Saturday, January 30, 2010

Newsy Bits of the Past Few Days

I just sent this note to the Trisomy Listserve I'm on--a group that I've been connected with since Keren was born. One of the members always puts reminder notes out about kids' birthdays and "angel days" (what they call the day a child died), so Keren's date came up this week. I ended up writing an update and thought, "Hmmm, this would be good to archive on my blog!" So here it is:

Thanks All, for the warm thoughts, prayers, memories! It is mind-boggling to realize that a year has passed already since we lost our Keren-girl. It definitely has not been the year we wanted, but despite the pain of Keren's death and the hole she left here, we've had so much joy over the past year, too. The other two girls, Clare and Evvie, have grown leaps and bounds, stretching us in millions of ways, and our little Jonathan who was born in August is a new bright light. The girls are eager to tell him all about Keren "So that he'll get to know about her since he didn't get to meet her," and while some of their tales are slightly apocryphal, it melts my heart to hear them :) .

For whatever reason, the past couple months (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and this month leading up to the 28th) have been much easier for Kraig and me emotionally than her birthday month (September) and last October. I walked around those two months feeling like I had a lump in my chest that wouldn't loosen up. The last couple months have been full of poignant, sweet memories, but the depression hasn't accompanied it. I know that I can't guarantee that it won't return, but I've been learning to accept that what I'm feeling now is now, and whatever I'm feeling another time is that time, and I don't have to feel a certain way. I'm realizing all the more why we can't put grief on a linear track and dictate how people deal with it.

We spent the 28th quietly--Kraig went to work, I was home with the girls, then we went to my parents for dinner. My biggest prayer request was for sunshine and blue skies, because it floods our house with light and makes even cold January days seem warm and full of life. God totally answered that prayer! I was able to take time to write a little about my thoughts that day--I've been been getting into blogging and have enjoyed the outlet of getting my thoughts down. The girls and I did some baking projects that afternoon. My friend Laura brought a mylar balloon by that she and her kids picked out (a heart with "Love" written on it, and shiny--just like Keren always loved). "We just wanted you to know we miss her too," she said. I talked to family and a friend via text messages and a couple phone calls :) , but that was all the interaction with "people." I even stayed off Facebook and email for most of the day, because I knew I couldn't delve into it--too many emotions! It helped just to know people were praying from a distance.

I didn't want to be around many people that day, and we were able to pull it off because we planned a special time for today. We invited some of our close friends and family, along with close friends from Keren's school (her teacher, para-pros, therapists, a couple fellow-parents) to join us at our home for a brunch with the theme of looking back and moving forward. We wanted everyone to come with something in mind of a "lesson" learned this past year (in general--it didn't have to be about Keren), and ways they're going into the future. It turned out beautifully! Only three could come from her school, but it's three of those we've been closest to, and one of Keren's classmates and mom and sib came--another special connection, along with the few close family friends. Our friend Jodi brought Mardi-gras beads that Clare gave to each person as they arrived--another special memory of Keren. We didn't end up having a formal share time (though right at the end someone said, "I didn't get to tell the thing I learned!" so that started a good conversation), but throughout the time there was the ebb and flow of sharing good memories and things we've learned. I can't tell you how great it was to have this to look forward to all month! Today was sunny off and on, too, and we laughed and cried, and grew together. I know we're going to have to have something again--it's just so special to be able to have these friendships! Hmmm.... Next time we'll have to invite more people (hint, hint, Michigan friends :) )....

So, who knows what this year will bring, but this is where God took us to today!

Hmmm....I forgot to take pictures today--that would have been nice to add. I'll have to get some from my Dad :) .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Time, Being What It Is....

...And looking at the date: January 28, 2010.... It's the date I've been watching for the past year, wondering, wondering, wondering.... So here it is, and it is--what? It's a day. It's a date on the calendar, and tomorrow it will be gone (gone forever, if I want to be melodramatic about it), just as the day we lost Keren, January 28, 2009, is gone and will not be repeated. I've read the description of time and days being like pearls slipping by on a string. Or there's the saying Laura Ingalls Wilder quotes in Little Town on the Prairie:
Lost, between sunrise and sunset,
One golden hour, set with sixty diamond minutes.
No reward is offered, for it is gone forever.
Then again, on a lighter note, there's a quote I heard recently: "Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it unrolls."

So whether you look at time as something to be treasured, hoarded (if that were possible), or something whirling by, faster and faster, the truth cannot be avoided: Time passes, and then what is past is over, gone, done with. Ones we've loved go with it, dreams we've had may die--or fade--with it. The people are irreplaceable, though we are blessed with new friends and people to love, and we have memories of those who are gone. The dreams, we pray, are replaced with new, vibrant ones.

I'm as guilty as the next person for trying to hoard time. Over the past year I think I've saved, double-saved and triple-saved family photos because of the lurking fear that some moment may be lost forever. That "this" may be the last picture I have of my kids. I've always hung on to emails and letters because I think that maybe I'll want to look back at it, or need it. It's a way of trying to capture moments in time and hang on to them forever. I've realized that it can become a kind of obsession if I don't sit back and realize the proper perspective: while it's okay to have memories, I can't be held back by them. Time still moves forward, and if I don't take forward steps along with it, I'll never be happy, and I'll never enjoy the fullness of the plans God has for me.

From my perspective, our time with Keren will always seem too short. We had six years, four months, and a day. What is that? Already her life is creating legends in our home as Clare and Ev grapple with questions about Keren: "Why didn't Keren walk?" "Why didn't she talk?" Clare is keen on telling Jonathan things about Keren because "he didn't get to meet her, and he needs to know about her!" I love this, but I also know that what we tell him and what my little girls remember is changed by who we are now. We know there were things that drove us crazy about Keren (constantly getting her to stop poking her eyes or gouge her gums, keeping on top of tube-feedings and doctor appointments, changing bedding and clothes after diaper soak-throughs and spit-ups).... But while we know those things in our heads, the reality of the day-to-day struggle has faded. We really only remember and miss the beauty of a blue-eyed girl with incredible dark lashes, fly-away eyebrows, a squeal that could burst our eardrums and a hug that could crack our bones. Of course, those are the memories that are worth holding. And as for the time her life spanned, I am reminded continually of Psalm 139:16:
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
                   (New Living Translation)
So the time was the right time, and as much as I might not like it, Keren's life had accomplished what it needed to. I have to trust that the God who loves Keren and me infinitely beyond anything I can imagine intends the same for me. That the time He has given me is the time needed to accomplish what He wants for my life. As a result I can quit worrying about everything I'm doing or not doing and wondering if it's "enough." I can't sit around living in the past, wishing things were different and Keren was still here. Instead I want to let Him use me and be willing to do what He asks of me. I need to rest in Him.

And I'm learning to rest in Him.... Because I know that if I'm not where I thought I should be a year from now, a month--even a day, I can still be at peace and have joy, because I know I am where He wants me to be. The lost loved ones, like Keren, are not gone forever and mourned without relief. I can learn from their lives, and as a result grow and help others. The lost dreams are not "dreams deferred;" rather, they are simply memories, sweet trinkets to contemplate and laugh over. And now and then a gem is discovered that I realize will work for just this occasion, and I realize that's why God had me leave it in the box until now.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Miraculous Healing

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the account of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter. I love the picture of a father doing all he can to get to Jesus, to ask him to save his only daughter. And Jesus comes, and he reaches down into death, and he tells the little girl simply to "wake up." As our family's favorite children's devotional, The Jesus Storybook Bible, puts it, "Jesus was making the sad things come untrue. He was mending God's broken world." Michael Card sings about it, too, in "Talitha Koumi," a first-person narrative of Jairus' daughter.
Talitha Koumi
He spoke like a song
Though lifeless and cold
At once I became strong
Talitha Koumi
He spoke with a smile
As he handed my father back
His only child
As I said, this story has always been a favorite of mine, but I'll tell ya, it was hard to hear when Kraig read it to the kids not long after Keren died....

The inevitable question comes. "If Christ is so good at healing, why didn't he heal Keren?" And it's an old, old question, asked by so many. Why didn't God heal Sarah, a fellow mom of a special-needs daughter who died one month before Keren--two months after a cancer diagnosis. Why didn't God heal Ethan, one of Keren's classmates who died last May? Why didn't God heal Aimee, the twenty-five-year-old daughter of family friends, who died on Thursday as a result of a head-on collision caused by another driver cutting into her lane...a driver who survived with few injuries.... Why are thousands upon thousands dying now in Haiti? It doesn't make sense....

I would be lying if I said I didn't ask those questions. I would be lying if I said I had the passing thought that I was too cynical and didn't have enough faith to bring about their healing. But I would also be lying if I said that those questions dragged me down and caused me to doubt God. Because they don't. Because it's an issue that I've realized is much bigger than physical healing.

When Kraig and I learned that Keren would be born with some significant problems, we prayed that the diagnosis might be wrong, but we knew we would keep her, and we knew that we loved her no matter what. When Keren was born with Trisomy 18, we didn't pray that she would be healed of it. How can one be healed of something that's not a disease? We prayed for her health because that could go either way, but her diagnosis was in the genes. It was a part of who she was! Since she died, many have said, "Isn't it wonderful that now she is whole in Heaven?" Now, I believe this to be true.... When I picture her in Heaven, I see her running around, learning everything she can, and probably even talking up a storm. I see her climbing up into Jesus' lap and giving him a bone-cracking hug like the ones she used to give us. Clare and Ev are experts at helping me keep this perspective; remembering the future hope of seeing Keren again.

I understand with my head that those who say this to me say it with complete belief as well, and a deep desire to give me comfort. The only problem is, thinking of Keren whole and healthy in Heaven doesn't really comfort me. It would be kind of like someone saying to Aimee's parents (and I pray no one ever does), "Just think! Aimee is whole and full of life in Heaven. Imagine the struggle she would have had if she'd survived the accident. She might never have been the same vibrant girl again." My mental scream is, "But I want Keren here! I want her healthy here! I don't care that she wasn't 'whole'. She was our Keren-girl, and that is all that matters." My comfort does not lie in the fact that she is "healed" but in that I will see her again.

And that brings me to a different kind of healing, the "miraculous healing," the sad things Jesus made untrue.... It's a truth that has been confirmed to me over and over, and slowly I'm putting the words to it. Recently I've seen it again in Beth Moore's study, Jesus the One and Only, which works through the Gospel of Luke. The first time it struck me was in a discussion of the people bringing Jesus their sick in Luke 4:38-44. There were so many of them, and they kept coming and coming. Jesus knew he had to leave, yet they tried to keep him there. The word "keep," Beth says is "'katecho,' meaning to 'hold fast, retain, or hold down, quash, suppress."
The people's attempts to hold onto Christ may not have been limited to the vocal and emotional. They may have hung onto Him physically, too. How His heart must have broken for them. I believe He may have been torn emotionally, but He was not dissuaded. The best thing he could do for them was to stay true to His goal. (p. 63)
And what was his goal? "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent" (Luke 4:43). And why was preaching the good news of the kingdom more important than healing all those people? Because the kingdom is permanent and spreading the news about it was Christ's top priority. And I realized that if I believed that (which I do), then the fact that he let Keren die and didn't heal her meant that it would help in spreading this news. It is the only answer that makes sense.

A few lessons later I came to the story of the paralytic man whose friends let him down through a roof so he'd get face-time with Jesus. A phrase in the passage jumped out at me this time--one that I hadn't seen before: "And the power of the Lord was present for [Jesus] to heal the sick" (Luke 5:17b) Huh? What did that mean? Were there times Jesus didn't have the power? That didn't make sense! Sure enough, Beth brought this point out and gradually unwound it. The Greek word for "power" used here is "'dunamis' meaning 'power, especially achieving power'" in contrast to another word used at times, "ischus" which means "power, strength, or might." The idea is that "dunamis" refers to what God does while "ischus" is what God has and is. Beth says:
I hope you caught the inference that Christ was ready and willing to apply his ischus to specifically achieve (dunamis) healing that day. Christ healed many times, but the implication is that healing was a far more specific agenda in certain instances. We can break it down this way: Christ is always willing. Sometimes He is more than willing--He is utterly resolved." (p. 70)
And what healing was Jesus "utterly resolved" to do? Here's where it became really interesting.... The passage had already set up the context: That day Pharisees and teachers of the law from all over had come to hear Jesus teach, and as the King James Version then translates immediately after this: "and the power of the Lord was present to heal them." "Them," not "the sick" as the New International Version puts it. In fact, the Greek word used is autos, meaning "self...the same" so definitely referring to these teachers of the law...who were not physically sick. As Beth states it, "Christ hadn't just come to heal those who were physically sick. He came to heal those who were sick with sin!" And as the passage unfolds, and the paralytic is put before Jesus, the first thing Jesus does is forgive the man his sins. Only later, to show the Pharisees that he has the authority to do just that does Jesus give the man physical healing. The sickness of sin was/is zillions of times greater than any physical disability....

I was bowled over by this because it spoke to me again so powerfully the truth that I've been learning this past year. God loves us and longs to be reunited with us so much that He sent Jesus to earth to rescue us. Yes, Jesus physically healed many. Yes, Jesus took Jairus' daughter by the hand and brought her out of death. Yes, there have been many instances of people being healed miraculously even these days. But not all are physically healed, and if Christ's primary purpose was/is to physically heal then he's done a lousy job.

But if, rather, his purpose is to heal the hearts of the whole world, to rescue us from sin, and that his death and resurrection made the way for that, and all I have to do is believe that yes, this is indeed why he came, then his purpose has been fully accomplished. It also means that when he physically heals it's to help people see this purpose...and when he doesn't physically heal, it's also for this purpose. Keren's death, Aimee's death...they are pieces of this amazing, incredible purpose. In an article I read today about Aimee's death, her Pastor is quoted as saying that Aimee "recently wrote that she finally felt settled for the first time in her life. She described it as wonderful, but felt God would soon bring change and she put her trust in Him. 'If you summed up Aimee's life, that's what she did. She pointed others to Jesus,'" her pastor said.

I wish I knew why Keren and Aimee (...and Sarah, and Ethan, etc., etc.) weren't ones God chose to heal--why it was that their lives and deaths were ones He chose to help point people toward His Son. I don't know why our families are the ones who were asked to hold this particular grief. But the key point is this: since I do know the Healer, I can help others find the miraculous healing He provides.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gray Day

It's a good thing that I didn't try to write earlier today or there would have been an ocean of thoughts pouring out that at other times I would consider "unpublishable"! But there was no time to write, and there was time for a nap (angels rejoicing), and as a result my thoughts have receded to little burbles in a brook instead of a flash flood. I sometimes envy people who seem to feel free to write all that raw emotion down for everyone to see, but then I think better of it and know that I will only ever write some of that stuff (and not even all of that!) down in a hard-copy journal, the good ol' fashioned way.

Today was a gray day, which was part of my problem earlier--and not just "a" gray day; it's been gray like this for days now, that dull, almost-foggy gray that winter gets when there's some snow that's trying to melt because it's not cold enough to be crisp and refreshing. Blah. Double-blah. I suppose I should be thankful that there is some snow as opposed to "lovely" Michigan no-snow winter days that are gray sky and brown grass and mud.... Why do people prefer that to snow? I'll never understand!

But yeah, the constant gray didn't help my mood. Then there's the continual self-analyzing that's been going on in my head as to how exactly I'm feeling right now, and am I going to crash and become a blubbering mass at any moment, or will I continue in this slightly disembodied state...and what if I do stay in the latter state and all my friends and family think that I'm an unemotional automaton who really couldn't have loved Keren much because I'm not even crying about her. (Yes, I know that's  a flawed self-analysis, but I just wanted to show where my brain was at). It hasn't helped that I think I have a touch of some sort of cold--just enough to feel slightly off, but not more than that. I can't say, "I'm sick," because I'm not really; just not 100%. I snapped the girls' heads off a few times this morning and was kicking myself around about that.

In the end, though, it was a good day--mostly because all three kids took a nap at the same time, and long ones at that, long enough for me to lie down and close my eyes and wake up before any of them. And the sun broke through as I was falling asleep, so that even though it was gray again when I got up, I knew the sun had been there warming my back for a bit. It was such an evident touch of God. Even when I'm all caught up in me He shows me He's there, loving me. And you know, I sensed that a little bit this afternoon, but I didn't realize it completely till I wrote it just now.

I'm glad I ended up writing this gray day. Thank you, Lord, for holding me, muddled brain and all!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unplubishable Thoughts and Everyday Life

The blessing and the curse of a blog is that it has the potential of being read by one or more persons (particularly when it's set to automatically post on the newsfeed of Facebook friends!). There is definitely a lot to be said for the thrill of knowing that my words have gone "out there" and I may get feedback, and who knows, maybe one thing I say will have eternal impact on a reader. But the flipside is, I'm always conscious of my possible audience, and as a result, my thoughts are edited....

Granted, most of my thoughts aren't worth printing anyway. They are the hodge-podge of the everyday, the human heart, and need to be muddled through between me and God before I should even think of airing them to any but my nearest and dearest. If I were writing in a pen-and-paper journal, I could pour out the muddle, and then ponder it and perhaps sort things out more. Time being what it is these days, though, I'm more likely to write here where the bit of feedback I get is an inspiration to write more....

So I guess it's all in my purpose for writing in the first place, huh?

This week was one of those weeks of dichotomy, where my brain has been running on various tracks ranging from the deep ("Am I letting God work through this issue in me?") to the light ("Jonathan looks adorable in pastels...I bet he would look better than any of the girls did in pink!" ...Don't worry, I won't do that to him!), and life has been trucking along at its breakneck pace.

Here's a sampling:

We had our REAL moms (formerly MOPS) meeting Friday morning, the first of this semester, so the week started off with a Leadership Team meeting that covered a ton of material--good, thorough, and exhausting. We've been working to find our stride this year with our new name, and new coordinator (oh wait, that's me!). We want so much to be able to reach the women in our community and be an encouragement to them, and sometimes it gets discouraging to see that the group is smaller than it was a few years ago. A lot of this has to do with the economy, but one always continues to look at the issue and think, "What can we do better to connect with our moms?" I love the fact that this ministry has been such a strong one at our church, and the team is continually one of moms who really have the heart for it. When I started in the group about six years ago, I wondered if I would ever feel connected with the other moms. I only had Keren, and she was anything but the "typical" two-year-old. But over the years, the bonds were formed, and when I stepped into the coordinator role last summer, I realized how much God had been opening my heart to fellow moms. But with that vested interest comes the battling of personal demons--"What if I botch it?"--and the counter of, "You know what, it's really not about you! If it's God's ministry (which it is), He'll take care of it!" Got to focus on the latter....

In other news, Kraig and I were able to cement the plan for our event for remembering Keren and I got an evite sent out this week. I wish I could have sent it to a ton more people, near and far, because so many have been an intimate part of our journey this past year. But it seemed important to focus primarily on our connections at Old Village, Keren's school. We're planning a light brunch at our house with a theme of  "Looking Back, Moving Forward." We're remembering Keren and how much we learned, and are still learning, from her life. More than that, though, we want to hear what's been going on in the lives of those around us--how God has been at work in stretching and growing them. Hmmm.... So much to talk about there; I'll save that for other posts.

...And there were the other events of the week.... Clare's preschool, time with friends, a Gideons' dinner, taking down the Christmas tree, skyping Grandma and Grandpa (Kraig's folks). All the little details of life that put a week together. Amazing how God can work throughout all these things, and help me become more of what He desires me to be. At least that's my prayer!

Enough rambling. That's my publishable update for now!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Snow Hill Morning

There's a hill at a park near us that is one of the few good sledding hills in this flat part of Michigan. I have many memories of zipping down this hill, but I haven't been there in the winter for years now. So when my bro-in-law asked us if we'd like to join him and his boys for a sledding morning, we jumped at it. Like everything in life these days, the hill is more restricted: there's a list of "sledding rules," there are two return points cordoned off, and at the base of the hill is a slight bank so you can't shoot off into the creek at the bottom (not that anyone has sleds these days that could actually make it that far!). Despite these "safety measures" it is still a great place for families to come and get a good thrill ride...if you can convince your children that that's really what it is!

As you can see, Clare was not completely convinced. She is our true tentative child; I'd say firstborn, except that she isn't; but because Keren's limitations were what they were, Clare migrated into the firstborn role in many ways. Kraig and I are thinking we'll term her our "fircond" or maybe our "secirst."

Her cousin, Eli, is definitely a tentative firstborn; while little brother Sim is the adventurer. Here they are before their first run--before they decided they'd had quite enough, thank you, and "Daddy, we want to go home now!" Actually, they liked the going down part--it was the coming up part that wasn't something they wanted to repeat (but then, who does?).
Our "thircond" (or is it "secird") daughter (can you figure that one out?), Ev, is more like Sim in her adventurousness, and she was ready to roll. Not so thrilled with the actual rolling when she did tumble off her sled once, but even then she came back for more.

You can see her on her little red sled just right of center.

After her first run on the big hill, Clare was quite willing to stand at the top and watch...and throw snow....
Eventually she and I took one more slide down the big hill, mostly because we wouldn't let her get off with just one run, but that was it. A few minutes later, though, we discovered a much smaller hill beside the big one. We did have to set a guard (Kraig and Jon) down at the bottom, because on this hill one actually could run into a tree, or the road.... Everyone going down this hill learned good bailing techniques.

Despite the formidable base, since the hill itself was so much smaller, Clare decided sledding could be fun after all, and she, Uncle Kris, and Eli were off and running. Ev took a few more runs, too.


I think the one that surprised me most this morning was Jon-boy. I kind of expected that I would end up hibernating in the car with him. Instead he cooed and smiled, all bundled in his snowsuit, and eventually Kraig cocooned him in his jacket where the boy took a long snooze. Go figure! I wonder what this says about his personality (besides the fact that he is an adorable, well-tempered baby, and on his way to being thoroughly spoiled? :) )
All in all, it was a beautiful morning on the snow hill, and nice to start our own family tradition of enjoying it.

....And zipping down the hill is still as exciting now as it was umpteen years ago!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

January Snow

Today it's snowing like the day Keren died. It's falling steadily, silently, cloaking the world in white. I've been dreading this day. Not that it's the first snow storm since she died--there were a few like it last winter. But this is the first for us here, this winter. I wasn't sure what I'd feel. I remember that day and how it hit me then that the snow was falling like the day my grandfather died--also in January.

But I'm not struck down by grief looking at it right now. It's so still, so quiet, so beautiful. I love it as I've always loved watching snow fall. The world seems to hold its breath, waiting to see what will come of it all.... We get so few moments of silence nowadays; it's nice to have the enforced pause.

I think that after all I am glad it was a day like today that Keren slipped away from here. It's a day of anticipation. Spring lies in wait.

Breakfast Theology

You never know where a conversation with kids will take you.... Of course, Kraig and my family would argue that that's true of any conversation with me; one tangent jumps to a seemingly unrelated tangent (though in my mind there's always a connection!). But that's beside the point. The point is how amazing it is that a random conversation with my kids can warp at light speed into a theological point.

This morning Clare and Ev were singing "Rock-a-bye, Baby," and Clare wanted to know what a "bough" was. When they found out it meant "branch" they started singing the song using "branch" instead of "bough" and that led me (okay, yes, past English teacher here) to pointing out the difference between connotation and denotation--why "branch" creates a different mental picture than "bough" and the sound of the word in the mouth fits better in the song, etc. "You know," I reminded Clare, "how we've talked about how 'big' means the same as 'giant', but when we talk about David and Goliath, it's one thing to say Goliath was big, but you get a totally different picture when you say he was huge."

All right, so that was me leaping to another point. But Clare, being her mother's daughter, jumped to the next one. She wanted to know how David who was so small could kill Goliath, and that took us to the point that God helped him, and God can help us do amazing things when we let him. We didn't go much farther on that tangent because Clare wanted to know why Veggie Tales stories are about God. I explained that they were stories and points from the Bible, and it's one way to help people learn about God. "Everything we do in life should be based on things we know from the Bible," I said (more or less; definitely not so clearly). "Mommy and Daddy try to live by this, and when we ask you to do things it's because we want you to do that too. It'll help you become everything Jesus wants you to be." (And like I said, this was not stated so concisely; it wandered a bit over seconds on pancakes. I was thinking, too, that this is a point I need to continually learn. There are certainly many times when I'm demanding something of my kids (even good things), not because I'm living in the spirit of God working through me to help them grow, but out of frustration and anger that they aren't obeying!

In an ideal, unfallen world, Clare and Ev would have taken these "Breakfast Devotions" and immediately internalized them and begun to live them out.... But the reality is that we've had conversations like this many times in the past, and I know we'll continue, and in the meantime they'll go off and often beat each other over the head trying to get their own way on things. And I'll keep struggling with my desire to lord myself over them. But through it all, too, as I'm having these conversations with them, I'm reminded of theological truths that I need to make a part of my every moment, and to let God work them out through me. Because really, as Junior in "Dave and the Giant Pickle" sings, the challenges are "big, but God's bigger" and the results can be amazing.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Turning of the Year

Kraig and I quietly said good-bye to 2009, and hello to 2010 the other night. I suppose the evening wasn't all quiet. We did a VeggieTales show with the girls, then put them and Jonathan down so we could have our own time. I made one of our not-letting-the-kids-in-on-it-yet favorites: homemade Alfredo sauce with sun-dried tomatoes, steamed broccoli and mushrooms--ahhh! :) I'd splurged for dessert on some Ben and Jerry's ice cream and we ate and zoned, watching the newest Star Trek movie. Thoroughly enjoyable evening! We didn't try to watch the ball drop or anything like that--just watched the clock turn over at midnight and called it a day, and a year. 

And what a year.... Though in some ways I don't feel like the year has ended yet. There is one date that is looming on my calendar, which this year to me will be "The End": January 28. I don't know what to think of it, or this month. I don't want to look forward to it with dread like I did Keren's birthday back in September.... It seemed that all of September and October I walked around with a hard lump in my chest. I don't feel like that right now--haven't since the end of October. I don't know why. I haven't tried to analyze when and how the emotions come, knowing that grief has always been like ocean waves for me, ebbing and flowing. 

But what will this month be like? I want to plan something for that weekend after the 28th, something particularly for folks from Old Village, and maybe more. I have this seedling idea of making it a day to look back at what God has done this past year, look at the amazing things that have happened, and look forward to see what He might do in the year to come. I want to keep remembering Keren, but in such a way that I'm focusing on the positive (to be cliche about it). Clare and Ev have helped me a lot there with their constant looking toward heaven when they talk about Keren. "Maybe Keren is doing this!" they say about little adventures in their own lives. Or, "When we get to heaven we'll play hide and seek with Keren in her new house." Or, "Maybe Keren and Ethan are climbing trees right now," or "giving Jesus a hug." These are the pictures I'm given over and over, and they constantly remind me that I will see Keren again and that in the meantime God has a lot going on in my life, and Keren's life and death are a part of that.... 

But will I be hit with overwhelming grief again? That's what I can't think about because it is so unknown. Kraig and I haven't had much chance to talk about it recently. I think we shy away from the topic a bit; or I shy away because I feel like my feelings and perspective right now are too bright for him to handle. That his grief is running deep there, and while he is completely trusting God in all this (I have no doubt of that), he's not willing to air his thoughts as freely as me, and so not wanting to have an "event" or anything like that. 

Anyway, that's where I'm at with the turning of this year. Kraig has said a number of times how thankful he is that 2009 was ending. It sure didn't start well, and I haven't enjoyed the grief, but there have been amazing bits of joy, too, like Jonathan's birth and watching the girls grow. We talked about that. Then there's the unknown of even this month--not just for us, but family as Kraig's grandma is deteriorating rapidly. Will we lose her this month? When it comes down to it, I agree with Kraig: January is a horrible time to start a new year, whether it's the first or the 28th. I think I'll go with Kraig's idea for my year turnover: Easter. Why not celebrate the beginning of a new year at the Resurrection? Sounds much better to me!

So, for the moment, there hasn't been a turning of this year for me.