Thursday, December 24, 2009

happy times...

really did happen around here this month. And although I am saddened for those of us left behind, I am rejoicing for my aunt, my dad and many other loved ones who will celebrate Christmas with the Holy One.

We went to a Christmas parade early in the month that my nephew was in with his cub scout troop. Unfortunately I didn't get a single unfuzzy picture of him, but we sure had fun while we watched and waited. The kids collected more candy than at halloween.

We also celebrated Elijah's 7th birthday. We had his first sleep over. We had pizza, popcorn and cake {of course}! Elijah and I had a date during the day on his birthday {Burger and strolling at Eastchase by his request}. Here's a cool picture he took:
Miles "helped" me make the cake. And helped me lick the bowl! Yummy!
The cake was decorated to Elijah's specifications.
I can hardly believe he's seven.
Then, just last week, Miles and Ella had their preschool Christmas pageant. Here's Miles with his beloved Miss Sally {I want to hire her at our homeschool!} dressed as a handsome shepherd. He even sang the songs, because he'll do anything for Miss Sally!
Ella on the other hand, loves the spot light. She was too cute on stage with her little friends. It was so precious to hear them sing:

Bells are ringing, Children singing
Christmas is here! Christmas is here!
Happy birthday Jesus! Happy birthday Jesus!
We love you! We love you!

And then to awake the next day to her singing that.

And this last one is here just because I love it. It was taken at Thanksgiving. After the tough year that we've had {with this economy and losing my aunt}, I am amazed and grateful that God gave this wonderful man to me to walk beside. God has brought us through so much, has taught us new lessons, has strengthened our faith, has brought us nearer to Him while promising to never let us go. We are in awe of His great love for us.Read from Romans 8:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whok]"> have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. {28-29}

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? {31-32}

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,m]">neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. {37-39}

We wish all of you a very merry Christmas! "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the sun is peeking out

I am so thankful that the sun has decided to make an appearance this morning. It's been a gloomy several days, in more ways than one. Last Thursday night, I held my aunt's hand as she took her last breath of this life. She was my dad's sister, and although they are now together again, their baby sister is here without them. It's very sad.

Rheba was diagnosed almost 14 years ago with Stage 4 Ovarian cancer. She should not have survived it, but she did. For nine years, she was cancer free and then just before my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she found that her's had returned. So, for four years now, she has fought and had treatment after treatment after treatment. Her cancer numbers were down. She was going to have a break from chemotherapy. Then she had a necessary surgery, that she was expected to recover from. Instead, her body started to shut down. She was just worn out. And her Father started to call her Home.

I'm very grateful to have been able to spend time with her in the hospital, particularly those last two days, which while difficult, also held a distinct beauty. I sang to her, read scripture to her, and told her I loved her. She also rolled her eyes at me several times, which makes me smile now. See, I know there are those that believe we didn't pray hard enough or with enough faith. That if we had, God would have healed Rheba to stay here on earth. I adamantly disagree with that stand. Could God have healed her in the state she was in? Absolutely. She had 14 years more than statistics gave her. The Truth is this: God did heal her, in the most amazing and wonderful way. He called her Home. And by His very hands He healed her as He wiped away her every tear. She is completely and irrevocably healed. And I am praising Him for that. Am I sad? Yes, very. But I am rejoicing for my aunt who will never again fight cancer.

God's word tells us that death is truly a good thing:

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9

Did you see that? We are confident... and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. Seems quite clear to me that the death that so many fear and want to be kept from by (their own) faith or by healing, is actually what we were made for. When we live our lives for Jesus, accepting Him as our Lord, we work to glorify Him while we are here, but the truth is that we don't belong here. Rheba has been "swallowed up by life." I take comfort in that.

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same."
C.S. Lewis

So, the sun is peeking out. While the sadness remains, and will remain as I have learned, the Son reminds me of a hope that will not disappoint. The hope of a forever life in our true country.

My friend Jon sang this song with me at the Celebration of Life service we had for Rheba on Monday. Thanks again to Jon, Brandon and Allison for singing with me. I'll never forget it and could never have done it without you.

Friday, December 4, 2009

my first little love isn't so little anymore.

He's 7 today. Seven. Seems kinda old for my baby. Evidently that means he's not a baby anymore, but all you mommas out there know the truth - he'll always be my baby. I just can't tell him so anymore. {That doesn't make it any less true, though!}

We took the day off from school today and after leaving Miles and Ella at preschool, we had a birthday date. Just the two of us. His choice? "Burger King and taking strolls at EastChase." We also managed to throw a few minutes at Books A Million in there, where Elijah befriended a grandmotherly type lady {don't report me, I was right there with him!} and told her of all things his 7th birthday and his favorite books and movies. I seriously need to teach him more about stranger danger. What's the line between preparing them and making them paranoid? And he's so friendly. He reminds me a lot of my dad. He could strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. That skill obviously skipped a generation.

While thinking about Elijah's 7 years, and all that has happened and wondering what is to come, I am reminded {gratefully so} of a scripture I found a few days ago:

But as for me, I trust in you, O Lord, I say, "You are my God. My times are in your hand." Psalm 31:14-15

Nothing that will happen in Elijah's future is outside of God's knowing about it. Nothing is even out of His hand. That is a hope that will not disappoint. No matter what.

Father, I praise you for having our times in your hand. Thank you for my Elijah. Thank you for the hope he already has in You. I know you, Who loves my child more than I can fathom {he's your's after all}, will lead him all the way. Hold his heart. I give you praise and glory for all that You are and all that You do. Now and forever. In the worthy name of Jesus.
Elijah's momma