Monday, June 13, 2016

Heavenly Birthday Number Three

My Dear Christina,
 I miss you.  You went to be with Jesus on this day three years ago--that is a little shocking.  Time has passed quickly.  We have a little reminder of the years flying by.  His name is Isaiah.  He reminds us everyday of your joy, your humor, your zest for life.  

Today, I am not with the rest of the family.  I am in Oceanside, California ready to start across the United States following your old friend Rob DeCou while he races to raise money for brain cancer research.  RAAM--the Race Across America.  You would love this adventure.  You would love meeting these people who are helping Rob.  Your name and story are being talked about with hope and joy and purpose. 

Rob's Team
 Who knows, perhaps a cure for brain cancer will be closer because Rob is riding and this team is talking and raising money.  That is all in God's hands.  I just know I love telling your story.  It is a story of the power of God.  It is a story of peace in impossible circumstances.  It is a story of joy moving in and displacing despair.

Before I left for this adventure, we had a little gathering of family in Port Angeles to celebrate you.  
We told stories, took flowers to the cemetery, and Brody drew you some pictures to leave at your headstone.  Our good friend, Susan Kroh, also brought over a color pencil drawing honoring your life.  It was an image she dreamed one night--even the title (Soli Deo Gloria) and she eventually drew what she dreamed.  It is a pink peony.  The dark section represents brain cancer.  The bright yellow represents God's presence and power, the lighter parts of the flower are joy and peace.  The petals ascending are your life heading to Jesus.  To God Alone Be the Glory.  It is beautiful--as you are.

Much love,

To all you readers--if you want to follow the Race Across America and read my 3000 Miles to a Cure Blog, you will find it here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

and Wise Words from Mommy Susie

Wedding Day--October, 2014
A brave young woman with two sons of her own to raise, entered into our lives, married Doug and took on the role of mom to Isaiah.  A little while later they added a beautiful little girl, Charlotte, to the mix.
I asked Susan if she would like to write about what this journey has been like for her and she took on the task (amidst active baby, Little League games, and incessant questions from a 3 year old). What follows is Susan's gift to us.

As I look at Charlotte, I can’t help but think that she is the same age Isaiah was when Christina went to be with Jesus ….. almost three years ago.  As a mom, I cannot grasp the magnitude of Christina’s (mama’s) heart. The depth of surrender.  The amount of trust.  The battle in letting go.  Her reality of leaving her sweet baby boy without the comfort of knowing how things turn out.  

In only about 15 months of motherhood (beginning with babe in womb), Christina left an astonishing example of what is looks like to be an amazing mom.  She trusted Jesus whole heartedly.  Joyfully.  She not only trusted Him for herself, but also for her child.  She was selfless.  She chose fearlessness.  She prayed fervently for Isaiah.  She surrendered him.  And then again, and again, and perhaps constantly.  

Charlotte and Isaiah
I could not have written this story in my wildest dreams.  Marrying Doug, raising Isaiah, living in this home, blending our families, having another baby…  Even as I write it, it blows my mind! (And makes me sweat a little!) Although this has come with tremendous blessings, it has brought many fears and doubts. And questions.  Lots of questions. How do I do all of this?  Am i the right one for the job?  How do I love and care for Doug’s heart in all of this?  Is this really Gods will for all of us? What is my role with not only Isaiah, but the rest of the family? What is the expectation of me? How do my big boys fit in to all of this?  Is it okay to make myself at home here - change the decor, etc.? Will others approve of the way I raise Isaiah? Okay…you get the picture.  Its a lot to navigate.  And if I’m being honest, and vulnerable… I let some of these questions paralyze me with fear. 

If you have been to our home and asked for our wifi password, we will give you 2Timothy1:7.  This reads, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”  I tell you this, because Doug and Christina lived and breathed and filled this home with God’s word that continually tells us not to fear. This is only one small example.  I remember coming to visit when Christina was on hospice.  This was not a house filled with  fear.  This was a house filled with life.  With joy.  With worship.  And it was filled with Isaiah … which brought so much joy and laughter and fun.

That little guy continues to bring it!  Can I just tell you ….. I see Christina in his smile.  The twinkle in his eye.  In the way he runs.  The way he does this happy dance when he gets something right.    And can I just say ….. I am so incredibly thankful that Doug and Christina fearlessly chose Isaiah.  I am so thankful that God blessed all of us with this gift.  I am thankful that I knew and loved Christina, and can share that with Isaiah. And I am thankful and blessed to be a part in raising up this little guy.  

Far beyond what I could have asked or imagined!!
For the last two years, God has asked me to surrender my fears to him.  He continues to show me what it looks like to walk in freedom.  He continues to show me - much through Christina’s story - that He is the author of my life.  He is sovereign.  That means … He has the whole picture.  And although I am not facing a brain tumor, I don’t have the control or knowledge of when my last breath will be. I don’t have the comfort of knowing how it all ends up for my children.   And the only true peace, is the peace that Jesus brings.  If I am surrendering as Christina did - all of my questions and fears and doubts - that is when the unexplainable joy comes.  The joy that only Jesus can bring in the midst of hardship.  And that is the blessing.  And when I am pressing into Jesus, the fears of this world fade away.  When I actively trust in His word, I can exhale slowly.  I am so thankful I don’t have to figure all of this out.  I don’t have to be anyone or anything other than what God has called me to be. I am responsible for today.  This moment.   Christina did not passively wait for all of this to come to her.  She fought for it. Continually.  Lord, may this be true in my life as well.  
Every day, may I surrender my life to you.  May I surrender my children.  Will you fill me with a spirit of power and love and self-control.  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18.  Thank you Lord, that you give us these gifts.  They were not available just to Christina, but to all of us.  

And if you’re wondering ….  those questions and doubts I shared …… God has given and blessed abundantly.  Beyond my wildest imagination. 

My heart in sharing all of this, is to encourage you (and myself) that joy and peace in this broken world is attainable through our Lord, Jesus Christ.  That He is our bridge to peace and joy.  Oh, how I desperately want to live this way!  And thank you Jesus, for  Christina’s example in living this way.  Full abandon.  Nothing wasted.  All for His glory.