Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What do we do when all we have left is rubble?

Rubble:  waste or rough fragments...especially after a demolition.

Our little community has been undone and stripped of so many things held dear. The circumstances of demolition have varied, but the common landscape of rubble is sadly all I see.

On Sunday, lives were lost to a tornado that is now considered an F4.  Only 28 tornadoes in Arkansas have ever been an F4.  Ten miles to the east and ten miles to the south is utter destruction.  I lie in my bed feeling guilty that I even have a bed.  It could have so easily taken out my house or my boys.  It took out people's homes that we know by name.  People that were in our wedding.  People in Sam's class.  People in my in-laws' Sunday School class.  It is eerie when Samaritan's Purse is in your backyard, helping out the friends you know by name. 

On Monday, a young girl named Reagan passed away.  Her heart failed her.  She had just celebrated her 15th birthday.

On Tuesday, I sat in the hospital with a precious friend as she waited to go back to see the doctor who would cut out the dream she had hoped to hold in a few more months.

Everywhere I look, I see demolition and fragmented hearts. 

What do we do when all we have left is rubble?

First, we need to be real before our Savior.  He would rather us beat on His chest in anger than offer false platitudes that don't get to the real issues of hurt.  He is God and He can handle it.  Jesus knows what it is like to be us and He can meet us exactly in that place of disappointment and grief. The Psalms are full of lamenting and confusion.  God wants us to come before Him boldly in these times.

We stay in this place as long as necessary, and then we pray that God would move us to a second phase:  praying for the grace to praise Him despite the deep ache.  If faith is a gift, then we fall on our knees and beg for fresh faith, knowing trust in the Almighty will be the only thing that brings light into our days. God knows that when we praise Him in the suffering, He truly has our allegiance and worship.

What do we do if those around us are sorting through the rubble but we haven't been affected firsthand?

We become grief-walkers.  We choose to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  We don't offer sing-song bible verses offered flippantly.  We don't say with a smile on our face, "Jesus is close to the brokenhearted" while skipping on by.  Instead, we get close to the brokenhearted.  We choose to enter into the story instead of running away from it.  We rebuke the enemy's lie that says we have nothing to offer or say.  We accept the truth that says mere presence means more than anything.

We offer money and services and meals and clothes that just might fit.  We give our best, not just the remains.  We simply do what we would love for others to do for us if we were in that situation.  Not more.  Not less.

We get on our knees and pray.  Weep.  We acknowledge His great love for all of us.  We remember that our King is one who weeps with us.  We beg for mercy because the days are hard and God knows it is hard to be us. We choose to believe that prayer changes things...including our hard hearts that are so prone to unbelief. We pray for His Kingdom to come and we celebrate the fact that one day, all things will be set right.

We relinquish our right to know why God allows certain things to happen.  We surrender our lust for knowledge because we know that lust is partly why Eve took that bite...she wanted to be like God.  She so desperately wanted to know.... Instead, we quote the Psalm that says, "My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me."  We choose to quiet our souls when the Enemy says we have a right to know.  We acknowledge that God is sovereign and good and is up to something beautiful even if we can't see it. Even when the rubble shouts otherwise.

We read stories where His children are remaining faithful despite the unthinkable.  With tears streaming down our faces, we praise Him for the gift of faith.

Lastly, we don't forget.  In three months, when the shock wears off, our friends will continue to need us to enter into the hurt.  We don't say we are weary or that we already threw some money at the need.  We allow the victims to be exactly where they are emotionally for as long as they need to be there.  As grief-walkers, we refuse to rush them in the journey.  We plant seeds of joy along the way but we patiently wait for God to bring the harvest of healing and restoration.

I've had the word unity on my heart today.  Lord, unify our hearts in the midst of the rubble.  "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."  {Jesus speaking in John 17:23}

Asher's 1st Birthday

"Chomp! Chomp! 
There's a Party in the Swamp!"
We celebrated Asher's first birthday with an alligator themed party.  It was so much fun coming up with all the snacks and decorations.  We love this little fella and are so blessed by him. Happy birthday Asher Tate!


Amazing the difference a year makes!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

11 months and 24 days

Only a few more days and this squishy little bundle of joy will be one whole year old.  I can't even stand it.  I celebrate the phase he is about to enter, but boy, oh boy these past 12 months have just flown by.  I am one of those crazy people that love-love-love the newborn phase, so I am a bit in mourning.  I shake out of it when he walks towards me and falls into my arms giving me a big squeeze.  Isn't it a joy when they start to hug back?  And blow kisses?  And say your name? Having a one year old definitely will have its joys!

{To remember this is "a day in the life."}

Wakes up at 7:30, happy as can be, milk
Eats rice cereal or oatmeal with a fruit like a whole banana
Pack n play time
Read books with momma {loves board books!}
Naps for an hour or two
Lunch: whole milk or formula, veggie, meat, fruit, bagel...whatever else he can cram in his mouth
Plays or we go on a walk or run errands
Naps for a couple of hours
Goes for a ride to get boys from school
Plays in room either with a brother or by himself
Dinner: repeat of lunch
Plays with brothers or we head out the door for ballgames where he loves to people watch
Bedtime:  7 p.m. if the schedule allows it...but no later than 8 p.m.

Asher loves to play patty cake, peek a boo and sing!  He loves the "itsy bitsy spider!"  He either dances or conducts with his arm every time he hears music.  He can walk and it is quickly becoming his favorite way to get around.  He has discovered how to open cabinet doors (sigh.)  His favorite thing to play with is Sam's big bag of fave toys.  He can pucker up and "kiss," spit, and kind of wink...wrinkles up one side of his face.  Every time I read "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," he shakes his finger at the part where "the doctor said, no more monkeys jumping on the bed."  Guess he saw his momma doing that, ha!  He loves bath time and throws in every single bath toy while the water is running.

He talks...not everything is super clear, but I can decipher these words:
what's that?

I have yet to get his one year pics taken, but here are a few of him around the house!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring Session!

You can imagine my delight when I woke up realizing we had ZERO sports to attend for the day!  You know I made each boy put on some colorful garb, slick back their hair, and march themselves to a little photo session!  The goal was to get Asher's one year photos done as well, but you can see in those last two photos that he was putting on a little pity party and wanted nothing to do with it! 

Happy Easter everyone.  This year, I've been thinking more and more about what it might be like when Jesus returns to the earth and rules as the visible KING!  Glory!  I have no idea what that is really going to be like, but it is nice to know I am on the winning side.  Praise Him for His blood that covers me.   I was singing this earlier to Asher...

Oh how He loves you and me
Oh how He loves you and me
He gave His life; what more could He give?
Oh how He loves you
Oh how He loves me
Oh how He loves you and me

{Old school is the best school!!!}

Here we are.  These boys clean up pretty nice!