The Crushing Weight of Death…And the Glorious Hope of Eternal Life…

 

Our "Jungle Camp" house

Our summer home

 

He comes in the front door, head down, staring down at his hands. He looks up at me, voice crackling, “Mommy, Mommy!!”. We have a whole bunch of people over for coffee and I am finishing a conversation so I ask if he can wait just a moment. But as I do, I look down to see his soft brown eyes looking back at me with heartbreak written all over them.

I take his hand, quickly finish my conversation, and excuse myself.
“What is it, baby?”, I ask him.
“Look, Mom, look at my frogs”, he says to me barely getting the words out.
He opens his hands and I look down into those little fingers. Two  frogs lay there frozen in time, the moment death took their little lives away. He couldn’t take his eyes off of them.
I remember the day before- when he caught them. They were little tree frogs about an inch long.
Ransom's two frogs looked like this.

Ransom’s two frogs looked like this.

He thought they were so cute and loved them at first sight. His smile melted me, he was so happy to care for them. He put sticks and grass in his little bug cage for them and a spider for them to eat too.
But today, they were gone. His four year old mind trying to process this as tears flood his eyes and begin to slowly roll down his cheeks.
It was the first time he saw it. Death.
He heard about it last year when we lost our baby, our third child. He heard about it as we talked thru the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus several times last year.
But this was the first time he saw it with his own two eyes.  No moving, no jumping, no blood pumping, no eyes looking, no ears hearing, silence, darkness, stale, stench, death.
“Mom, can we take them to the doctor?”, he pleads.
“There is nothing the doctors can do. Your frogs died. I am so sorry.”. I reply, tears now forming in my own eyes.
“But we need to!”, he cries. “How can we make them alive?! We need to bring them back to life!”.
“I am so sorry, Ransom but we can’t bring them back to life. They are dead, they are gone. Let’s go get Dad and Judah and talk about it together, okay?”.
My heart breaks as I see on my four year olds face the crushing weight of death. I see his feeling of helplessness. I see his pain and grief. I see him wanting to try anything to save these little frogs, realizing he has no control at all. No control over death.
We wrap the frogs in a napkin. I offer to help him bury them but he wants to hold them a little longer.
 I find my husband and Judah. We gather as a family in our little plastic and pole house and we pray to our Father for Ransom in his grief.
And my husband gently begins to speak to the family.
He reminds us of Creation and how everything was created good. Frogs were created perfect. God created them and said they were good.
He talks about the Garden. Its beauty, its Creator, the people put there.
He asks “If frogs were created good and perfect, how could this happen to them?”.
My sons voice cracked as he said, “We ate the fruit, Dad.  We ate the fruit.”
We talk about the depths of sorrow that that one choice made for all of man kind.
“There was a promise though, right guys? In the midst of the worst thing in the world that could happen, God made a promise, didn’t He?”
“Yeah, He promised a Rescuer. He promised to send a Rescuer.”.
“Who was that Rescuer?”.
“Jesus. Jesus, came to rescue us and beat that level”.
(He is really into a certain Mario game right now so beating a level is something on his mind :)
“What level?”.
“Death.”
We explain to him again what that one choice did for all of mankind. We pray for him. We set the little napkin wrapped frogs on a shelf and he walks away, head down, crushed. The sting of death, o so strong, even for a four year old.
Evening comes fast and  I tuck him in to bed. We talk again about how sad it was to lose those frogs. And we pray. And we thank God for the frogs life, and for our lives, and for the Rescuer and what He did.
We are driving home now, the next day. Ransom has a big smile on his face. I grin and ask him what he is thinking about, curious.
IMG_2861

Playing with one of the frogs the day before they passed on

He tells me his frogs are dead but its ok.
“Why is it ok? Why is it ok that your frogs are dead?”.
“Well, because Jesus gives life. And even if we die, we will live. He is the Rescuer.”
“Mom, I am a sinner. I can’t stop sinning. But Jesus came to rescue me. And we will all still live if we believe.”
The glorious hope of eternal life. A simple truth that can even be understood by a child of four years.
My soul is crying out, thanking God for my son’s understanding, his child like faith, and for a Father who drew my baby to Himself. Only He can use something as horrible as death, to bring someone to an understanding of what it means to truly live.
I remember all the nights I kneeled by his bed, watching him sleep, begging, pleading to God for His life. Crying for him to truly understand. I thank the Lord for His work in our Ransom’s life. I thank Him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I thank God that no matter what happens in this life, that I will see my son around the throne of God worshipping Him thru out all of eternity.
Tears stream down my cheeks, as I think of all the truths I get to teach him now about who He is in Christ. About all the things that happened to him and for him the moment he first believed-  secure for all eternity, accepted in the Beloved for all time, secure in the love of God, every spiritual blessing, a new creation, and the list goes on and on…
He will be hurt many more times in his life by the crushing weight of death, but now, oh Precious Lord now, he possesses the glorious hope of eternal life.
He sleeps, secure in the love of his Rescuer. I sit by his bedside, thanking the Lord Jesus for the life of this child, that is secured for eternity.

He sleeps, secure in the love of his Rescuer. I sit by his bedside, thanking the Lord Jesus for the life of this child, that is secured for all eternity.

A Better Place…

hike 1

I don’t know what possesses me to do it but I do it anyways. I tell my husband, “I would like to go on a hike. Let’s go…today!!”. He is ecstatic. This is his thing. Something he is always wishing I would want to do.

Five minutes go by, we haven’t even left, and I think, “What was I thinking? What happend in my mind that I would tell him that?”. I hate hiking. I hate most everything about it. Ok I know, hate is a strong word. I very much dislike it. I hate dislike the mosquitos that swarm in herds around only me, as if my blood is so much sweeter than that of my other half. He could hike all day and not get one. single. bite. Me? I have 15 in the first 10 minutes. I dislike the fact that a tick can at any moment attach its little, itty, bitty body to my skin whilst I am unawares in the unknown forest. I dislike getting lost. Which has happend most every time I have hiked anywhere.

But…I love the views. And the feeling I get afterward of accomplishment. And I love taking the first big gulp of ice cold water when I am super tired and sweaty after climbing up a crazy trail. And I love when I find a bright pink flower, tucked deep inside the woods that maybe no one else sees except me… like maybe Jesus put it there for just me to see and to be in awe of His glory and the fact that He sees it all, even in a vast, deep forest on a mountain.

So maybe thats why this morning when I woke up I told him that I want to go hike.

So I make a lunch for four, fill up our water bottles, grab the bug lotion and bandaids and we are off.


hike

We get there and we can’t find our way. What trail do we get on? What way do we go? Why can’t I read the map like a normal person? A nice man in red with a water-bottle-fanny-pack, sees we are seriously confused and gives us the gist of the trails here and points us in the direction we should go to get where we want to go.

This should be easy, a family day of fun, but I am immediately recognizing my inadequacy and that I am much more comfortable behind a haircutting chair, with my leopard print wedge heels on, in the concrete city jungle. I am out of my comfort zone and getting eaten alive by these mosquitos that insist on swarming me. Why, again, did I tell him I wanted to do this?

I think of this moment, as my finger is stuck on the computer’s send button this evening. It is seriously stuck. I can’t move it. I am frozen.

I feel my husband’s hand over mine. “We can do it…together”, he says softly.

“I can’t”, my voice crackling, “I can’t do it.”. A huge alligator tear falls swiftly down my swollen mosquito bitten cheek.

“Yes, you can. We, can. This is what we have been waiting for, what He has sent us to do.”, he tells me.

Yes, my husband is usually always the voice of reason when I am overwhelmed-I thank God for this fact.  I feel his hand press on mine. We push together… and it’s done. Our plane tickets to South America are purchased.

We are going. In just 59 days we will leave. On a huge plane (And by the way, I HATE flying. Ok, seriously, seriously dislike. Ok no, I HATE flying.). Going to a place that I have never been. That may have more mosquitos than we have here. I will not know the language. I will not be able speak to anyone in a real conversation until I learn the language well enough. (If you have met me, you will know how hard it will be for me to not be able to converse with people at first!). I will not know the culture. It will be a totally foreign land. What will my kids do? Will they make friends? Will they get sick? Will I be ruining their lives by taking them there?? These are all things going thru my mind in a manner of a minute.

Oh sweet Jesus, my heart is fluttering, beating so fast. Am I having a heart attack? This is happening, actually happening. The tickets are purchased and we are going.

"I can't go any further Mom! We've walking all day!!".  I have felt this way too on our 8 year journey to get to the field.

“I can’t go any further Mom! We’ve been walking all day!!”.
I have felt this way too on our 8 year journey to get to the field.

I begin to cry. No, I begin to sob. My husband, he sees me, crying like a baby. He was previously smiling and ecstatic, because, well, this is his thing. He is a missionary kid. He grew up in  a foreign land.  He loves travel, culture, adventure, the unknown. But he sees me, he sees me crying and I look up and see his eyes, and he has compassion for me, the city dweller, the safety keeper, who is straight terrified of the unknown.

I am sobbing. “I can’t do it. I can’t go. What am I doing? How did this happen? Why did I press that button?”. I am repeating this over and over. And then, “I love it here, I am safe, I know what to do, I know what to say, I have friends, I want to stay here. What did we just do???”.

I know it is just a passing moment. So does he. But even so, he grabs me, puts his arms around me, and holds me tight while the tears pour out of my eyes onto his shoulders.

He holds me. And doesn’t condemn. Just loves. I feel grace pour out of his arms around me and I think of what Jesus has said to me, to us.

“…All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.  Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.  If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”. Hebrews 11

hike 3

And He reminds me, here in my husbands arms, that there is a better place. One that is better than the place I am comfortable in. A place where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more anguish, no more longing for something better,  no more holes left in hearts waiting to be filled, no more jealousy, rage, grief, or anything left to be desired.

It couldn’t be a more perfect place: ‘a heavenly homeland’.

And there is people who do not know about this place. People who don’t even know about HIM. And the hope He brings. I still sob but it is a sob of longing. To tell them, to share with them the Treasure of the heavens and earth, a Person who came to die for them, that they would know life to the fullest and live with Him for eternity. To share with just one person who has never heard makes it all worth it. All the tears, the pain of leaving, that one may have eternal life or even that they would have the gift of choosing to believe truth or reject it.

And so instead of battling the fear, I choose to look at Him.  I picture my Father holding me in His arms just as my husband is holding me in his, “Jesus!”, I cry. “I choose Your peace, Your joy. You brought us here to this point- You called us and we followed- and we pressed the button to get our tickets and we are going. Use us to the fullest extent, that You alone would be glorified!! Thank You, that this is all out of my comfort zone, that I am terrified, that I am weak and completely inadequate. That I can’t even go on a small two hour hike much less go to the ends of the earth on my own strength- because then anyone who sees will know that any good that comes out of any of this is ALL because of You. Thank You, Jesus, that Your grace is completely sufficient. Thank you for choosing to use someone as weak as me. May I always remember what You have done for me, and where you have brought me from-You pulled me out of a pit of darkness and showered me with the Light of Your Son and there is grace- even for a sinner such as me. Thank You for sending us! What a privilege and honor to go in your Name. I pray You would keep us strong and courageous, that we may share with them the greatest news in the world. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You”.

As I think on what He has done to get us here, I can’t stop saying it,

“Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.”.

And after eight years of training and preparing, I open up the closet, take out the dusty suitcases, fill up my water bottle, and begin to prepare my mind for the journey. Tears still falling, heart full, I open up the Book, the One that challenged me to go.

I thank Jesus that this world is not all there is – that I am foreigner, a  nomad on this earth. The Book reminds me to live in light of eternity. To invest my life into eternity. Yes, we could do that here. But He has sent us there.

So we go. Longing for the Better Place.

 

 

 

Mum

I hold his small hand tight. I can feel that he wants to run , he is squirming with all his might, feet sloppy. The floor is sopping wet, we slowly make our way to the kiddies side of the pool. We toddle past the ‘big’ pool, and music is blaring from a boombox. The older peoples water aerobic class. It looks like so much fun. I smile as they kick and jam to the music.

I get my baby in the kiddy pool. He sees a ball. “Let’s get it Mommy!”, he says. So we ‘swim’, me walking on my knees in this shallow water, my hands holding him tight, his little legs kicking. “I swimmin’, Mom! I swimmin”!”. I look at him with such delight. He is a boy now, not a baby. Two whole years old. He reaches for the ball and I look toward where the music is coming from again. I wonder if I could take this class too. And then I see them. In the back row, a lady about my age, black hair, tattoos. And next to her, an older woman. I assume its her mum because of the way they talk to eachother, how close they are together, and way they look at eachother. The younger lady encourages the older. Shows her how to use the foam weight thingys. They bop to the music laughing and enjoying the movements and enjoying eachother.

I look at my love in my arms. Will he ever join a water aerobics class with me when I am old and grey? I really, really hope so.  And then I think of you.

You, who carried me in your womb for 9 months. You, who kissed all my owies, and braided my hair. You, who made my favorite meals and made holidays extra special. You, who worked all night so that we could have what we needed during the day.You, who were both mom and dad to us. You, who made me enchiladas and drank tea with me when  Sammy was murdered and I needed to just be by my mum. You, who when I was lost in alcohol and drug addiction, never failed to pursue me ( I still have all the cards you sent me!) and love me like the Father. You, who constantly encourage me to KOKO (keep on keeping on!).

People say to us, ‘Wow, you are giving up so much to go to South America!’. But no one ever acknowledges what you are giving up. You, who never asked us to stay for your own good. Who never discouraged us from doing what the Lord led us to do. You, who always encouraged and never once brought up what you would be missing.

Having our nightly earl grey tea, as we age. Seeing your baby grandkids turn into men. The birthdays, the anniversarys, their learning to count, learning  the alphabet, the Christmases, the Easters. The crawling, the walking, first day of school, the first bug caught. You are missing alot. But you never complain. You never make us feel like we are taking something away from you.

Because you are you. And You love Someone far more than you love us. His name is Jesus. And you prayed to Him for years, YEARS,  for your baby girl to believe Him at His Word.

And she didn’t.

And she didn’t.

And she didn’t.

But you didn’t give up. You never gave up. Because you believed Him and you believed He could reach even your girl who had strayed off the deep, dark end.

And then one day she did. She came to the end of herself. And was helpless and lifeless and hopeless. And you watched it and you never judged, just loved. Instead of telling her to change, you asked Jesus to intervene because you knew only He could save that girl. And you loved and loved and poured grace over her. Your little baby girl -that one you gave birth to and dressed up in those dresses and clipped those little barrettes in her hair- she met Jesus. And you saw Him pick up your baby from the muck and mire and you saw Him intervene. You witnessed a miracle as He saved her life for eternity.

So giving up some things in this life, you understand. Because it is for eternity that you are living. And although I wish we could take that water aerobics class together, and I miss your laugh, and your green eyes, and coloring and cutting your hair, I know I will be with you for eternity and that gives me hope. That helps me to ‘keep on keeping on’.

Because there are more people in the muck and mire, and they need to meet Him too. They need to at least have a chance to meet Him, and right now they do not. They don’t have a fighting chance because they have none of His Words in their language.

The music blares and he threw the ball and I turn. I see my husband and my other son. And a slow tear slips down my cheek because I miss you. And you are not here seeing this, the every day of our life.

And He reminds me, ““He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it”. 

Sacrifice, love, the gospel. Lived out in you.

My mum.

The tears mix with water as we splash.

And I am thankful. Truly thankful for you. 298_21007756685_8874_n

Straight to the Heart…

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I take a moment to be still and look outside my window. It’s the middle of the day. It is so very still and quiet, this is rare in my house full of boys.

The grey clouds hover above inviting me to reach for my steaming cup of earl grey tea. The wind is blowing the trees, back and forth, back and forth. Some pinecones fall to the ground in rhythm with the sparse raindrops.

It kind of feels like my old home, all the way over in Seattle. If I just look at the scene directly out the window, I might just believe it. I close my eyes and daydream that I am there- minutes away from my best friends, a short stretch of I-5 the only thing separating me from my family and everything familiar.

I open my eyes and remember where I am.

I think of the road as the rain falls faster.

The long and twisting road, with its confusing turns and its uphill battles- the road that has brought us here to Ontario, and to today in 2014.

Sometimes our destination seems like it will never be reached, almost like a cruel joke.

Sometimes I was so afraid on those turns that I near gave up the fight.

Sometimes I was so sad that the road became flooded with tears.

Sometimes so frustrated that doing anything to get me off this road looked good.

This journey has been 8 years. Wonder what my attitude what have been after 40? In a desert?

Yet even when my faith small, even when close to giving up there was something that kept me going.

Like a sparkle of Light in a dark sky,

like a ray of sunshine thru these cold, dark clouds,

like the Light reaching out for me and my family…

Hope.

Even if it was just a little, it was enough to keep me hanging on.

Not like–“I hope God shows up” like I hope the rain is going to stop. Or I hope my coffee is strong enough today– but a confident expectation in the midst of a road that would oftentimes appear bleak.

A hope that says:

His promises are true.

His unfailing love for me is real.

He is going to return for His Bride.

A hope that knows He has sent us.

“Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”. John 20:21

Knowing that He is for us, despite the evidence we see with just our eyes, despite the confusing road, one where sometimes we could not see one step in front of us.

This road has led us ‘straight to the heart’.

The journey has exposed our hearts and where our treasures lie- in our destination or in Him?

It has opened our hearts that He may reach into our very souls and speak to us tenderly, filing us with hope only He can give.

It has fanned the flame in our hearts to tell those who do not know Him, of His saving grace.

And it has led us straight to the “Heart of South America”.

m_paraguay This long, twisty road has led us to Paraguay. A beautiful place that has groups of people with no understanding of the Hope we have.

As our excitement for the turn in our road grows, we have come to the point where we could say, we would not trade in our road for another. What we have learned the past few years we could never have learned in a classroom. Our Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who has ministered to our hearts like no other.

So we will follow Him all the way to the Heart of South America.

And like a wise man we know once said, “The journey IS the destination”.

My thoughts are interrupted by a little squeal, “I’m awake, Mom!”.

I look out the window, the rain falls, the wind blows, my tea is gone and its back to life in real time.

Peace in my heart and stillness… on the road, and in my soul.

Thank you Jesus.

 

The Pain that Reminds me I am not Home: PART 4: The After.

Print**Those of you who follow our blog know we keep a journal of most of our travels. This time was no different except our pain so raw and our grief so fierce that I didn’t have the energy to post anything until now. But here it is- our roadtrip after losing our Skye…**

Starbucks- 9:45

Gas- 9:48

On the road: 9:58

Traffic Jam I-405- 10:20

Here we go.....

Here we go…..

Judah talking to himself. Ransom reading. Wesley driving. Me heading for healing. Driving from what I am leaving behind: trauma, pain, yet embracing it, feeling it, this is how I know I am alive and on this earth, because I feel this pain.

The Pain that Reminds me I am Not Home…

I let it come. And I live thru it. And I long for my true Home.

Philippians 3:10: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” .

I have had this as my life verse since the first time I read it. Never meant so much to me until now, the most traumatic summer of my life.

Loss of plans.

Loss of life.

Yet He could sympathize in every single hurt and pain. He knows the loss of a Child well. He met me where I was at. Crumpled on the floor, laboring for a baby I would not meet on this earth.

Crying so much I thought there could be no more tears. But they came.

Angry. Sad. Confused.

When my 3 year old says, “I love your baby, Mom!” and kisses my stomach, and I don’t have the heart to tell him yet.

How will I tell him?

12:30 p.m.

Need Coffee.

My one year old thinks if anyone has food in their hands then it must be for him too. This was discovered as he ran up to a trucker at the rest stop who had a sandwich. He was yelling, “Snacks! Snacks!”.

1:51 p.m.

Ransom: “There’s no God like Jehovah! There’s no God like Jehovah! There’s no God like Jehovah!”.

My boy, singing me some Truth.

My boy, singing me some Truth.

I thank God for my son, who is singing some real Truth here.

Today Judah spoke his first real sentence!

“Milk! I want milk! Please!”.

Growing up too fast I tell ya.

Day 2: Leaving Missoula Montana.

9:05- We go to the free continental breakfast. A kid’s dream- fruit loops, donuts, muffins. Not stuff we ever have in our house but its free so we let them have their fill.

We see some older women going into the elevator. They seem really irritated. Ransom is jumping up and down in the elevator saying, “This feels so weird!”, really loud. Not culturally appropriate for an elevator but he’s 3. The irritated one smiled.

Another of the irritated ladies is at the front desk. She is talking rudely to the front desk girl. I have been a front desk girl so I can relate. Not fun.

We walk by and take our stuff to our car.

Three minutes later the irritated ones all walk to their car. I realize that they are all together. I ask Ransom if he would like to tell those ladies to have a great day. Nothing can make a day better than a cute little kid. He wants to. He wants me to come with him and hold his hand.

We walk 4 cars down. They were busy loading up their things so they didn’t hear him the first time. Say, “Excuse me ladies!”- I encourage him.

He clears his throat. “EXCUSE ME, LADIES!!”. He calls out.

They turn.

“Excuse me, ladies!”, he exclaims. “Have a great day!!”, he says in the cheeriest voice ever.

Smiles all around.

Mission accomplished.

“Thank you, young man! You have a great day too and a wonderful trip!”, smiled irritated lady number 1.

“Thank you!!”, he says with an ear to ear grin.

Don’t know where they were headed.

Or where they were coming back from…

A funeral, a wedding, a reunion…

You never know where a stranger has been or where they are going but everyone needs Light. Today you can have the privilege of being that Light to someone- that is what my son reminded me of today.

12:30 p.m.

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

—Hillsong

Miserable mess thru Montana

Numb thru North Dakota

5:15ish

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I just realized I had a fun day.

Singing songs. Going to Jamestown.

Seeing the biggest buffalo in the world.

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And I realize that I hadn’t cried all thru North Dakota.

Then 68 miles west of Fargo, I break down again.

I am so sad to not meet my baby.

And that our baby won’t come on road trips with us,

or sing with us,

or go see Buffalos

or see cornfields,

or ask what a wind mill is,

or want to swim in the pool with us,

or ask repeatedly for fruit snacks,

I don’t know how I can possibly cry anymore,

but I am.

My throat hurts from the constant lump.

I just want my baby to be alive.

__________________________________

The last day of the road trip…

The leaves are changing color already, he says.

Yeah, its pretty, I reply.

The faster they change, the sooner I am out of this worst summer of my life.

The pain is raw.

Yet He is here.

My Dad.

Holding me.

Sympathizing in my pain.

He has felt this agony.

“When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.”

He has said this to me,

and I have found,

in my very worst summer,

this to be true.