04 January 2014

A month in the valley

I am not sure how many friends read here anymore, but for those who don't know via facebook, one month ago today our daughter, Elora Eilis, who was due to be born in early April, was born after we discovered she had died in utero at 26 weeks.

This month seems as though it has carried an entire life's worth of feeling in it. Elora's death and birth brought into clear focus the fragile beauty of life which is a realization that carries with it the weight of Glory, I think. We went into the Advent and Christmas season with a stark awareness of our desperation for God to arrive in places so previously dark and seemingly uninhabitable that His arrival could only be described in terms of dazzling Light. "God with us" has never seemed more true.  In grief, He has been constant, never turning or foresaking. Like the great lion weeping with a small boy in a new country, He has demonstrated over and over again just how very "with us" He is.

This next week, we head back to the small classical school we attend. There, our children will be taught by loving friends and in turn, I will have the opportunity to meet every day with young minds stuffed full-to-overflowing with big ideas. I am so grateful for them all, but there is a part of me that is mourning the movement of time, the inevitable loss of this place wherein we have walked the valley of the shadow of death hand-in-hand with our Savior. The valley has been dark, but His presence has illumined our very souls.

As we begin to emerge from the deep onto the plain, I know that His light will come from other sources, too.  And while we need that and will rejoice in it, I confess, I will miss how aware I have been of His nearness. Like Mary in the garden, clinging to resurrected Christ, a great part of me doesn't understand how to both let go and still see Him clearly before me, also. I hear Him saying, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" but my goodness, I do so
want to cling...

01 January 2014

On 2013

As posted to facebook

"Dennis and I have been reflecting on 2013 these past few days. This tenth year of our marriage was such a hard year for us in so many ways: the loss of our Elora obviously tops the list. But we dealt with a systemic strep infection that had at least one person in the house sick constantly from Jan to May until we finally figured out the illness, a hospital stay for Emmeliese, a lot of overtime work hours, a difficult pregnancy...We decided to work through parenting difficulties with the help of a counselor, which, though incredibly helpful, is just hard... I faced a frustrating medical diagnosis... Dennis gave up carbs and sugar, for goodness sake. It felt tough on many levels. 

But 2013 was also extraordinarily wonderful. It was, by far, the year in which God grew us deepest into the soil of his provision. We have a long way to go, but we experienced such joy and satisfaction this year. We have discovered creativity and passions we had forgotten. We have developed understanding and compassion we didn't have. Our love for each other and our children is greater and deeper than we ever imagined it could be. Our pruning has brought forth flowers and fruit. We have seen resurrection from those parts of ourselves we have let die.

And, family and friends, we have been reminded again and again of the goodness of God's people. You have borne our sorrows and our pain, along with our ineptitude and mistakes, and have showed us grace and generosity and love, love, love again and again. Your prayers and practical love have sustained us. We are humbled and grateful for what God has done through you.

At the end of this difficult, beautiful year we pray that you and yours also see God's good and merciful hand shaping your 2013. He withholds no good thing from us...

Here's to 2014!