May 20, 2010

"You don't need to be afraid. God is with us!"

It doesn't sound nearly as sweet in a title, but if you could have heard Sophia wandering all through the house yesterday, telling everyone in sight the same words, I'm absolutely sure it would have made you smile.

"Mom, we don't need to be afraid.  God is with us."

"Noah, you don't need to be afraid.  God is with us.  He's everywhere."

"Phoebe, it's ok.  You don't need to be afraid; God is with us."  (Never mind that Phoebe's crying had more to do with wanting to sleep than anything else.)

What brought on her non-stop reminders?  Thunder.  It was a beautiful, perfect, mid-day mountain thunderstorm.  We've had several already this spring, and the only thing different about this one was that it happened right at lunch time, when we were all awake and attentive, rather than cowering in bed with every thunder-induced tremble.

We had actually walked over to preschool to pick Sophia up at the end of her day.  The first crash came just around the corner from home.  The first sprinkles began to fall just as we rolled the stroller into the garage.  We fled to the safety of the house, as Sophia began her repetitions and Noah eventually took his hands off his ears.  I opened up the front door and brought the kids to the screen door to watch the magic.
The conversation went something like this:

Me:  "Who makes the thunder?"
Kids:  "GOD!"
Me:  "What's something we make?"
Sophia:  "Macaroni and cheese."
Me:  "Are we afraid of macaroni and cheese?"
Sophia:  "NO!  That'd be so silly!"
Me:  "Well, I'm sure God's not afraid of the thunder because He made it.  And so I don't think we need to be afraid either."

Now, I just need to keep reminding myself of the same thing!  With all the crazy things that have been happening around us lately, I've caught glimpses of a spirit of fear beginning to take hold of me.  That's not a feeling I am accustomed to.  It's new to me, and I am quite certain I can do without it.  I've been praying that very thing lately.  And maybe, if I just keep repeating it often enough, like Sophia, it won't be long before I begin to feel it in the same way that she did in the midst of the thunderstorm!

May 16, 2010


**Editor's note: Please pardon in advance the rambling.  I might be bordering on the brink of verbal diarrhea.   Something within me is begging to be let out, and I've been more than anxious to write and blog all weekend.  The problem is that I am not exactly sure what it is that is so desperate to come out.**

I spent the better part of the last couple of days immersing myself in the story of Audrey Caroline.  I am sure that name means nothing to most of you, so let me give you a brief history.  You may or may not have heard of the Christian music group Selah.  I'll be honest, until yesterday, I couldn't name a single one of their songs.  A friend from high school sent me a link to download this book I Will Carry You (Selah song title #1) by Angie Smith.  I subbed on Friday, so I figured I'd download the book and give myself something to do in the few spare minutes between my classes.

Next thing I knew, I was drawn in (and when I say drawn in, I mean glued to, riveted, couldn't be pried away with a crowbar of epic proportions) to the story.  At 18 weeks pregnant, Angie discovered there was something wrong with her baby, and she had several conditions that were not viable with life.  Predictably, Angie was counseled to terminate her pregnancy.  Believing in the God who is the Author and Finisher of all life, Todd and Angie made the decision to carry the baby as long as God would allow.  Audrey Caroline was born at 32 gestational weeks and lived for just a few short hours.  I Will Carry You chronicles Angie's walk through the diagnosis, life, and death of her daughter.  "Bring the Rain" is the blog she started days after learning of her daughter's condition and overlaps much of what she tells in her book.

I'm a pretty skeptical reader, and I don't like to waste my time with frivolous reading.  It's okay if you judge me for those thoughts, I am fully aware of my faults and fully acknowledge my snobbish literary tendencies.  So it's not often that I say a book has changed my life.

But the way I have wrestled with my overwhelming emotions upon finishing I Will Carry You almost scares me.  As a mother, reading this book has struck nerves I didn't know existed and left them raw and bleeding.  I have been rocked to my core.

I don't know how public I have been about the fact that the only thing I really remember wanting to do with my life is be a stay home mom.  I remember sharing that with a friend way back in junior high and my dearest and best friend looked at me like I was from planet Mars and had a third eyeball embedded in my forehead.  How dare I live in this modern age and not have any hopes and dreams of being a professional career woman?

I have been living my dream for the last 4, almost 5 years, and have LOVED, let me repeat LOVED, nearly every moment of those nearly 36,000 hours.  I have found my calling.  Nothing else I have ever done has felt so right, so purposeful, so meaningful or so spiritual.  I love everything about being a mother.  I love being pregnant.  I love giving birth.  I love holding my newborn babes.  I love the first smiles.  You get the picture.  But I also love the hard stuff- most of the time.  Middle of the night feedings.  Discipline.  The supposed terrible 2's.  The craziness of 3 kids young enough that none of them are in school (although sometimes I think that spending all day with Mom-who-used-to-be-a-teacher is far more "school" than the public education system typically provides).

In my time as a stay-home mom, I have known joy that I can't put into words.  I have discovered that God DID actually provide me the capabilities to feel compassion (for a long time, I thought I was missing any trace of those genes).  I have loved, laughed, and learned like I never dreamed.  And I have known that I am exactly where the Lord desires me to be.  There is nothing on this earth that I would rather do than teach and raise my kids to know and fear the Lord.

But in reading this book throughout the course of this weekend, I have felt something stirring inside of me.  I don't even know how to begin to explain it.  I have shared this book with just a few people in the last couple of days, and they have all made the assumption that the story resonates with me because of our miscarriage.  In reality, after reading this, I realized I know nothing about the loss of a child.  Nothing.  Especially in comparison to this story.

I have cried and mourned the loss of Audrey as if she and her family were close friends of mine.  I cried so hard I had to put the book down.  More than once.  My eyes hurt.  My head hurt.  I wanted to stop reading.  I couldn't.  ('Member that whole couldn't pry me away with a crowbar bit?)  I am not sure that I have ever hurt so deeply as I did in the last couple of days.  Crazy.  I don't know these people.  They live in Nashville.  I've never even been there.  But I ACHED for them.  The weekend passed me by because I was caught up in this tragedy from the other side of the country two years ago.  I am telling you, I have NEVER felt like this before.

Why did this story hit me so hard?  What am I supposed to do with this?
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