Thursday, August 28, 2008

1096 Days.

1096 days ago, at this time, I was in a car. A little red '95 neon that was somehow still on the road. (For those who are unaware, neons are commonly referred to as "disposable." They're not made to last.)

I was in said car with my wonderful husband. We'd been married for a whole three and a half hours. We were driving to Chicago to catch a plane to Mexico. Our marriage was still, in most ways, made up of dreams and expectations.

1096 days ago, we had no idea that within two years we'd see ourselves with five children in heaven. 1096 days ago, we had no idea that we'd only get to celebrate one anniversary with my grandmother, before she went on to heaven.

1096 days ago, we believed that we'd build our life together. We pictured ourselves restoring a home in which to raise the children we'd simply "believe and try for" and then have. We had no comprehension of the financial, emotional, spiritual and physical obstacles we'd face.

1096 days ago, we kissed for the first time. 1096 days ago, we were eagerly anticipating our "first time together." 1096 days ago, we had the worst sex we've ever had. That sounds awful, but it was. Ask any couple who were virgins when they married - that first time is a doozy.

1096 days ago, we were in love.

731 days ago, we celebrated our first anniversary. We rejoiced that we'd "made it" this far. We were mourning the still fresh loss of our child, and plunging ahead with fertility treatments. 731 days ago, we talked about maybe looking for a house to buy.

731 days ago, we were in love.

366 days ago, we celebrated our first anniversary "without her." We rejoiced in two years of marriage. We'd had 730 days together. We took a big vacation. We saw things too beautiful for words. We stood together dangerously close to a wild grizzly bear. We watched a coyote catch and reject as food some sort of small animal. We made a crazy dash back across the country for the funeral of a friend.

366 days ago, we were in love.

1 day ago, we celebrated our third anniversary over two hostess cupcakes. We rejoiced in three years of marriage. I marveled at how quickly time has gone. I felt a little sad that we've not had any "earth babies" yet. We went to church.

1 day ago, we were in love.

Today, we start our fourth year of marriage. I am still being amazed by the depths of God's love for me. I am almost as amazed by the depths of Derek's love. I am thankful for his patience, dependent on his patience. We're walking together on a journey I thought I'd never have to take. I tried when I was younger, and failed. But now, I've got someone by my side who gives me the courage and strength to do this. I am blessed to have the best husband on the planet. Sorry ladies, I know you think your man is great, but as far as I'm concerned - I got the best one, by far. :)

Today, we are in love.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

He Stands Alone

We drove away slowly. I looked at the two of them, standing there. Light gently illuminated their faces. He had on arm around her waist, the other raised in farewell. She was smiling not at us, but up at him. I turned to my husband and told him to remember this. To remember it well, as I didn't think we'd be driving away to that sight many more times at all. There was a sense of impending sorrow. I wanted to remember them this way - together. Click. A picture frozen in my mind.

They walked out my front door together. Medication clouded my mind and my head. I thought about how I wished she could be without her sling. He put his arm around her shoulder and smiled. Click.

My dad walked in the door of our church. Service was over. I thought it odd that he'd show up too late. He asked to talk in private. I was scared something had happened between he and Kelly. The door closed. Derek and I stood watching him. Tears streamed and he said "Jenn, Gramma and Grampa had an accident. Grampa's in ICU, not doing very well. Gramma didn't make it." The room spun. Tears flowed. Heart broke. Click.

My Pastor walks in. I turn to him, desperate for comfort. He holds me close. I step back and see the sorrow in he and Paula's face. I see my husband barely standing. Click.

He's lying in the bed. His face is pale. His eyes are half closed. Blood speckles his face and hands. He's moaning from a pain far beyond physical. Monitors beep, people stare at the floor. Nurses hush as they approach the room. I go to him, so thankful that he is alive. As broken as his heart. Click.

The last people file past her coffin and out the door. It's just "us," the family. He approaches her, tells her goodnight and he loves her. He puts his hand on the coffin and stares one last time at her face. Every inch of his body is slumped in brokenness. He stands alone. Click.

Cold. Snow blowing on the ground. People huddled in black. Silence. He is staring at the box that contains her body. He stands alone. Click.

It's time to go home. We've been here all day, trying to fill this empty house with something other than sorrow. As we pull away, I look back. In the doorway, I can see him. Hand raised in farewell. Shoulders slumped, head ducked. He stands alone. Click.

It's Christmas. Her favorite. We are packing up, ready to go home. We've laughed and cried today. Managed to move past the ackward moments and enjoy each other. I look up. He's there, in the living room doorway, leaning on the door jam. Tears flow freely, and his face contorts with sobs held in check. He stands alone. Click.

There's only one person in line ahead of him. His face reflects the joy of the occasion. His eyes hold love for his new daughter-in-law. But there's sadness. It's deep, painful. He's waiting his turn. He stands alone. Click.

Parent picture time. Father, mother, daughter. Son, Father. He stands alone. Click.

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Saturday, August 2, 2008


Today, I'm writing regarding Psalm 139. I'm reading it, studying it, letting it reach me. Scripture in red. All from Psalm 139. Starting with verse 1.

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.

My God knows me. Me. Have you ever considered that? That the God who created the heavens and the earth, set every star in place, and measured the oceans in the palm of His hand, KNOWS me. And He KNOWS you. He knows everything we do. He knows what we're like. He knows our motives. He knows.

You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

He surrounds me. He's before me, He's behind me. His hand is on me. His loving hand. His correcting hand. His guiding hand. His gentle hand. His loving hand. His protecting hand. It's upon me. Me. Flawed, imperfect me. His hand. The hand of God Almighty.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

The right hand of God will hold me fast. The right hand is the hand of power, of authority. It will hold me. No matter where I go. He's always there. He's never gone. I can never go so far away that He isn't there. In the depths, He's there. When despair, hurt, and anguish overwhelm, He is there, holding me up. When joy, peace, and life flood my being, He is right there with me.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Darkness. I have been in the darkest of places. Not just physical places, although I've been deep below the earth in caves. In the darkest hour, when my soul longed for nothing more than death, He was there. Even though despair had clouded my vision and was shielding my eyes from the light ahead, He could see. Darkness is not darkness to Him. He can always see. Even when we can't.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Regardless of what I think about myself, God made me. He doesn't make mistakes. He made me well. I may not have the body I would like. I may have to struggle for what others take for granted. But He made me. He made me able to see, to hear, to taste. I can walk. I can talk. My mind is quick, my Spirit alive, my soul full.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

He knew who I'd be. He knew what I'd look like. And every day has been ordained. Every. Single. Day. He has a purpose. Each breath I take, every beat of my heart, has a purpose. He has ordained that I should live.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.

When I awake. Here on earth, I wake up after going to sleep. I am still here. And so is He. And one day, I will go to sleep. And when I wake, even though I'll be far from this place, I'll still be with Him. What a glorious hope!

Here, I'm skipping past verses 19-22. Not because they're bad or wrong, but because I'm having a hard time relating to them.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

God will show me the way. He knows every thought. I don't really know my own heart, but He does. And He sees every way in which I'm wrong, and leads me toward what's right. He leads me toward everylasting life.

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Here is an exerpt from my own, personal journal that I keep:

I think that one of the things I appreciate most about my husband is how safe he is. He's predictable. He's stable (well, usually. We all have our moments). I love the safe feeling I have when I'm in his arms. I love how he can reach around me and totally envelop me. I like that he's much larger than I. I like how well I fit there in his arms. I like that he's strong.

There's a similar appreciation with my Pastor. He's always appropriate. It's safe to be around him. And when I most need to feel protected and safe, he's there. There's a fatherly way about his hugs... even though they're always done to the side (with the exception of when Gramma was killed), there's strength, love, and protectiveness conveyed. A certain way of gently pulling the person's head towards his shoulder. It's good.

I'm blessed to have these men in my life. Good men. Godly men. Men who love me. Men who protect me.

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