Probably one of the hardest things pastor's wives face is watching those in our churches face loss. I would guess if you've spent any time in ministry, you've experienced the heart rending feeling of standing in a hospital room/funeral home/family home/etc. seeing someone you love and shepherd in a place of total vulnerability. As I write, memories flood my mind...sitting with a bereaved couple looking at baby names that won't be used, crying with another couple as we watch their 2 lb twins struggle for life, trying to help a friend make sense of the anger he experiences over losing his mom to cancer, rushing to the emergency room to feed and comfort children so their mom can make sure their dad is getting the care he needs.
A good friend of mine has had a month of dealing with hell (quite literally). He's a pk who works in the wide open mission field known as the work force. Recently, one of his co-workers lost a 9 month old granddaughter to cancer. His words touched me so deeply, I asked if I could share them with you. He agreed. I'll warn you ahead of time...it's long, but well worth the time to read.
I'm not sure why February has been this way, but it has. What the month has lacked in dreary weather it has made up for in sadness. First it was the lost of a coworker and then, this week, the 9 month old granddaughter of a fellow co-worker, past away after a sudden discovery of cancer, an attempted surgery and many attempts to keep her, Alli, alive. Babies die every day. This fact doesn't make it any easier to deal with but when we have the advantage of space and distance and we can shield ourselves from the pain.
On Thursday night Konnie and I went to visit the family at 'the viewing'. Upon entering the building we immediately saw a video playing, showing slides of little Alli that had been taken in her short 9 months of life. There were flowers, cookies and music playing. It was hard not to tear up even though I had never met little Alli in person. I could feel that space and distance closing in. We then started reading some poems that family members, including the father, had written for Alli. They were all very moving and brought even more tears to our eyes.
Once my friend, Alli's grandpa, came in we hugged and visited with them for a little while. Then we were taken into the room where the body was; where the baby was. This is when the distanced closed and the space around us seemed so close and tight that breathing became difficult. I noticed the photos, the memorabilia and more flowers that were lovingly placed in the small room. There was a bassinet with pillows, blankets and stuffed animals. The bassinet was empty in regards to a body though. At first I was somewhat thankful because I really have a hard time with the death of children. That fact doesn't make me special, it simply makes me human. But as I turned to the right, there was a couch with some people on there. And there they were. The mom was holding what almost looked to be a doll, but it wasn't a doll... it was Alli. She was stroking the babies hair and smiling at her. She then realized people were coming in and said, 'time to lay you down sweetie... I love you so much'. She smiled, she wept... she loved. She loved her little girl.
Writing about this doesn't make any of it easier. It wasn't my child; I had never even met her. But the overwhelming sadness I felt at that moment was undeniable. And it wasn't just me. My sweet wife began crying and I know she was thinking back to when our little Kaden was born and in intensive care for the first week of his life. How close we came to being where this family was.... the space we had and the distance we shared closed.
I spoke to my friend, again, of why I had to believe what i believe about God. I can't believe that this life has no meaning and that there is nothing beyond this life that isn't wonderful. Because if there is no reason that a 9 month old little girl gets cancer and dies, then I'm not sure I can be on board with that sort of cold, brutal universe. When my cousin's 2 year old died in a drowning accident I wrote a blog about Jesus saying 'Let the little children come to me'. It's with a heavy heart that I really need to hear Jesus say 'Let Geoffrey come to me'. I think we all need to hear him say that; to hear our name come from his mouth. I know I hope the family of Alli can hear Jesus calling them to Him. He's ready to hold them. When there is distance and space between you and God you can hide from emotion; you can hide from pain. But you also miss the comfort and love that only He can offer. We need to close the space and distance sometimes because we need to feel. We need to feel hope. We need to feel love. Because we surely feel the pain don't we?
There's nothing more powerful than when these little angels are born. There's nothing more painful than when these little angels die. "Jesus, you mind if we climb on your lap for just a bit and be held?" 'Come to me......'
Thoughts? Anyone, anyone...
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
My husband posted a great blog on our personal site today. It affected me enough that I've got to paste it here as well. Let me say, I spent most of my early years begging God to save me from the horror of having boys. I prayed many a prayer and dreamt many a dream which involved pink cribs and lots of lace, ruffles and bows. God has a great sense of humor. I still remember the stunned shock I felt when we discovered Brendon was a boy. I mean, I knew it was a possibility, but come on! Nearly 10 years later, I thank God most days for giving me two boys. They have changed, softened and shaped me...hopefully, for the better. Apparently, their dad agrees with me. Here's the post address.
What has God taught you through your children? How have your "mom" experiences stacked up in light of your pre-conceived (how's that for a nice pun?) notions of parenting?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I realized today I haven't bought my sweetheart (or my children) anything yet! Creative juices, PLEASE start flowing! I try not to get too much candy for the boys...for pity's sake, we still have Christmas candy in the pantry. In a great stroke of genius, I've bought stuffed animals for the boys the past several years. The problem with that is we are now in danger of moving furniture out to better house the mountains of stuffed animals in the boys' rooms. Maybe I'll opt for Nerf guns? It just seems wrong to celebrate love by buying toys that will start the "Die, infidel!" chants around our house. Of course, that IS how the boys and their dad show their love most, so maybe...
My sweetheart and I generally celebrate Valentine's Day on a different day so we don't have to fight the crowds at restaurants and such. This year we're celebrating on Friday night and the boys are going to stay overnight with Auntie. Gotta love those serious date nights!
Anybody have any great ideas to pass on? What are some of your best gifts and/or activity ideas from past Valentine's Days (at least the ones I WANT to hear about...censor, please).
Friday, February 6, 2009
God has been working in my life in many, many ways the past few months. In October, Michael and I started a Bible reading program that is taking us once through the Old Testament and twice through the New Testament in a year. We've also adjusted our reading schedules so they coincide and we're able to chat about what we're reading and learning (rather, Michael changed his reading schedule from 5 AM when he's awake to 9 PM when I'm awake). Following a planned schedule and then talking through it as well as journalling has made me much more aware of people around me and has opened my eyes to opportunities I believe have always been there, but I missed before. The largest change is that all of the sudden non-Christian parents of children who go to school with the boys are practically begging me for one on one time. Many of these ladies aren't ones I would naturally seek out. I've had to try to acquire a taste for sushi (which really isn't going so well), coffee (hot chocolate or tea are good substitutes) and tennis (I'm still horrid at it, but Ian's getting better). My "top 10" list of people I'm trying to influence for Christ has gone from 4 to over 10 in a few short months. I find my heart breaking for people who think, vote, act and spend money MUCH differently than I do. So far, none have come running to me breathlessly asking to pray the sinner's prayer; however, my view and my world are changing. Looking back, God has often used me as a seed planter. I've seen many on my top 10 lists eventually come to know Christ, though unfortunately, it is rare for me to be there when it happens. Still, I know Christ has gifted me specifically to pray for and love on people who are far from Him. I pray daily that He'll give me the words I need and help me see opportunities for what they are. In the meantime, he's softening me--breaking and changing me.
Tag, you're it! How is Christ changing you these days? How are you being stretched?