Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Week 3 - A Father's Joy

Sometimes it is so hard to pray. Sometimes it is so hard to sing songs of praise to God. My heart is just angry at times, but when I come running back, God always has his arms wide open for me. Noah's ability to praise God despite his feelings always helps to push me towards God because he doesn't allow his feelings to interrupt what he is called to do. At first watching his strength made me feel guilty that I wasn't the same, but slowly I have realized that I will get my strength back. Hope does exist. And I know that as I wrestle with God's purpose for my life and my heartache it will only draw me closer to him.

A good book to make you realize that you are the prodigal's other son too is Tim Keller's The Prodigal God. Honestly, I need to go reread that book too. It is a new way to show the hope of Christ for those that have kept morality to a higher standard than their relationship with God.

My prayer is that I will continue to run to God hoping that I will stay there without fear and in spite of (and because of) my broken heart.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Week 3

Our passage to meditate on during week 3.

Psalm 103:13-14
"As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust."

I heard a song on the radio where the singer asks God to bring on the rain so that if that is what is needed for us to be able to praise him, then, bring it. That song aggravates me. I have no idea who the singer is, but I want to call them up and ask, "Have you ever lost a child?" This is one of the floods that he is praying for in his song. If the singer knew what could be thrown at him, would he continue to pray it in that way? This past week a deceitful heart has been on the tip of my tongue in so many conversations. We know that God is faithful and that through our pain he is glorified, but our hearts go through times of true struggling because they hurt so badly. My mind has to comfort my heart with what I know to be true. I know that God was glorified through Magdalena's life, but my heart wishes that he could have done it another way, any other way. I would have gladly let him take my life instead of hers. During my most heart breaking times I screamed out to God for mercy on my sweet, baby girl. I know that this was a time of growing of me spiritually, but really, did he have to make it flood in order to get my attention? I think that I was in denial when it came time to let Magdalena go. The night before she passed away I cried out to God to please give us more time, and through my tears I pleaded again for mercy. Even through this heart breaking time of prayer, God was glorified because I knew that only healing could come from him. If he had chosen to heal her, he would have reached out his hand, but he had chosen his plans for her long before that prayer was uttered. God used Magdalena to bring people to their knees because nothing can break a heart more than a sick child and parents who have to say goodbye to their child on earth. So many people prayed for her. He heard our cries, but it was not in his master plan for her to be healed. However, through those prayers I felt God's closeness, even when I was too weak to pray, and when I did pray, it was truly powerful. They were never superficial words but ones that my heart truly felt. I never put on a show and acted like I was fine because God heard my anger in pain throughout all that I have had and continue to have to say.

Even now, I do not pray as I ought to, and I know that it is a disciplined thing that can grow further my relationship with God. There are many caddy reasons why I don't spend time in prayer as much as I should, but I do think that God is still dealing with my heart. He is continuing to mold me through my pain, and these growing pains have not made me jump up and down thanking God for them, but I do have to thank God for the blessings that he gives to sustain me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Butterflies Everywhere

With spring here there are flowers and bright colors everywhere I go. Magdalena would have loved the spring. She would have loved to have looked around at the flowers and been outside during this beautiful weather. She would have loved it, and that is what I have been thinking about daily since this weather change has begun. And since I think of her every time that I see a butterfly, butterflies are everywhere. I see people wearing them on their shirt, shoes, necklaces, and they are everywhere in Target right now. I can't help but wonder if the people know what they symbolize and mean, or are they wearing them just because it is nice. I would have been the latter before Magdalena, but now, if you see a butterfly or something pink near me it was intentional. It helps me to carry her with me wherever I go.
Easter is always a bittersweet time for us because we know that it is on this day that we celebrate that we will be able to see Magdalena again. Jesus did not remain dead, but he arose so that we could have life with him in heaven. But I know that just hearing Magdalena's name on Easter morning makes me think of her and how she is no longer with us. It is undeniable that I will hear her name because Mary Magdalene (Magdalena is her name in Spanish) was the first to see Jesus when he arose. I know that God gave her that name for a purpose, and when Noah and I chose it we didn't know that it would be that she would be the first of us to see Jesus.
It is my selfish heart that aches and cries for Magdalena on these days because I know that these should be the biggest day of celebration for her. It is just so hard to remember that when my heart aches so much that I could cry for days. Crying doesn't mean that I am without hope though, it is just my time to be able to release my longings to hold her right now.

John 16:11-20
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

"The higher the mountains, the more understandable is the glory of Him who made them and who holds them in His hand." - Francis Schaeffer

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Little Man of 6 Months

Walt will turn 6 months in just a few days, and today he got his check-up with 4 shots. He weighs 15 and a half pounds. As usual he smiled and flirted the entire time he went for his check-up. My sweet little man is growing up, and it is already so hard to let go.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week 2 - Reflection

Please spend the today and tomorrow on reflection and meditation on the following that Nancy has written for us, and then we will begin Week 3 on Friday, March 26th.

Remove distractions from your crowded mind, and ask Jesus to reveal himself to you as a Man of Sorrows.

Enjoy his companionship in the loneliness of your grief.

Experience the comfort of Jesus, a worthy companion in sorrow.

Let him love you, and love him in return.

See him struggle with and submit to God's perfect plan that includes suffering, and seek to follow his example.

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God. So even though Jesus was God's son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. - Hebrews 5:7-8

As you read through these verses, picture Jesus praying and pleading with his Father. See his tears and hear his cries.

Allow yourself to feel the companionship of Jesus in your tears, in your submission to God's plan, and in your obedience to God's instruction.

Praise God for his perfect plan of redemption that included the suffering and death of his Son.

Thank God for his tears of compassion and shared sorrow for those he loves who grieve.

Intercede for those facing the ultimate tragedy over the rejection of God's love and the refusal to repent.

Confess your own struggle to accept God's plan that has caused you pain.

Petition God to fill you with his Spirit so that you can forgive those who have abandoned you in your time of sorrow and suffering.

Week 2 - Wrestling with God's Plan

Hebrews 5: 7-8 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Nancy asks us to look at Hebrews 4:14-5:10 and consider the good things that resulted from God's plan and to list the benefits.
I continue to struggle with God's plan because all of the things that came out of my loss does not replace Magdalena. I would give anything to hold her and to know what she would like like right now as a 20 month old little girl.
So answering this exact question is tough for me. I do know that when we came to terms with the fact that God had not healed Magdalena, we began to pray for other things, which He gave us. He gave us the gift of time to be able to bring her home and create uncountable memories. I do know that God has and will continue to do great things through her life. It is hard for me to recognize myself in old pictures. My face is the same, but I don't know who that person is anymore. When Magdalena died I was forever changed into someone else, and even now as a mother of a son, he continues to mold me. God willing I will see the fruits of Magdalena's short life in the future, and if not here on this earth, I know that she has crowns to fit her princess personality up there in heaven.

Week 2 - The Greatest Tragedy

Luke 13:1-5

I cannot imagine the pain of losing Magdalena without the hope of Christ. Although my emotions have been far from perfect, I have always been reminded of and comforted by the fact that she is being held by Jesus. That he took away the pain she had while on this earth, healed her, and calls her his own. For those who have the passing of a loved one who didn't know Christ or have Christ for comfort themselves, that is the greatest tragedy.

Today my heart has been heavy for a special friend of mine who has truly suffered in ways that are unimaginable to me. Why would do this to such a godly person? Why would he take someone who constantly praises his name and goes far beyond what normal society does to tell others about Him? Why??? So many truths came to me about our God being merciful, and how he is our comfort and our shield. It doesn't say that he fulfills these descriptions in a way that we want or expect, and slowly my mind began to wrap around what God has in store for this friend's future. Something amazing is going to come out of this tragedy because if this can happen to a normal person and they live a mediocre life, just imagine what will happen for someone who truly has hope. This was a great tragedy, and I will continue to shed tears, and I know that when my heart is heavy that I need to pray for this friend, but this is NOT the greatest tragedy because God will be glorified despite how grim the circumstances may seem because my friend is a child of God.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Week 2 - Crushed with Grief

I was 22 weeks pregnant during the spring break 2 years ago, and it was on that Friday I found out Magdalena had Trisomy 18. I knew that I was supposed to receive the results that day, and I started off the afternoon calling the doctor to get them. Each time that I called, the nurse took my message, and it wasn't until after my second or third time of calling she put me on hold. When she returned, she said that the doctor was calling me after hours, which would be around five o'clock. Again, I waited. Everyone in my family waited. I "knew" that I was going to hear that she had Down's Syndrome. The doctor called, and I don't remember all that he said, but he was trying to explain that Magdalena had something she would not survive. The worst case scenario that he had given me when we got the amniocentesis done came to pass. The rest of the evening is a total blur to me. I don't even remember how I told Noah or when I did. I know that I called Lori, and she told the family. How she did this, I don't know. Noah was at work, and I am again uncertain about how much time passed before someone came to be with me. I couldn't just sit down and weep. I had a recipe that had been hanging on my fridge for awhile, and I began to make it with my mom helping me. Lori and Stephen began to rearrange my wall hangings. We were all together, but I couldn't yet face what was before me. I feared what lied ahead with my daughter and the burden I knew that I would bear. My dreams for Magdalena were crushed with just one phone call. I know that I went "crazy" for a short period of time trying to hang on to my sanity, and maybe that is why that time period is so vague to me because I was just barely hanging on.

It wasn't until later that my grief came down heavily upon me, and came down full force. We begged God for mercy to know our daughter, if even just for a moment.
During this time when I was unable to pray, people prayed for me, and as time continues to pass I know this is true. I know that on days when I struggle, someone, who I may not even know, prays for our family. Because through prayer we are brought before God, and he fills our heart with His peace. Through his perfect love, his sacrifice, his grief, tears, and his pain, we are healed completely. I am still working through so many parts of my grief, but I know that I had the strength to pray because people prayed for that strength and God gave it to me. And through this prayer God has lifted my head out of the water so that I can breathe.

Prayer is not intended to change God's purpose, nor is it to move Him to form fresh purposes. God has decreed that certain events shall come to pass through the means He has appointed for their accomplishment. -A.W. Pink

Matthew 26:39 “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Week 2 - Why did Jesus Weep?

John 11: 1-44

What I am gaining most through these verses is truly seeing Jesus as a person. I put him in a category that is impersonal, and although I know he can heal my pain, I forget that he suffered more than just physically while on this earth. He cried knowing what the pain of death what cause a person, but through death we are reminded of a great hope that we have. This is why our response to death is different for those who know Christ and those who do not. "death is the great revealer of what we should believe and of how much we value resurrected life after physical death."
Taking this statement for this day without the other readings can be taken wrong, or at least I think so because she isn't saying that there won't be pain and tears when losing a loved one. She is talking about that despite our deceitful hearts, we have hope in what lies ahead. While pregnant with Walt and dealing with losing Magdalena, some Sundays I just couldn't go to church. I couldn't sit in a pew and act like I was ok, not shed a tear, and smile at people, and most of all, I was hurt and angry with God. One Sunday I broke down when trying to get ready, and Noah reminded me that I would be able to go again, in my own time. He knew that my heart was just hurting, and that God would pierce my heart again for him. It was a slow process, and sometimes it is still hard to participate in certain events, but when I go and get past my physical ability, past the social aspect of church, God always blesses me with his sweet word.
Sometimes I feel like Martha in John 11:21 telling Jesus "Lord, if you had been here, my brother (daughter) would not have died." But it isn't true. He was there and continues to be. There are times when I am so weak and I struggle to believe that my God, who is supposed to love me, would allow something like this to happen. It is hard for me to see the big picture, and I forget that her death glorified God.

John 11: 4 “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Each day Nancy gives us a specific prayer, and today was one that I need to say much more often.
Brokenhearted Jesus, as I see the tears on your face in this story, I believe you weep with me, too. Help me to grieve with hope, believing that the eternal life you offer to those who are yours is far better than life on this earth.

Week 2 - Acquainted with Grief

I have written many times before on the struggle of dealing appropriately with those we love, whether friends or family, who have truly suffered, so I won't continue to spill, but I do think that it is should be a continual prayer for all of us to show love to those who are suffering. For those of us who are suffering, we need to offer grace to those who may not respond as we see appropriate. Both of these are a prayer for me because I need to offer more grace and I need to pray more about how I deal with those who are suffering, whether their suffering is like mine or if it is different.

"Perhaps the greatest comfort I find in seeing Jesus as a man of sorrows is the affirmation that tears do not reflect a lack of faith; indeed, they are a companion to authentic faith."
- Nancy Guthrie

I have to be honest and say that I have not really considered Jesus' sufferings on this earth. It may have been brought to may attention before, but I have not reflected on it. Chapter 53 of Isaiah makes Jesus so much more of a person to me because he understands this void in my heart where I miss my Magdalena.

Nancy asks us to read Isaiah 53 and decide which of Jesus' sufferings can we relate to. I was drawn to verse 11 first.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see light and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

I knew that this didn't quite answer her question because this verse did not make me think of myself, but it made me think of Magdalena. I am so focused on my suffering of losing her that I forget how she suffered while she was here, and how being with Jesus now is such a great relief. Through her short life full of suffering, she pointed lives to Christ. There was no medical reason why she was on this earth for as long as she was except that God had a special purpose for her here.

I couldn't read verses 4 through 6 without singing the worship song that I have heard many times before, but visually seeing the words verse 5 was a reminder that can easily be forgotten amidst my pain.

...upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.

Because of his pain and suffering we can have that peace that so many of us long for in the middle of our nightmares, tears, and daily struggles. Because of his suffering we are healed. I don't believe this means that we feel wonderful for each sunrise, but daily we feel peace in spite of our struggles and pain, and we know that God has something in store for us whether on this earth or in heaven.

It's Been Too Long

I am so sorry for not following through with my commitment to continue the book/bible study "One Year of Hope". I will continue to post from Chapter 2 tomorrow.
It has been a crazy few weeks between stress at work and the t-shirts that we have begun to sell. This week was spring break, and we have really been using this time to rest and regroup from an exhausting semester so far. I didn't realize how long it had been since I had posted until Noah told me today that I needed to show a picture of our shirts and let everyone know that they had come in. They are $18 each with $10 from each shirt going to March of Dimes. The front honors Magdalena with our team name "Magdalena's Feet". If you would like one, you can send an email . I put the shirt in the mail as soon as I get your check!

Monday, March 01, 2010

March of Dimes T-shirts 2010

March of Dimes shirts for this year have been ordered!! They will arrive by Monday, March 8th, and I hope to begin sending them out by Wednesday, March 10th. If you would like one, please, send me an email with your shirt size. Once I have confirmed your order, put a check in the mail to me. They are Southern Belle designed shirts that are $18 with $10 from each shirt going to March of Dimes. They will be lime green with a four color back to this design!
If I am mailing the shirt to you, please, include $3 for shipping.

The balloons are there because how Magdalena loved a sparkling balloon, and she followed it with her eyes. God blessed her with sight when so many Trisomy 18 babies don't have it.
The butterfly is a spiritual symbol for life after death because of its metamorphosis, or transformation, from a caterpillar that crawls on the ground to a beautiful, almost ethereal creature that flies through the air. It has also become a symbol for personal growth and spiritual rebirth.