Sometimes you can read scripture and struggle with it’s meaning. Sometimes you know what it means, but somehow you really don’t KNOW it in the depth of your soul. Somehow, sometimes, there is a disconnect. So you ask for wisdom and understanding.
When our Sam was born at 3 1/2 lbs, size was not his obstacle. He was pending open heart surgery in a couple months and we had barely enough time to process the blessing of Sam and Josiah coming home, let alone his pending surgery. On October 24th, at 4 months old, Sam had a very successful open heart surgery. As he lay in the PICU bed, Sean and I kept feeling over whelming gratitude as well as immense guilt. Why guilt? Well, we were about the only ones with a success story in that PICU. On all the beds surrounding Sam, children were dying. Family and friends streamed passed our little Sam sobbing, blank faces, overwhelming grief. Occasionally they would stop at Sam’s bed to see this tiny, little baby. They’d ask and it was almost hard to answer. So we began to ask God, “what do we say to these families? While their child is dying and ours is not?” His answer….Psalm 46:8 “Come and see the works of the LORD.” So we wrote it on a piece of paper and put it on Sam’s bed for all to see. We spent the rest of our days in that PICU loving and encouraging families, hearing their stories, and sharing in their pain.
Little did we know that God had chosen that passage to be Sam’s life theme! Many of you who know us are aware that last year Sam spent all of December in the PICU again. This time his lungs collapsed. As we were swirling with emotions, and trying once again to grasp the severity of each day. God turned our hearts once again. In each bed surrounding Sam, children died. Wrenching tears and cries you could hear through the walls came down like rain. Again LORD? we asked. As if it wasn’t overwhelming enough to deal with the fact our son was having great trouble coming off the vent and was looking seriously at a trache to breathe. Our troubles seemed so tiny in comparison.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary, and beheld your power and your glory, Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live.” Psalm 63:1-4
We KNEW more than ever the deep, deep truth of the Psalms. Now we read the words and they jumped off the page right into the depths of our hearts.
Sam (and Sean- who never left his side) came home home on Christmas eve. 25 days that seemed like 25 years! What an Advent!
As Advent begins this year, I cannot help but remember last year, as well as 7 years ago, when our holidays were spent in the PICU at a Children’s Hospital.
Sometimes people ask us why bad things happen. There are so many reasons, but let me share a few. God has increased our love for our son, increased our gratitude for doctors and hospital staff, God has given us great perspective on how quickly life can end, God showed us how to receive blessing from friends and family, God rearranged our priorities, God has shown us greater grief and need in the lives of those around us, and His Word is more ALIVE in our hearts because of it.
Take time this Advent to look back at what God has taught you over the years, and give thanks. A BIG RESOUNDING THANKS! And ask God how you can give to those who need it more than you. Did you know that most PICU’s allow people to come in and play music for the sick children? They let people come and sing carols. You are allowed to come in to the PICU and give gifts to children and families and hospital staff (just no food). The same is true in nursing homes and adult living facilities.
May your gratitude abound this Advent for the Great and Marvelous Works the Lord has done in your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sometimes you just need a good laugh! The other day our oldest daughter, Sophie, was a little down. We suggested she throw a dance party to cheer everyone up. The next thing we knew, she had her brothers dressed up in tutus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One is even wearing a hotdog hat! All for their sister- what love! Maybe these pictures will brighten up your day with a good laugh! In case you are wondering, that’s a Hawaiian grass skirt and a spit rag (clean) on Sean’s head. Who knew that combo would yield a shepherd?!?!?!
“Oh my! Oh my! A gady ba!
No, we didn’t misspell anything. That was a quote from Little Miss Sarah.
Living in an old house has it’s perks for a curious 1 1/2 yr.old. Every year, about this time, the lady bugs invade! They manage to squirm their way through your windows and over populate your sunny living room! Here in CT, they are in abundance. They are used as a natural “pesticide” to eat aphids. I must admit, I was having a hard time being grateful for these little creatures. We had 1000’s of them swarming our ceiling. But just when my attitude was creeping in the wrong direction, out popped Miss Sarah! She caught one! What joy and delight. She ran around to every member of the family (multiple times) to show them her magnificent discovery! A “Gady Ba!” We have ooodles of lady bugs! And that is just PERFECT if you are 1 1/2….or a farmer.
And if you are someone who loves answers, solutions, or problem solving…well, this portion is for you. Just get out your trusty vacuum and suck them up. They swirl around, get dizzy and then you can set them free (far from your house) and everyone is happy- you, your living room, your kids, and all the little gady bas!
It all started with some “out of town” family coming to the area. Then, our brains began to churn….how about we invite….and then……what about….them too!…..and maybe….YES! Oh, this person doesn’t have family near by and then what about– Oh, we don’t really know them yet…Let’s call them anyways….you never know… that would be a blast! Let’s do it!
And so we did.
The preparation was equally as fun! Hauling chairs and tables. Setting everything out. Vats of cranberries, veges, potatoes, stuffing, rolls, pumpkin pie, and of course 45 lbs of turkey!
Gathering together family and friends, both old and new. We enjoyed the fellowship of others, lots and lots of food, and building up each other. The kids (and some adults) climbed trees, rode bikes and scooters, and ate GIANT OREO cakes ( we thought that would be an excellent NEW tradition).
The evening was opened by a reading of Psalm 100, chosen and read by Jacob, which was perfectly fitting in every way. The piano was played by almost every kid there-and there were 27 of them (kids that is)! From Amazing Grace to…well… we will call them “creative melodies”!
We would like to encourage you all who read— have you been thinking about someone lately? Well, invite them over. Then, invite a few more! Don’t be shy. If you are thinking, “we don’t know them yet”, just call them anyways! Be brave! Who knows you may have so much fun that the evening will go long and you will all purpose to do it again. Next time with more!
If we are fleeing from the things the world says are important, such as money, material possessions, even status in our community or workplace, but have no where to run, we are running unrestrained. “Without vision, the people perish.” Literally, the word translated perish means unrestrained. Without something to capture our attention and focus, we will be unrestrained. We will do what seems best in our own eyes, what is pleasing to our own nature. The world will help us with that by telling us what is important. They will tell us how to heal our wounds, emotional or otherwise. The world will tell us how to feel good about ourselves. The world will tell us all kinds of things that may even sound good. The world will provide that direction for us.
But Paul doesn’t just say “flee from all this”, he says “…and pursue.” Paul gives us that much needed direction, vision, so that we will not be unrestrained, unbridled. An unbridled horse will run wildly and will not easily be caught. He may do harm to himself and others if left unbridled and running wild. But when under control of the rider, that same horse can be ridden in any direction, used to work, and kept completely under control. We are no different. For God to use us effectively, we have to be under His control, not unbridled.
So you, man of God, flee from what the world demands of you and sells you. Flee from what the world would have you believe is most important. Flee from prioritizing that which will draw your heart from your God and your family. Flee from the subtle dangers of the good things of this world that draw us away from the only truly good thing, God Himself. Flee from all of this, and pursue a vision of a life lived with purpose and meaning. Flee from all this, and pursue a life that will bring God glory. Flee from all this and pursue a life through which you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind. “Flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1Timothy 6:11).
To pursue isn’t just to run after, but to pursue earnestly and diligently with a desire to obtain. In the coming days we will explore what it means to pursue with that desire each one of these things in the context of our lives as men, husbands, and fathers. I look forward to sharing some of what God is doing in me through this passage and so many more.