Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy


It was a Happy Birthday to me! 
Ayala Bar from my sweet mom/ Neighborhood party
Pedicure morning with Sara / Dinner with my sweeties



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

H-o-t



We are well within the triple digits. It's pretty hot & spicy around here! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Clothing the flowers

A few months ago a friend and I stumbled upon a small "Old Age" Home. (They label things so delicately in Asia;) We became fast friends with these tender little ladies, their faces full of stories. 


We said that favorite old verse together today: If the Father cares for the flowers of the field, won't he much more care for you. 

We made tissue paper flowers together and I told them in very broken dialect that they are more beautiful than flowers. And they smiled. 


It was a good day today. A beautiful day. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

the hope of mourning

I've been sad this week. I haven't really known how to move forward on this public forum, so I just haven't written.  Mourning a loss is always hard.  Mourning from a distance is difficult in different ways.

The loss of Jessica in that community we grew up in is crossing into another mourning for me as well.  Had that sweet heartbeat continued, I would be just days away from delivering our third child.  These seasons of mourning are merging for me and I am discovering that a part of mourning is grieving the loss of future moments.

It's not just about the loss of a friend or a baby, it's also about the loss the way your world would have been in community with that friend or baby.  I believe it was C.S. Lewis who wrote in his notes on Friendship in The Four Loves about the way that others add dimension to our circles. Friends bring out in one other unique dynamics peculiar to that interaction or group.



I am not just mourning the loss of Jessica this week. I am mourning the loss of the way that Lindsey banters with Jessica.  The way that Jessica makes Christy laugh.  I mourn the irreplaceable impact that person had upon an entire world, the ripples of her personality and life.

I am not just mourning the loss of a baby.  I am mourning the loss of what our family would be amid another cherished little one. The reverberations of a life coming into our world with all the change and wonder and joy that he would have brought. It is the mourning of a hope lost, a life imagined that is irreparably altered.

Mourning is a part of life.  It is a part of loving people.  It is a part of rightly hoping for passages and seasons that are the natural course God ordained. It is also a part of recognizing our fragility, our humanness.  We are very limited in our power. We break.  Things are broken.

And God comes into the midst of it.

He sent His Son into a world that would mock and crucify Him.  He entered into brokenness and was Himself broken.  And His brokenness wrought hope.  A hope, so eternal and sure that it is more fixed than the rising of the sun, more certain than the tide of the mighty waters.

I will celebrate that hope this weekend. And I will cling to the promise that for all eternity those who trust in Him will celebrate that hope in a place where every tear has been wiped away.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Jessica

Jessica Swisher Hambrick stepped into glory this weekend.

The phone lines were crossed as I waited.  I waited for the final word that her suffering was finished, that the cancer ravaging her body had given her over to death.  That Christ's full and finished work had swallowed that painful death into eternal and victorious life.  




I wished many times I was on the other side of oceans.  There is a small group of girls that I spent much of my youth alongside. We have been friends for over 20 years now. We had slumber parties in Jessica's room and snuck out to roll houses.  We wore tacky patriotic costumes together and sang on Bellevue's Choir Tour.  We listened to Christy's mom give us advice on how to woo boys with our long hair.  We gave our Sunday School teachers so much grief that I think they eventually gave up on preparing real lessons.  We had a thousand jokes together over cafeteria food. We cried together and laughed together and we had plenty of fights together too.  We grew up together.

I can look back and define a multitude of times when I was anything but a good friend.  I was arrogant.  I was harsh and self righteous.  I had a strong tendency to laugh more at people than with them.  If you knew me through junior high and even beyond, you may remember that those weren't exactly my best years. There are a thousand moments I would do differently. But in spite of me, there was friendship offered time and time again.

Somewhere in the middle years, we began to lose touch.  We went our separate ways and saw each other randomly every now and then. In some ways, we outgrew one another.  Or at least we thought we did.  I don't think there was any defining moment, it just happened.  Junior high friendships are prone to that.  I wish very much now that I could have those years back to throw showers and go to weddings. To make an effort to see one another and reminisce.  To grow up more together.

When Jessica was first diagnosed with cancer several years ago, she reached out all over again.  We needed one another again.  We had not outgrown one another as much as we thought.  We started to get together again when we could.  And somehow, when I stepped into the room with those girls, I became someone different.  Someone infused with the old self, yet fresh from growth bound with the deep security of friends who have walked a long road together and not turned away.  We were reminded that long friendships are rare and precious.  The value is distinct and rich. 


I began to watch as she let the reality of death spur her on in life.  I have never seen anyone live so fully in the face of death. She fought cancer with incomparable passion, all the while testifying very boldly that Christ's work on the cross had given her confidence and peace.  She was not afraid to die.  And she was not afraid to live.  At a time when she could very rightly have retreated, she pushed forward and gave. She gave the gift of a joyful friend to other sufferers, an inspirational trainer to those she worked with, a blessed wife to her husband, James, and a treasured sister and daughter to her family.  

She was a friend who will always be beloved. I am mourning our loss this week.  And rejoicing in her gain.  

In ways that I cannot fully express, I wanted to be beside those girls this weekend, the ones with whom I have walked so many years.  I felt misplaced on this side, rather than that.  Part of her legacy to us through her suffering these past few years has been in the cherishing of old friendships made new.  She renewed the bond and reminded us how precious it was.  I wish I were there to celebrate her home going alongside the people who loved her.  Her victory, even through death, is worth that celebration. 




When I finally do fly over those oceans, I will walk to the graveside of a dear old friend.  I want to walk there alongside the girls of that circle. The friendships that have been renewed by suffering. And if God gives us moments with one another into old age, we will sit together and laugh again.  Jessica's laughter will echo with us through all the years.  



He will swallow up death forever, 

And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Of Mice & Men

I read Of Mice and Men last night.  I was in a classic mood.  And the back of the book said it was "a powerfully moving story of friendship."

While I want to acknowledge that it is indeed great literature, I also have to say that my very un-intellectual & emotional response to the book was outrage.

I sat down to read "a powerfully moving story of friendship," and do you know what happens? Have you ever read Of Mice and Men?

On the last page of the book, he shoots his friend in the head.  Shoots him.

Slice it anyway you want, blur the lines, feel the emotion of what he was saving him from, the dignity of letting him go in peace, etc.  He still shoots his friend in the head.

So while I am glad to check it off my list of classics, I don't really want to analyze all the characters and dig deep into the plot.  I doubt it'll remain on my shelf as a re-read.  And I went to bed feeling angry that more literary masterpieces just can't contain a few happy endings.

I suppose at this point, those of you who were coming here  for great literary discussion (haha), should go elsewhere.

As for Of Mice & Murder, farewell. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Listen Up

I have been listening to the recordings of Nancy Guthrie at a Women's Conference in Cincinnati.  My sweet friend, Erin, recommended them to me.  I cannot commend them to you highly enough.  Though Guthrie's story of the loss of two babies to a genetic disorder is compelling in itself, her ability to apply the Word to real life is powerfully effective. There are some deep (and difficult) truths in these talks.  Worth the time to listen.

Here are the links to Faith Bible Church in Cincinnati:

Hearing Jesus Speak to Pain

Hearing Jesus Speak to Promises

Hearing Jesus Speak To Offenses

I hope you'll put them on your iPod soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

First Trip to the Dentist




Yes. There was a cavity. Sigh. I acknowledge the phrase "bad mom" went rushing through my brain. Jude was a champ though and didn't shed a tear! We will be on a more stringent teeth brushing regime hence forth. 

Check "first visit to the dentist" off Jude's list of childhood passage;)