Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Cox Brothers

Coleman and Spencer (ages 11 & 9) are friends of ours from our church Stony Point in Richmond. They've been sick since Thanksgiving of last year with some sort of illness that a mountain of doctors are having a hard time definitively diagnosing. They know it is some sort of toxic mold illness, but they're still fighting a long, hard battle to find the right treatment. Catch up on what they've been through by reading Jeff and Mel's blog (their parents), and if you feel inclined, keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Year of the Visitor: Part Six

It's been about a month since our last visitor, but this weekend we were excited to continue with the sixth occurrence of visitors in our home over the past 6 months. Check out installments 1, 2, 3, and 4 if you'd like to catch up.

This amazing nature of our visitors didn't end with this installment. Ralph and Sylvia Hill of Georgia were strangers to us on Thursday, but they are now life-long friends. Unfortunately they were only with us for a mere 36 hours, but it was time enough for us to fall in love with them and want to adopt them and add another set of grandparents to our family tree.

They were in Brussels for the month of January, (on the same training trip James and I attended in 2007) and are now traveling through some parts of Scotland, meeting with people, and doing some research to find out more about what the next season of their life might look like. They're planning on moving to Scotland later in the year and will be working through the same organization that we are (Mission to the World).

The Hill's are an incredible couple. They are loving, thoughtful, encouraging, real, and just all around great people. The only way I know how to really get across their awesomeness is to say that they reflect God's love in an incredibly vivid way.

We were sad to see them, go but we are sure we'll see them again at some point. What a treat it was getting to know them!

This is nice.

Sitting in the conservatory (a room made up of 95% glass), feeling the bright sun on my face and soaking in how warm it's making the room (so I can pretend it's actually this warm outside and I don't live in a place where summer doesn't exist), listening to someone playing the bagpipes at a wedding down the street, remembering our wedding (we had a bagpiper pipe us in and out of the church...almost FIVE years ago!), procrastinating the long to-do list for the moment, and enjoying a sense of peace.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A dreaded day redeemed.

(For some background on the topic of this post, you can read this, this, and this, if you are so inclined.)

As time passes, the intensity of the grief from a miscarriage subsides, but the feeling and knowledge of the loss of your child never goes away. It's inevitable, and I know every other mother or father who has lost a child, due to miscarriage or any other tragedy, can verify this. I realize it's hard for people who have not experienced this to understand, and I don't expect them to, but it is a very difficult thing to go through.

I've been reading "A Grief Observed" by C.S. Lewis. It's the journal he kept after the loss of his wife. Lewis has an incredible way of putting into words feelings and experiences.

Here, he explains so eloquently the process of grief:
"Sorrow turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history...There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I've already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench. But it isn't. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat."

While I don't question God's actions in a way that judges them to be right or wrong, (as if a slug could even begin to understand why humans do what they do, how could I expect to understand why God, the creator of the universe, does the things he does) I do wonder why he allows certain things to happen and question in a respectful way. He graciously reveals aspects of Himself to us, but I don't believe that we have the capacity, in this life, to experience the full glory and mind of God.

Here, Lewis does an amazing job of putting into words the question we hear so often of, "Why would a good God permit suffering."
"The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed-might grow tired of his vile sport-might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren't."

For the past 6 months I've been dreading yesterday: February 12th. The date has been rolling around in my head, wishing I could somehow just sleep through the day entirely. February 12th was my due date. The possible (though unlikely, I realize, since most people don't deliver on their due date) birthday of our first child.

I had visions of it being a horrible day when nothing else would matter and I'd be on the verge of tears all day. I woke up yesterday, and I had a thought, I know it was placed in my head by my loving and gracious Heavenly Father, because it's not something I would come up with by myself.

I thought, "Why can't today be a celebration?" Most birthdays are days of parties and fun and thankfulness for a person's life. Our child was alive, though for a short time, but he (or she) was still a part of our lives, and for that I am thankful. I'm also thankful for the fact that I know he is in heaven enjoying nothing but pure joy. I'm thankful that he never has to experience any pain or heartache that comes with living life on this earth. I'm thankful for the assured hope we have that we will get to meet our child one day.

So to celebrate we had banana splits. It was the best banana split I had ever had. We shared this celebration with a family here who has become like our own family. It was great.

No longer will I look forward to February 12th with dread, but with the same anticipation as you would look forward to any birthday. And if you'd like to join us for banana splits next year, we'd love to celebrate our child's life with you, the one he had here and the one he is enjoying in heaven!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

25 random things

A cut and paste from my Facebook profile...

1. I absolutely love all fruits and vegetables. Except brussel sprouts and cauliflower. At Christmas I had to eat brussel sprouts twice in two days because it's the traditional thing to eat at Christmas in Scotland, and I couldn't offend the generous host's. They are just as gross as they were the few times I had to eat them as a child.

2. All through my life I've been blessed with amazing girl friends. I could try to expound on how incredible of a gift that is, but I can't really find the words to accurately express my thankfulness for them.

3. When I'm trying to fall asleep, i have an intensely sensitive sense of hearing. Ticking clocks are my enemy. I can't even have ticking watches in the same room. Meanwhile, James can only fall asleep while listening to sports radio, with headphones of course.

4. I've always wanted to learn sign language. I plan to when I retire.

5. Me and two of my best and most long-term friends from childhood have a plan to buy an RV and drive around the country when we retire. It was understood, that if our husbands-to-be didn't agree to this, the wedding was off.

6. I love teeth. I really miss my dental assisting job, and miss talking about teeth and seeing teeth and learning about teeth. I want to go back to school to be a dental hygienist. I know, the teeth obsession thing is really weird, especially since most people's mouths are pretty gross, but somebody's got to love these kinds of things, right?

7. I have a bad habit of not finishing a book before I start another. Right now I'm in the middle of 5. I've resolved to finish all of them before starting a new one; it's been tough because there are so many other ones I want to start reading.

8. The two things about my husband that first caught my attention were his sense of humor (namely his laugh) and how much he loves his sisters.

9. If the rest of the world saw how ridiculously silly I am when it's just me and James, I think most people would pretend they didn't know me.

10. I love kids. I want some of my own. I think twins would be the most amazing gift ever. But of course, I'd be thrilled with just one.

11. I'm not a huge fan of getting flowers as a gift, unless it's every once in a long while or totally unexpected. I'd rather someone pick me some nice wildflowers, or flowers from their garden as opposed to buy them for me. I would like a plant as a gift too, those last longer. I hate red roses, they're so trite. My husband stole my heart when he bought me yellow roses right after we started dating, and I'd never mentioned my dislike of red ones to him.

12. I have a slight fear of falling. Any kind of falling: down stairs, when I'm running, off of a high structure, even falling when I'm going upstairs. The worst part about falling would be if I broke any teeth. Don't talk to me about this, it will just perpetuate the irrational fear.

13. I've never broken any bones. I have sprained my wrist and big toe. The wrist happened as a result of some moshers getting out of hand at a hard core show (I myself wasn't doing any moshing, but isn't that a funny image? )The toe has been sprained for about 2 years; I don't think it will ever heal because won't take a break from running long enough for it to heal.

14. I refuse to buy any item of clothing at full price. I used to spend money like mad without a second thought, but then I got married and the word "budget" was introduced into my vocabulary.

15. The first time James and I went to the grocery store together (before we were married), our opinions of what to buy and how much to spend were so divergent, and a fight was so imminent, we had to abandon the cart and return another day.

16. The older I get, the more grateful I am for the fact that my parents are now my friends.

17. I also have great in-laws.

18. I lived in the same house from birth until I left for college. In the 10 years since I graduated from high school, I've lived in 13 different houses. My incredible parents have helped me move each time.

19. My 10 year old nephew is one of the most amazing people I know.

20. I love the sun and can't stand several gray days in a row. In regard to that aspect of life in Scotland, it's been challenging.

21. I think I've learned more about myself and God's grace in the last 16 months, than I have during the rest of my years combined. I don't think it's a coincidence that during the last 16 months I've experienced some of the most challenging and difficult circumstances of my 28 years.

22. I'm addicted to Burt's Beeswax lip balm and probably always will be.

23. James' marriage proposal to me was the best ever. EVER. I dare you to challenge me on this. I know you *think* yours will be the best because it's your spouse and you're in love and yadda yadda yadda, but it's still not actually better than James' proposal.

24. I love running. It's my form of therapy, it keeps me sane.

25. I wouldn't change for a minute the fact that I grew up in the little ol' city of Hopewell, but I'd never move back there. I love bigger cities too much.