Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Christian Community, Christian Love

What in the world does attending worship have to do with loving our neighbor and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Have you ever pondered that question? Do I go to church just for myself? I must admit that on one note I do, I know that I am a dirty rotten sinner and in worship Pastor pronounces absolution for my sins, ahhh, thank you, and gives me Christ's forgiveness in the Lord's Supper, double thank you, may I have more please.

But in reading Pastor Harrison's "Little Book on Joy" I was given much more to think about. In his chapter entitled "A Community of Joy" he recounts a story about football, a subject of which I know absolutely nothing, but the story is about how he made a mistake and his team was able to recover and win an important game. He uses this as an illustration about how we as members of a congregation are to not only forgive each others sins but to compensate for them and help the community keep going forward in Christ even when a member of the community stumbles and falls. Our job as Christians is to pick up our brother or sister and their cross and keep moving in Christ's mercy and grace, and their job is to pick up ours when we stumble and fall. We do not walk this road of faith alone, this isn't just me and Jesus, it's me and all my brothers and sisters in Christ and Jesus and all these neighbors that I have been plunked down in the middle of.

We do not attend worship just for ourselves, or just to receive the forgiveness of Christ, nor is it only the Pastor in the service whose job it is to speak Christ and His forgiveness. As I sing or speak "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy," I am not just begging Christ for His mercy for me and my loved ones but for all the members of His church who are in my hearing. When I confess my sins, I'm not just telling God or the Pastor that I need forgiveness but I am confessing to those in my hearing that I am a poor miserable sinner and need that forgiveness. When the Pastor pronounces absolution and I say "Amen" it is not just "yes, yes, do this for me" but "yes, yes, do this for the person in the pew behind me too."

In our worship we speak God's love, His forgiveness, His life and salvation to each other, and we speak it to our Pastor too. He needs to hear us say these Words of God for him as well. When we go to worship we are the receivers, as in God serves us with His mercy and grace, God Himself has no need of our praise or adoration but our neighbors, including our Pastor, needs to hear them, needs to know that we are there to pick up them and their cross too, to praise God with them, and that we stand as fellow sinners in need of forgiveness with them. As we leave worship we are to continue to serve them and serve with them all the neighbors that God has given us who do not attend worship and do not have this Gift spoken into their ears each week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Surprised by Joy

My dearest love has always been a good cook, actually he's an amazing cook and my favorite person to spend time in the kitchen with. He sees food and flavors in ways I would have never thought of and he has creativity that complements mine and yet is enough different to always keep a surprise in the dish. To walk around the corner and see him like this just brought a surprise of joy to my morning, here he is all dressed up and ready to go visit with his CPE supervisor and at the same time making sure that the chicken didn't over brine, he's my multi-tasking dream boat :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So That's What It Was

For the past few days I have wondered what John was up to, he would stand in his chair playing with Mark and be sneaking his foot up in his chair Tonight when I saw that little butt cheek scooch onto the table i knew, and there he was...

...and when he was all done got back in his chair all by himself :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dinner Theater

Up until just a few days ago John has always sat next to me at whatever table we were eating at, but now that has changed and dinner will never be the same again. John loves to sit by dad, and play with him and entertain him and me and I think the dog too. Just before these antics he was standing up and bopping Mark on the head, and then would bop himself on the head and fall back into his chair. It's always a good show ;)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two Things That Should Never Be Left Unsaid

"I love you" and "I forgive you", they should never be just implied, inferred, or said in any way that leaves the hearer wondering if that's what you meant.

The first I learned from my family and to this day it comforts me greatly that even though I didn't get to talk to my dad on the day before he died when he was calling everyone (I didn't have a phone) that the last thing I said to him the last time that I talked to him was "I love you." It's the last thing I say to Mark each time he leaves out the door or right before I fall asleep and the last thing that I say to John every time I pull out his hearing aids for bed, or to clean them. If you love someone, let them know, and always remember nothing says 'I love you' like just saying it.

The second I learned from Mark. These were not common words in my family growing up, not that we didn't forgive each other, just that it was never said in so many words. It's also not something that I commonly hear, sadly even amongst people in church. Sometimes the words are easy to say, other times they are really hard, especially if I am very hurt and even more so if I doubt the person really means to change, but I can't judge another's heart, I can only hear what they say and when someone says 'I'm sorry' the right answer is always 'I forgive you'. I try to remember that Christ told Peter that he was to forgive his brother 70 x 7 times, that's a lot, and he didn't mean to count up to there and then the next 'I'm sorry' was to be met with anything other than 'I forgive you'. I always try to remember that my sins against God are legion compared to even the worst things done to me by any person, Christ died for me and I am forgiven, therefore I can say 'I forgive you' to those who say they are sorry for what they have done.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Snow Angels

First snow, first snow angels :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Down in the Dirt

While the weather held out John got to do something brand new, he went outside by himself and played in the dirt. He took a spoon and knife, then needed a cup, trucks, and a few other things. I'm sure we'll find the knife as soon as the weather clears up, lol, or maybe his faithful companion will dig it up for him, who knows. The smiles weren't possible to catch on camera without interrupting the playtime, but believe me they were priceless.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Whole Different Angle

I'm not sure what other parents think about when they make decisions about things like spanking or tv time or homeschool or not. Mark and I thought through those kind of questions right when we got married, but 9 years later those decisions had been left in the dust of infertility, albeit I rather like the term barrenness better at this point in life. Long after we ever considered the possibility that God's 'no' to our desire for children could have been a 'not yet', John came along.

John was a total surprise, I would say shock, but really we weren't shocked. When my cousin called to ask if we would adopt her step-daughter's baby I told her 'yes' without a second thought and when I got off the phone and told Mark what she wanted he too said 'yes' without hesitation. From that instant we were John's parents, in our hearts, in our minds, it was a done deal, sealed and delivered right there in our basement, hundreds of miles away from where John was growing inside his biological mother and yet only 9 short days from when we would see him.

Those 9 days were panic time, nope, not panic about being parents, panic about how in the world to go about adopting someone. Mark and I were clueless as to what was involved, lawyers, money, papers, reviews, more lawyers, way more money. Our family came to the rescue, Mark's brother offered to pay adoption fees for us, we could have never paid what could have been the amount needed, other family members offered encouragement, support and prayers and member's of Mark's congregation were encouraging as well. We were in shock, still not about becoming parents, but wow what a mile of red tape and the short amount of time to figure it all out was shocking.

Parenting decisions were not forefront in our mind, it was a given that John would be baptized as soon as we could, would be raised in our faith and would be home schooled. We didn't have a clue about other parenting issues and had just settled on the name John Allen, John for John the Baptizer and Allen for my dad, when the call came that John Allen had indeed already been born, what, wait just a minute that was supposed to be almost two months from now, that was a shock!

I'm sure all parents fall in love with their child the moment they see them, we were the same, and when the news was so dire that John wouldn't survive long at all we made the only parenting decision we knew how to make an absolute determination that John would be loved and know that he was loved each day of his life and that each of those days would be the very best that we could make it, no matter how few of them that there were. John was baptized and we carried on with our determination and the days passed into months and the months became years and still we functioned with our primary parenting decision being that John would know he was loved and each day would be the best possible.

After John's transplant we started thinking about we needed to raise John so that as a teenager and adult that he would want to continue taking his medications, most people who reject their organs years out from the transplant do so because they stop taking their meds. That little change took months on end to sink in and then this Christmas when we were visiting Mark's brother in Arkansas I said something that stuck in my mouth, stuck in my brain and continues to stick there. "We never thought about raising an adult, we were always just enjoying the days we were given."

Raising an adult, hmmmmm, I will admit that I am completely clueless as to how to do that, Mark doesn't seem to have too many ideas on the subject either. The more I think about it the more I wonder if we need to change anything. All along we have felt that John would be happiest being as independent and free as possible and so have raised a little free spirit that is not afraid of most new challenges and comes at everything knowing that he has two parents who love him unconditionally, even if he couldn't define the word 'unconditionally' for you. He loves life, he loves to learn new things, he loves to figure stuff out and he is generally joyful. He knows Jesus forgives his sins, he knows that he needs to forgive others and he loves and cares for us and others freely. I have never known a person, of any age, who exudes life and joy like John does, we stand in awe of him and his affect on others and not just because he is ours but because he is John.

The more I think about parenting from the perspective of a child who would survive into adulthood the more I wonder if we really need to change a thing. There are no guarantees, length of days is not something which God informs us of, or of which we would truly want the knowledge if He offered it. When I look at life from the perspective of John growing to be an adult somehow I find myself in exactly the same spot adamantly determined that he will know he is loved each and every day, and making sure that each day is the best it can be, no matter how many days there are. Funny how life from a different angle can remain the same on this note, while in other ways it has surely changed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

He Remembers the Barren

He Remembers the Barren, a book written to the heart of women dealing with fertility issues. Actually it goes farther than that, I have just finished it and would recommend it to anyone who has or has known someone who has dealt with any fertility issues whatsoever, miscarriage or just discontentment in a situation that is out of their control. Rarely have I read a book that I would recommend without some reservations, especially on this topic, but here is Christ's peace and grace spoken clearly and gently to souls in pain. I thought that I had pretty much exorcised my demons over infertility but this book has helped me find a peace that I didn't even realize I needed or could have. Thank you Katie Schuermann and Melissa DeGroot, I am now putting this book in my husband's hands and next will be ordering copies for others whom I know and love and 1 to stick in my purse for the day that I run into someone else who needs it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ramp to Happiness

I didn't realize until it was all said and done that we have been in the process of getting this ramp built for nearly 2 years and that prior to it's completion John has never had the freedom to just go outside and just play. As you can tell in the picture it is only near completion but some little boy couldn't wait even one more minute to try it out :) Ok, I still keep a pretty close eye on him, but since Mellon has gotten really good at being tied to his chair and hanging out with him, I don't feel like I have to stand in the window the entire time he is outside. It's amazing how busy life is. I thought that once we weren't going to hospitals all the time that it would slow down to a crawl and we would have all the time in the world to do everything, funny, we have all the time in the world and are so busy doing everything that the time just flies by. Our days are filled with reading and some drawing and writing, lots of playing outside, playing with games and just playing, it's amazing, it's nothing we could have ever imagined. It has changed how often I get online for anything though, often the computer is busy being our radio and we are off playing, blogs, Facebook and email get checked once or maybe even twice in a day but somedays we don't get to them at all. Prior to this silence on our end meant that things were so scary we didn't know how to talk about them, lol, now it means that we are so busy we could talk all day about the joy and life going on but are just too busy keeping up with it :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Joy. Unfettered joy. Unstoppable joy. Joy that no words can sum up. That's what this past month has been for John. Silly string. Friends. More silly string. More friends. Presents. Christmas lights. More friends. Music. More presents. Family. Smiles. Love. Joy. Not a thousand words for sure, and no where close to just how wonderful this holiday season has been for John and for us. The smile says it all!