into the darkness, and told Daniel, “I feel so… exhausted.”
“The kind that a night of sleep won’t fix?” he asked.
He knew the answer already. I nodded.

I want to hit these anniversaries with a special strength, and preparedness that will help carry me through.
But today hit me totally off guard.
Seven years ago today, Isaac slipped into the depths of the Lempa River and emerged on the shores of Heaven.
We want to think that as years pass, we will become more able to face the pain, the rawness, the ache.
And the edge does fade, some. But there are times when it is so raw and fresh,
it knocks the breath out of you and leaves you gasping.

IMG_6386

This morning we taste tears again, and miss that laugh all his, and wish our kids could grow up crawling all over him… He loved kids so, so much. But through blurry eyes, I find true rest in looking to the Author of this story, the One who sees all, and does everything well. Looking here, at the pain and loss, it is confusing.

But when I look deep into the Creator, I find rest for my weariness, and peace for this aching heart…

2008-03-16 at 07-29-50

“Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

‘Cause You are, You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won’t grow weary

You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on the wings
Like eagles

From everlasting to everlasting
God, You are everlasting”

-Chris Tomlin

2008-03-18 at 07-07-11

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

Through the tears, yet there is peace. We are only in the middle of this story. The best is yet to come.
And again, I am grateful.

How much do I love you? Let me count the ways…

My Weston Boy…

046O8357

Seven years ago, you changed my life forever.

IMG_9262_2

 I never dreamed how much a child would change me, day by day.
That my child would become my teacher.
To notice, to listen, to feel more deeply than I ever had before. IMG_2623.JPG

God knew that in my days of deepest grief, that your eyes would glitter the joy of heaven.
I always thought that babies were held to be comforted,
but I discovered that I was the one comforted when I cradled you…

IMG_3516

I see flashes Isaac in your expressions, and it is such a gift and joy to me.
Heaven is a normal conversation around here,
and I wonder how God will use all the loss in your life to reach others…

_J4P6997_2

Your fresh perspective, the moments you stop and notice the way the moss grows on the tree,
the sunlight floats down through the trees, reminds me to slow down and enjoy these little moments.

IMG_5739

You make me laugh.
Again and again.

046O8269

You stretch me, make me need new answers from God, find grace in new places, and let God grow me even when it hurts.
But mostly, you are my sunbeam and my Energizer Bunny, never, ever running out of steam.
You live life 100%, nothing held back.
And I love you.

The world is ahead of you, buddy. God has big plans, and they start today.
Even in the little things, He has a purpose.

It’s simple:

Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.
He will never ask you to do anything that He won’t be right there, just waiting to help you.
046O8234

Happy birthday, my sweet Weston boy. I love you with all my heart,
Mommy