Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Understanding God

A few days ago a little boy who was just shy of turning 1 passed away from AT/RT cancer. His name was Declan Carmical and his battle was not only awe-inspiring but it was also a huge testament to the strength and abilities within every single person on this earth, young and old. I had the privilege of getting to know the story of this sweet baby through his family members who openly shared on Facebook the heartbreaking events that led to his passing. Every day there was something new to share- ups and downs, joy and sorrow. And the entire human experience not only touched my heart but changed my life. My heart goes out to Declan's parents Stan and Sherri, his twin brother Cole and 2 older brothers, Will and Brady, as well as the rest of his family. I can't imagine the hurt of such a loss and I am praying for their peace and strength.

Yesterday, I received a message from Declan's great aunt, Rosemary- a lovely woman who has been around my family since I was a little girl. Her existence in my life has been mostly through Facebook in the recent years but I can't think of my childhood, especially my Catholic upbringing, without her face gracing the images in my mind. I was a little surprised by the nature of her message to me, as it was a most painful cry for answers- answers I always expected someone like her to have. Now I was the one being solicited for these answers and I wasn't sure I had them. It humbled me to realize that no matter how old we are or how much experience we have, we are all children of God- children who sometimes falter in our faith, who sometimes weaken in our abilities to remain standing through life's most difficult trials.

I started typing a response through my tears, pleading to God to give me the right words, hoping that even one could touch her heart and pull her back to His gentle embrace. In my thoughts, I expressed the reality of human nature as I experienced it and as I believed it to be. I knew questioning such a tragic event is part of our humanity and I knew that our faith is tested in some of the most painful ways. But I also knew that we are not to understand these circumstances and events; we are only to trust that they are part of our journey for a reason, as a means to complete the bigger picture that He is creating for His kingdom. But sometimes this notion does not help. Sometimes it is just incapable of being the healing balm to our wounds that are often left open and raw for years.

In tragic times like this one, we ask God why these things happen; why an innocent child had to suffer so much only to lose his life and leave behind so many who loved him. We wonder, as this dear friend did, why God couldn't have allowed our loved one to heroically win the battle and go on to be a servant of the Lord, bringing others to the foot of His cross. But everything happens for the ultimate result of good, even if the means to get there aren't so good. Declan's life was one of greatness. Even as a helpless baby, he was a servant of God in the most amazing way and he may have very well brought others to the foot of the Lord's cross. I know his life deepened my faith, as I myself went through the process of questioning God's reasons and came out on the other side with a deeper understanding of how His love pours out onto His children through the lost lives of precious babies such as Declan.

Even when we feel weakened in our faith, it often steps in anyway, sometimes in unexpected ways, as our doubt takes a backseat in order for us to grieve and pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts and lives. Heaven is our home, and this earthly life is just a place to begin our process of being worthy of such a home. This world doesn't mean much compared to eternity; here is where all the pain and sadness live. Through the tragedy of his short existence, Declan lived as a reminder that our time here is short, our life is very fragile, and that all of us belong to God and are alive only for His purpose. In all honesty, I envy Declan, and every other soul I know who has gone before him to be with God. They are not experiencing any hurt, any anger, any pain. They are living their lives where they belong, rejoicing in God's holiness and soaking in more love from Him than we could possibly imagine here on earth. How awesome is that?! How great it must be up there, and how blessed we are to have those souls in heaven praying for us, on our side to help prepare us for the time when He will call us home as well.

No, sweet Rosemary, Declan's life was not in vain. In honor of Declan and all the babies I know of who have gone home to Jesus, I remember to look at my own children and thank God for the privilege of being their mother; and I am convicted to be a better parent, to fix my eyes on His purposes for my life and the lives of my children, blessed and humbled by how short our time in this world really is. We may not understand the way God works, why exactly He would create someone like Declan and then take him home so soon. But we have to trust that it is part of His perfect will and that Declan's short life had a purpose for the greater good. Rest in peace, Declan and please pray for us!

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Monday, August 16, 2010

Praying for the Crazies

It must be me. I mean, it has to be. I either have a sign on my back, my forehead, somewhere where I can't see it...or there is this air about me, a scent (eau de crazy?), or maybe a mannerism. But whatever it is, I think it's safe to say that I am a magnet for crazy people. And people with drama...which, incidentally, can go hand-in-hand but does not always.

The not-quite-so-funny thing is, I have a soft spot for these people. And I'm not sure if it's a result of their draw to me or if it comes the chicken...or is it the egg? Whatever. All I know is that I am not only a magnet for these people who don't really function completely on a normal level but I am often hurt by them as well. I'm kind of sick of it, actually.

But then I am reminded of something I have had a slight inkling of my entire life. A really wonderful lady in my life said just the other day that God probably sends these types of people to me (and some of my family members, as the attracting of weirdos seems to run in my family) to get the gentle acceptance they need. Wow. Really? Okay, I digress. I am being used. Apparently. Lets just hope it is only by God. I don't like being a puppet on a string unless I know Whose hands are holding the other end.

Not so long ago, I was a crazy person...with lots of drama. I didn't have someone in my life that wanted to give me gentle acceptance and point me in the right direction to a sane and normal life centered in God and His plans for me. I mean, I had my family but there was only so much they could do. There was no random person I seemed drawn to, even if I wasn't sure for what purpose. There was only me, a crazy person flying around the atmosphere buzzing in and out of other's lives, smacking into glass walls sometimes, searching for even just a sweet morsel of an answer to my life's questions....a meaning to my existence, a purpose for why I'm here. And there were people I used to get what I wanted. And there were people I'm sure I hurt.

So here I am, years later, on the flip side. There have been people who have used me, some even just recently. There have been people who have hurt me, some who continue to do so. And the only thing I can think to do is pray. I pray for them because they obviously need it. I know a lot about where they are. And I pray for myself because I need it. I need the strength and wisdom to deal with these people with grace and love. I need the right words breathed into my ears by the only One who knows what they are, as well as the correct force and direction to help them get from my ears to my mouth unadulterated. If I am being used, I want to be used correctly. Otherwise, I might go crazy..... again.